Established in 1987, Atlanta’s Out On Film LGBTQ Film Festival is in the midst of its 11-day 2020 virtual edition, which ends on Sunday October 4th. The 33rd Out on Film offers a diverse selection of LGBTQIA+ narrative features, documentaries and shorts, with 82 films from 20 countries. The festival opened on September 24th with Atlanta resident Cindy Abel’s latest documentary Surviving the Silence, focusing on the landmark 1992 military review of Colonel Margarethe “Greta” Cammermeyer for revealing she was a lesbian, and will close with Monica Zanetti’s Australian supernatural prom comedy Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt). Saturday October 3rd will see the festival head to the drive-in to host a special 40th anniversary screening of Alan Parker’s classic Fame. The festival will also include an East Coast premiere of two episodes from HBO Max’s upcoming four-part documentary series, Equal, which focuses on LGBTQ+ pioneers. This year’s Out on Film Icon Award will go to LGBTQ+ ally and trailblazer Margaret Cho, and the festival programme includes a 20th anniversary screening of the stand-up queen’s classic concert film I’m The One That I Want, plus a virtual interview with the legendary comedian.
Out on Film 2020 narrative feature highlights include the world premiere of New Queer Cinema filmmaker Todd Verow’s latest feature, Goodbye Seventies, which the festival describes as “a fascinating 70s period piece.” In the golden age of gay pornography in New York City, a promising chorus boy (Chris Rehman) is injured and told he will never dance again. Distraught and unimpressed with the “art” films playing seedy Times Square theaters, he gets his friends and lovers together and they start making their own hard core movies. Against all odds the films are wildly successful until drugs, AIDS and cheap video technology bring it all crashing down. Then there’s former Atlantan Anthony Bawn’s As I Am, about a young man who makes an unexpected discovery about himself while trying to run form his past; Mike Mosallam’s romantic comedy Breaking Fast, about a practicing Muslim reeling from heartbreak; Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare’s relationship drama Cicada; and Lisa Donato’s feature film directorial debut Gossamer Folds starring Alexandra Grey, produced by Yeardley Smith. Other fsetival favourites we’ve previously covered include Jonathan Wysocki’s teen comedy Dramarama, Daniel Nolasco’s Dry Wind, Hong Khaou’s Monsoon, Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby, Omar Zuniga Hidalgo’s The Strong Ones, and Filippo Meneghetti’s Two of Us.
Documentary highlights include Ebs Burnough’s The Capote Tapes; Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer’s Cured; Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Meadow’s Ahead of the Curve about the beginnings and growth of Curve magazine and founder Franco Stevens; Asaf Galay’s Army of Lovers in the Holy Land, a Best Documentary winner at the Haifa International Film Festival about the transition and life change the queer disco-pop band Army of Lovers went through when frontman Jean-Pierre Barda uprooted his existence to move from Sweden to Israel; Eammon Ashton-Atkinson’s Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club; and Posy Dixon’s fascinating Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story.
The two preview episodes from HBO Max’s docu-series Equal, will be the second, titled “Transgender Pioneers”, directed by Kimberly Reed. It charts the events of an August night in 1966 when trans people rose up against police harassment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin: Compton’s Cafeteria. Subjects include Christine Jorgensen (Jamie Clayton), Lucy Hicks Anderson (Alexandra Grey) and Jack Starr (Theo Germaine), who chose to live their lives as they chose amidst a society that criminalised their lives. Also screening will be Episode Three: “Black is Beautiful, Gay Is Good!” Directed by Stephen Kijak, the episode chronicles the lives of Lorraine Hansberry (Samira Wiley), Bayard Rustin (Keiynan Lonsdale) and José Sarria (Jai Rodriguez), who made a run for county supervisor, years before Harvey Milk.
There will also be a ‘Conversation on Film’ with the writer and creative force behind Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, and the Scream movies, Kevin Williamson who will talk about growing up gay in the South, his career, and the relationship that the LGBTQIA+ community has with horror.
“2020 has been a challenging journey thus far for all of us, so along with the films that we have found from world cinema titles to award-winners, and films that have been popular thus far at other film festivals, the theme of the journey struck us for our special events with Margaret Cho and Kevin Williamson,” comments Out on Film Festival Director, Jim Farmer. “She is a certified LGBTQIA+ icon (thus the award we will present to her) and he shaped pop culture in a major way during a heady period writing for film and television. Both have had a fascinating journey leading up to the peak of their cultural influence and beyond. As one of the longest running LGBTQIA+ film festivals, we embrace connecting those dots through our history as well as celebrating and presenting the best of the new films and filmmakers today.”
For more details and to purchase passes and tickets, head to outonfilm.org.