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The art of storytelling has always been an empowering way of bringing all types of people together. For marginalized groups and minorities especially, seeing their reality mirrored on the big screen gives a simple kind of joy that says, “My story is being seen, my story is being told.”
What started as a humble initiative to create programs to empower artists, filmmakers and communities to transform the world through their storytelling, has now spanned the globe. This initiative grew into an organization that then made a name for itself as the largest LGBTQIA+ film festival in the United States of America.
Outfest, which started in 1982 as the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Los Angeles, will be marking its 40th anniversary in 2022 by premiering over 200 films across multiple venues in a 10-day period, beginning July 14-24 in Los Angeles. The films will comprise a large cross-section of narratives, films, and documentaries that will span several genres and sexual identities.
Mike Dougherty, the festival’s Director of Festival Programming had the following to say when asked about this year’s lineup:
“I’m incredibly proud of the work our programming team has done to craft a lineup that celebrates the history of the LGBTQIA+ community and the art we create, and that also spotlights innovative new work that will pave the way for 40 more years of spectacular, groundbreaking queer cinema.”
The lineup will include a whopping 42 world premiers and will also be representing 29 different countries from around the world. The festival lineup is split into varying categories and will include Billy Porter as he makes his directorial debut with the showcase of Anything’s Possible, which is set to be shown on the opening night of the festival.
Additionally, some features to look out for will include the LA premiere of Sundance favorite Mars One, a family drama from Brazil that follows a love story between two women; as well as the world premiere of Phea, a modern lesbian spin on the myth of Orpheus (starring singer and musician Sherika Sherard).
Outfest Los Angeles will also include their episodics section which will boast the premiere of the first episode in the series Halfsies, written by producer/writer Des Moran (Grown-Ish, Queer as Folk). The series will follow six black half-siblings as they attempt to re-enter each other’s lives after a death in the family.
This year’s documentary centerpiece Mama Bears follows a group of devout Christian mothers as they try and navigate their beliefs and the unwavering love they have for their children. Follow along as over 30,000 mama bears attempt to make the world kinder and safer for their LGBTQ children.
Not to be forgotten are the special events also taking place throughout the film festival. The events will include the notable Trans, Non Binary and Intersex Summit. In its 6th year, the summit will also include keynote speaker Raquel Willis who is an award winning writer and activist.
In addition to having Willis as a keynote speaker, the summit will include a comedy showcase which will feature hilarious trans, non binary and intersex comedians. The summit’s theme this year is a time capsule titled “Manifesting Our Future”, which is a nod to actively picture where we see ourselves in 50 to 100 or 1000 years from now.
Special events will also include a premier dance experience, a live read as well as a pitch event. The Concord Pitch Event is in partnership with Concord Originals and is a one-of-a-kind event that will act as a short film financing and IP licensing initiative. The initiative was launched at the Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC (Queer Trans Black Indigenous People of Color) Film Festival, and is in support of upcoming LGBTQIA+ filmmakers.
Outfest LA is not short of stories that represent a huge intersectionality of people, preferences and identities. In keeping with its efforts to bring empathy and vision to what is affectionately known as the ‘Alphabet Mafia', the film festival has beautifully comprised documentaries, narratives, short films, films and episodics that will bring joy, understanding and knowledge to all those who can intimately relate to the stories that are being portrayed.
Much credit is due to the storytellers that moved with bravery in order to put their stories out there for the world to see and also to Outfest for providing a space where these stories can come together, free of judgment.
Take this quote going into the festival: “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” - Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
Gayes, what are you looking forward to seeing the most? Purchase your tickets at outfestla.org.