The Multicultural, Star-Studded 26th Out on Film Festival

As the summer days are ending and cooler weather creeps in, indoor refuge is becoming more desirable. Lo and behold, the 26th annual Out on Film Festival is around the corner. To be more specific, at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema from October 2nd to 9th. Here’s why y’all should come out to Out on Film.

Like every proper extravaganza, it opens with a bang. Blackbird is a triad of the talents of Mo’Nique in her first role since her raw and fearless Oscar-winning performance of a psychologically and physically monstrous mother in Precious, Isaiah Washington who won critical raves last year for his turn in the gritty Sundance favorite Blue Caprice, and writer-director Patrick-Ian Polk, who has made a handful of acclaimed black LGBT films and TV shows, and who will also be in attendance. Joining him will be Julian Walker, who makes his auspicious movie debut as the protagonist, a gay seventeen-year old choir boy living in small town Mississippi, dealing with his sexuality while helping his mother cope with his sister’s disappearance.

The bookend film, Eat with Me, the directorial debut of David Au, who will grace the festival with his presence, is an exciting finale promises Jim Farmer, director of Out on Film. “It’s funny and warm and romantic, with a terrific mother-son relationship at its core. It’s also a terrific food movie – and George Takei pops up for a surprise appearance.”

With over 80 films in the eight day schedule, there’s something bound to catch your fancy. There is an astonishing amount of diversity in this year’s lineup. Transgender filmmaker Andrea James’s Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy, which chronicles comedian and character actor Mapa and his husband’s journey to adopt a baby, and the winner of the Berlin Film Festival and the LA Outfest The Circle, a love story between a teacher and a transgender performer and an exploration of a pioneering 1950s European Swiss-based gay organization, are just a couple of the myriad of thought-provoking documentaries.

Many of the films and/or their creators come from all across the globe. A Venezuelan/Spanish co-production My Straight Son, winner of this year’s Goya award (Spain’s equivalent of the Oscar) and the French produced drama Eastern Boys, a raw account of Eastern European sex trafficking, are just two of the many international delights. Cambodian director Hong Khaou’s feature film debut Lilting, received great acclaim from Sundance for its sensitive and realistic handling of the cultural divide between a Cambodian Chinese mother who has recently lost her son and a mysterious British  stranger played by Ben Whishaw, who is a staple in art films (I’m Not There) and mainstream fare (Skyfall).

There’s an excellent output that feature dynamic women in front and behind the camera. Madeleine Olnek, who has been named by the Independent Spirit Awards as “someone to watch,” brings us The Foxy Merkins, a madcap romp about two lesbian hookers “who wind their way through a world of bargain-hunting housewives and double-dealing conservative women in this female buddy comedy.” Tru Love, co-directed by Kate Johnson and Shauna McDonald, is a poignant Canadian drama about a 30-something bed-hopping lesbian who meets her soul mate, a 60-something mother of her best friend. 

I’ve only scratched at the surface of the treasure trove of feature and short films. Check out the complete list of gems here.

Thanks to a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Out on Film got more star-studded with several of the filmmakers and creative personnel appearing in person. In addition to Polk, the directors include Atlantan talents Christopher Hines with his latest documentary Bad Ass Gays and Del “Sordid Lives” Shores with a new comedy Naked.Sordid.Reality.

To purchase a pass for the whole festival, visit here while a la carte tickets are available here. Grab your seat while you can.