TV & Film | Feature Spotlight
The 2023 Outfest LA LGBTQ+ Film Festival begins this week starting July 13, and its lineup with over 170 titles hailing from more than 25 countries, promises to be a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience. The film festival is presented by Warner Bros., Discovery, and Genesis Motor America and will last from the 13th of July through July 23rd in venues across Los Angeles. Virtual screenings for a number of its films beginning will begin July 17th.
Established in 1982, Outfest has been dedicated to delivering queer arts, media, and entertainment to the community and country at large. It is an organization that has offered programs over the years that have been geared toward increasing diversity, visibility, and access to narrators and viewers alike.
This year’s lineup sees an intersectionality of women’s and men’s interest films, Pacific Islander as well as LatinX and Black storytelling. In addition to Trans, Nonbinary, and Intersex narratives, let’s not forget the inclusion of Disability Pride Month which began this July. There is without a doubt something to pique the interest of members of the entire queer community and allies equally.
Here’s a list of Gaye Magazine’s Top 10 picks (in no particular order) that fall within the Black Storytelling Category or have persons of color starring in their narratives. Up first is one of this year’s heavy hitters.
1) Truth Be Told
You’ve seen Mike Tyson versus Holyfield, but have you ever seen the LGBTQ+ Community versus the Black church?
Emmy-winning director Nneka Onuorah is making her appearance at Outfest LA 2023 with her documentary “Truth Be Told”, a commentary and deep dive into the dichotomy of the Black church and the queer community.
While the Black church has been a long-standing cornerstone of culture and a pillar of support for its members, it has habitually fallen short in supporting its LGBTQ+ family. This documentary includes interviews with the likes of Billy Porter, Cedric the Entertainer, as well as David and Tamala Mann.
2) All the Colours of The World Are Between Black and White
Additionally, we have “All the Colours of The World Are Between Black and White” brought to us by director Babatunde Apalowo. This film tells a tale of two men drawn together in Lagos during a photography competition and instantly make a connection. They spend increasing periods of time together in the picturesque country. However, while forming a deep connection in an environment that condemns homosexuality, the pair begins to feel some of the societal taboos.
3) The Audition
Coming up next, we have “The Audition” from director Mx. Chels Morgan. The film is intent on displaying the realities that occur backstage amongst erotic dancers by dispelling some of the misconceptions that have been perpetuated by the media.
Morgan states in their director’s statement that “It drops you into a situation that happens every day, when a young, uneducated individual enters a club with a mind filled with stereotypes fed to them by the media and quickly gets a taste of the reality of why people choose s//x work."
In the film, a young, eager protagonist meets three veterans in the dressing room as she prepares to audition for a local topless club. After making some rash assumptions about the type of girls she’d see backstage, our protagonist quickly learns that strippers are much more than their stereotype and that people come to this club for very different reasons.
4) House of Tulip
Inspired by two trans activists from Louisiana, “House of Tulip” is an intimate look into the lives of Mariah Moore and Milan Sherry, who are the two responsible for founding the organization from which the documentary earns its title.
House of Tulip is the first housing refuge program in Louisiana created specifically for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming individuals. Director Cydney Tucker takes audiences into the day-to-day activities of the two activists that are dedicated to creating safe homes for their community.
5) Her Curve
Adding to the category of women’s interests is “Her Curve”. Brought to us by directors Stacy Jill Calvert and Jaclyn Chessen, this short explores the dynamic between an artist and her human subject. In addition to learning and developing her skills artistically, the protagonist finds herself developing other feelings in her figure drawing class. View the trailer here.
6) Hex the Patriarchy
“Hex The Patriarchy” is a quirky short film that pays homage to the adolescent navigation of sexuality. Fed up with being bullied, two queer best friends employ a bit of magic to wield against their tormenters. Director Anne Brashier and writer Heather Muriel Nguyen describes the short film as “a heartfelt celebration of loving who you are and inviting everyone around you to embrace themselves”.
Mermaid and Milan, two sisters whose bond was forged in the glamorous halls of the Ballroom community, take the screen by storm in “MnM”. Brought to us by director Twiggy Pucci Garcon, this short film is a vibrant and exuberant portrait of how these two celebrate themselves, their joy, their siblinghood, and all the fabulousness of being nonbinary.
Huriyyah Muhammad brings audiences a delightful surprise in her short film “Wonders”. Two mothers who work extremely hard in order to create a fulfilling life for themselves and their toddler, find themselves in a bind with seemingly nowhere to turn. That is until their sweet toddler leaves them a gift that may alter the trajectory of their lives.
9) The Funnel
“The Funnel” brings together past and present in an intimate telling of how ongoing housing struggles transcend time and space and act as a tether between ancestors and descendants. Inspired by Saidiya Hartman’s book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, director Charlene Carruthers encourages the characters in this richly nuanced short film, to rebel against the idea that marginalized groups must conform to dominant societal norms and values in order to gain acceptance and respect.
10) Dilating for Maximum Results
Ever wanted to make a good impression when meeting someone in real life for the first time? “Dilating for Maximum Results” is an irreverent comedy that is bound to give audiences a good laugh. The short film depicts a black trans woman as she attempts to dilate after not doing so in 4 years to facilitate a ‘hook up’ in person with her online boyfriend.
Regardless of what may tickle your fancy, the 2023 Outfest LA LGBTQ+ Film Festival has something to woo anyone. All the above films will be available for viewing virtually beginning July 17th, 2023. So girls, Gayes and theys, go check out this marvelous lineup! Visit Outfest.org to register to watch.