Out on Film presented by WarnerMedia announced the lineup of films and events for the 33rd edition of the Atlanta-based LGBTQIA+ film festival today, its first as an Oscar ® qualifying film festival. One of the few film festivals on the regional circuit that has grown in recent years (expanding from an 8-day event to an 11-day event), this year’s film festival will be a virtual edition taking place September 24-October 4.
Highlights will include the Opening Night screening of Cindy Abel’s celebrated documentary SURVIVING THE SILENCE, the Closing Night screening of Monica Zanetti’s crowd-pleasing prom comedy ELLIE AND ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT), special anniversary screenings, the presentation of Out on Film’s Icon Award to Margaret Cho, and a “Conversation of Film” with SCREAM and Dawson’s Creek scribe Kevin Williamson.
Out on Film will once again offer a rich selection of LGBTQIA+ films curated from around the world. 39 features (24 narrative films, 15 documentaries), 15 shorts programs with 82 films and a webseries representing 20 countries will be screened this year.
Out on Film Festival Director, Jim Farmer, said, “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. 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.”
Out on Film will screen Abel’s documentary SURVIVING THE SILENCE as its opening night selection on Thursday, September 24. The Atlanta resident’s latest film focuses on the landmark 1992 military review of Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer for admitting she was a lesbian.
Presiding over the military review board was Colonel Pat Thompson, a decorated army nurse, who, herself, was a closeted lesbian. The screening will be followed by a Q&A including Cindy Abel, and the documentary’s principal subjects, Colonel Pat Thompson, Barbara Brass and Margarethe “Greta” Cammermeyer.
The Closing Night selection is Monica Zanetti’s Australian comedy ELLIE AND ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT) which follows 17-year-old Ellie, who struggles to find the courage to ask her classmate, Abbie, to the formal. Luckily her Aunt Tara, a lesbian who died in the 80’s has shown up as a “Fairy Godmother” to dish out advice, whether Ellie wants it or not.
The recipient of this year’s Out on Film Icon Award, Margaret Cho has been an unstoppable entertainment force since she arrived on the comedy scene more than two decades ago. Cho’s stand up career began in the 90s and quickly reached the point where she had performed over 300 concerts within two years. Her groundbreaking, controversial, and short-lived ABC sitcom, All-American Girl (1994) soon followed. In 1999, her off Broadway one-woman show, I’m The One That I Want, toured the country to national acclaim and was made into a best-selling book and feature film of the same name. In 2001, she embarked on her Notorious C.H.O. smash-hit 37-city national tour that culminated in a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. In March of 2003, Revolution yielded a CD recording which was nominated for a Grammy for Comedy Album of the Year. 2007 brought about the True Colors Tour with Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and Erasure and others, benefiting the Human Rights Campaign.
Cho returned to TV in 2008 with the VH1 series, The Cho Show. After an international tour with her show Beautiful, it subsequently aired as a special on Showtime in 2009, and then released as both a DVD and a book. In 2009 she starred in the comedy/drama series Drop Dead Diva, which aired for six seasons on the Lifetime network and was filmed in Atlanta. Next up was Dancing with the Stars, and then 2010 culminated with her second Grammy Award nomination for “Comedy Album of the Year” for Cho Dependent, her incredibly funny collection of music featuring collaborations with Fiona Apple, Andrew Bird, Grant Lee Phillips, Tegan & Sara, Ben Lee and more. In 2012, she received an Emmy nomination for “Best Guest Performance” on Thirty Rock. In 2015, Cho was one of the hosts of TLC’s All About SEX, and debuted her Showtime special/DVD psyCHO. 2016 included the release of her next studio album, American Myth, and she was named special co-host of E!’s Fashion Police. Most recently, she has been a frequent presence on TV with appearances on everything from The Masked Singer to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Known for its special events, Out on Film will again deliver on that front with a 20-year anniversary screening of Cho’s classic comedy concert film I’m The One That I Want (2000), followed by a virtual interview with Cho, touching on aspects of her career, activism, and relationship with the LBTQIA+ community, a 20-year anniversary look at acclaimed writer/director Del Shores’ beloved comedy SORDID LIVES (2000), including a post-screening Q&A with Shores and TBA cast members. Out On Film favorite Chad Darnell (BIRTHDAY CAKE, and the upcoming THE UNDERTAKER’S WIFE) directs an all-star cast reading of beloved Atlanta playwright Topher Payne’s award-winning “Perfect Arrangement,” benefiting Rainbow House Coalition in Atlanta.
Another highlight will be Out on Film’s presentation of a special “Conversation on Film” with Kevin Williamson. The writer and major creative force behind Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, and the SCREAM films, among countless others will talk about growing up gay in the South, his career, the relationship the LGBTQIA+ community has with horror, and why he believes they have responded so favorably to his work through the years.
