As with Pride events last month, this bears repeating: the anti-gay and active normalization of hate by politicians in certain parts of the country and on social media, has made everything reflecting LGBTQ culture in 2023 more significant and vital. Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival, now in its 41st year, begins this week and it is no exception. There is strength in numbers and Outfest’s packed 11 days of programming serves as an important counter to the bigotry that some seek to sow in our country.
In June, important events like this can get lost in the rainbow-hued happenings, so it’s nice that this event happens later. Queer creators, story-tellers and allies in entertainment are showcased in 23 venues across Los Angeles, and it’s all headquartered in the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood. (At press time, SAG-AFTRA announced its strike alongside the WGA, so check the event’s social media for updates as to how it might affect the schedule).
As of now, Outfest Los Angeles’ opening night gala features Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, directed by Aitch Alberto at the Orpheum Theatre. The closing night gala takes place at The Montalbán Theatre with a screening of Chasing Chasing Amy (about the impact Kevin Smith’s film had on queer culture and the filmmaker), directed by Sav Rodgers.
In between, highlights should include The People’s Joker, a controversial DC-inspired coming out tale from writer/director Vera Drew (pictured); Truth Be Told, a doc about the black church and the queer community featuring interviews with Billy Porter, Meagan Good, Cedric The Entertainer, David Mann, and Tamela Mann; Acsexybility, a Brazilian doc by Daniel Gonçalves (Gonçalves will be in the house) and Fabian Stumm’s Bones and Names (Stumm will be attending).
Titles such as Egghead & Twinkie, My Animal, Passages, Kokomo City, Fancy Dance, Down Low, F.L.Y., Le Favolose (The Fabulous Ones) also look intriguing as do the restoration of the 1996’s Chocolate Babies directed by Stephen Winter (who’ll be in attendance) and Commitment to Life, directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, about AIDS Project Los Angeles. A Chicago sing-along gathering should also bring out celebratory crowds.
A Trans, Nonbinary, and Intersex Summit on Saturday, July 22nd, will feature discussion, performances and a spotlight on drag with personalities from Them Fatale Drag Kings and The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, plus one-minute films from TNBI filmmakers. There will be lots of drag at Outfest this year in fact, which is an intentional element in light of recent anti-drag legislation.
As always, an awards presentation honoring the queer community in entertainment and allies is a hot ticket. This year, recent WeHo Pride grand marshall Melissa McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone will be honored. The couple are also executive producers on Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story, a short doc about a local candle shop owner who helps unhoused and former addicts in West Hollywood, screening at the festival.
Also check out Outfest’s selection of virtual watch-at-home titles here.
The 41st Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Festival runs July 13 – 23 at various locations. More info at outfestla.org.
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