Additional film highlights include; 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 still reeling from heartbreak, who makes a unforeseen connection with an All-American guy; Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare’s CICADA about a man who comes out to the world after trying to suppress his reality and date women, who develops an intense relationship with a man of color struggling with deep wounds of his own; Todd Verow’s GOODBYE SEVENTIES, a drama about a young man experiencing the golden age of gay pornography in New York City will make its world premiere; and one of Out on Film’s favorite filmmakers, Lisa Donato, making her feature film directorial debut with GOSSAMER FOLDS, about a boy uprooted and unwillingly moved to the suburbs of Kansas City, who bonds with his transgender next door neighbor (played by Empire’s Alexandra Grey). Each screening will be followed by Q&As with the filmmakers and cast.
Among the featured documentaries that will include Q&As with their directors and the films’ subjects include; 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 FF, 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, which looks at London’s first gay rugby club and its beginnings in the mid 90s; and Posy Dixon’s KEYBOARD FANTASIES: THE BEVERLY GLENN-COPELAND STORY, which follows the curious story of Keyboard Fantasies, a recording of folk-electronica hybrid music that decades since its creation in obscurity in the mid-80s has unearthed fans today interested in its creator.
For information on purchasing passes, tickets, and additional details on Out on Film, please go to: outonfilm.org.
The 2020 Out on Film official selections:
Opening Night Selection
SURVIVING THE SILENCE
Director: Cindy Abel
Country: US, Running Time: 94 min
In 1992, Colonel Pat Thompson was a decorated army nurse, only two years away from retirement. She was asked to preside over the military review board that eventually dismissed Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer for admitting she was a lesbian. Although Thompson had served her country with distinction for over thirty years—from conflict zones in Central America to working inside the Pentagon—that appointment was perhaps the hardest. In that moment, she had to protect her own life secret: that she too was a lesbian and living privately with her life partner Barbara Brass for many years.
Closing Night Selection
ELLIE AND ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT)
Director: Monica Zanetti
Country: Australia, Running Time: 80 min
In this buoyant feature, 17-year-old Ellie is struggling to find the courage to ask her classmate, Abbie, to the formal. Luckily her Aunt Tara, a lesbian who died in the 80’s has shown up as a “Fairy Godmother” to dish out advice, whether Ellie wants it or not. This infectious comedy thrives with the chemistry between the two leading characters and has a surprising emotional depth.
MARGARET CHO: I’M THE ONE THAT I WANT (2000)
Director: Lionel Coleman
Country: US, Running Time: 96 min
Filmed at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater, Margaret Cho performs a comedy monologue discussing her professional life’s trajectory, her sitcom, the weight loss she endured for the job, the show’s eventual cancellation, and other ups and downs leading to her growth into her own “voice”.
SORDID LIVES (2000)
Director: Del Shores
Country: US, Running Time: 111 min
As three generations of a family in a small Texas town gather for a funeral, we learn the sad, trashy truth of their “sordid lives”.
AS I AM
Director: Anthony Bawn
Country: US, Running Time: 63 min
Directed by former Atlantan Anthony Bawn, AS I AM is a story of a young man running from the truth about his childhood returns in order to correct his past but ends up discovering a side of himself that he suppressed.
Director: Mike Mosallam
Country: US, Running Time: 92 min
Set against the twinkling lights of West Hollywood, BREAKING FAST is a romantic comedy that follows Mo, a practicing Muslim still reeling from heartbreak. When an All-American guy named Kal offers to join him in his nightly Iftars (the traditional meal eaten by Muslims during Ramadan), meal after meal, the two start to discover they have more in common than meets the eye. Featuring: Haaz Sleiman (Apple+’s Little America), Michael Cassidy (People of Earth), Amin El Gamal (Good Trouble)
Directors: Matt Fifer, Kieran Mulcare
Country: US, Running Time: 93 min
After a string of unsuccessful and awkward encounters with women, Ben goes “back on the dick” (as his sister enthusiastically exclaims). CICADA follows Ben as he comes out to the world and develops an intense relationship with Sam, a man struggling with deep wounds of his own. As the summer progresses and their intimacy grows, Ben ultimately gains the strength to face a childhood trauma he has long suppressed.
Director: Jonathan Wysocki
Country: US, Running Time: 91 min
Escondido, California, 1994. It’s the end of summer and Gene is preparing for his high school drama friends’ final murder mystery slumber party. The theatrical hostess, Rose, will fly off to start college the next morning, followed by earnest Claire, magnetic Oscar, and sarcastic Ally. Yet Gene has bigger problems than being left behind by his best friends: he wants to come out of the closet – but is terrified of what they might think. Once Gene arrives to the party, his burdensome secret isn’t the night’s only obstacle. An unexpected visit by JD, a judgmental rebel, sews the seeds for discord and makes the sheltered Christian teens question their readiness for the “real world” to come. Will the tested friendships survive the night – and the enormous life changes that loom?
Director: Daniel Nolasco
Country: Brazil, Running Time: 110 min
The sexy scorcher DRY WIND is Daniel Nolasco’s follow-up to last year’s MR. LEATHER. The area around Catalan in Brazil’s state of Goiás is dry, very dry. Sandro’s life here is somewhat monotonous. He works in a fertilizer factory and divides his days between the city club, work, soccer with friends and city parties. He has a purely sexual relationship with his colleague Ricardo. He always seems to be a bit of an outsider, not comfortable in his own skin, not really belonging. When Maicon, a man straight out of a Tom of Finland illustration, shows up in their small town and flirts with Ricardo, his burgeoning feelings of jealousy set a change in motion.
GIVE OR TAKE
Director: Paul Riccio
Country: US, Running Time: 98 min
When a disillusioned New Yorker’s father dies, he goes home to Cape Cod and prepares the house for sale while sharing it with his father’s late in life live-in boyfriend. With nothing to separate them they are forced to negotiate how to remember and move on from the man they both loved
GOODBYE SEVENTIES WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Todd Verow
Country: US, Running Time: 92 min
Veteran director Todd Verow’s latest is a fascinating 70s period piece. In the 1970s, the golden age of gay pornography in New York City, a promising chorus boy 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
Director: Lisa Donato
Country: US, Running Time: 96 min
In 1986, ten-year-old Tate is uprooted and unwillingly moved to the suburbs of Kansas City. As his parent’s marriage unravels, Tate finds solace in the unlikely friendships of his next-door neighbors: a retired college professor and his transgender daughter, Gossamer. Director: Out On Film favorite, Lisa Donato – in her feature film debut – has a way with her actors from Alexandra Grey as the titular characters.
Director: Philippe Talavera
Country: Namibia, Running Time: 60 min
In Namibia, a country where sodomy is still a crime and gay relationships are stigmatized against, two lives intersect: George, a middle class insurance broker living in central town, Windhoek, and Simeon, a kapana seller who lives in Katutura, Windhoek’s township. Two secrets. One unlikely meeting in a bar.
Director: Jon Garcia
Country: US, Running Time: 118 min
In the new film from beloved filmmaker Jon Garcia (THE FALLS Trilogy), Ruben and Carlos become cellmates in prison. As Ruben learns the ropes, Carlos becomes a mentor and then a lover. When Carlos is released, Ruben must deal with his heartbreak until he is released himself and has a chance at a reconciliation. LUZ examines if love can exist in the real world for these two men.
Director: Morgan Ingari
Country: US, Running Time: 101 min
Seeking direction and purpose, Milo rashly decides to become a surrogate and egg donor for an older gay man she meets in a bar. However, as Milo becomes increasingly attached to him, she starts leveraging the pregnancy as a means of staying embedded in his life.
Director: Hong Khaou
Country: UK, Running Time: 85 min
Henry Golding (CRAZY RICH ASIANS) stars in the beautiful drama as Kit, who returns to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time since he was six years old when his family fled the country in the aftermath of the Vietnam-American war. Struggling to make sense of himself in a city he’s no longer familiar with, he embarks on a personal journey across the country that opens up the possibility for friendship, love and happiness.
MUSIC FOR BLEEDING HEARTS
Director: Rafael Gomes
Country: Brazil, Running Time: 102 min
In present-day São Paulo, a trio of young hearts are about to break. Ricaro has a boyfriend and a wandering eye for a new coworker. Isabella is taking a break from both her boyfriend and best friend Ricardo. Hopeless romantic Felipe has suddenly found himself caught between the two of them. These three have big dreams, yearning passion, and opinionated acquaintances, but at the mercy of Cupid. This charming film is from the producer of THE WAY HE LOOKS and explores gay, bisexual, and lesbian relationships with depth and charm.
NO HARD FEELINGS
Director: Faraz Shariat
Country: Germany, Running Time: 92 min)
Parvis, the son of exiled Iranians, was caught shoplifting. He is sentenced to community service at a refugee shelter where he meets the siblings Banafshe and Amon, who have fled Iran. As a romantic attraction between Parvis and Amon grows, the fragile relationship between the three is put to the test.
SALT AND PEPPER
Director: Miriam Herrero del Valle
Country: Spain, Running Time: 87 min
Cross roads, forms of love. Grandma Carmen’s 80th birthday celebration will bring together several generations of women from the same family in a coastal hotel. A weekend, a family. Different paths, forms of feminism, ways of relating.
Director: Emma Seligman
Country: US, Running Time: 77 min
A young bisexual Jewish woman whose family is sitting shiva following a death, is unexpectedly forced to juggle her personal interactions when both her ex-girlfriend and her sugar daddy show up.
Director: Brandon Krajewski
Country: US, Running Time: 95 min
A gay couple heads to Central Coast California to celebrate their newly-inked divorce with wine, sun, a threesome, and more wine.
THE STRONG ONES (LOS FUERTES)
Director: Omar Zuniga Hidalgo
Country: Chile, Running Time: 90 min
Lucas travels to visit his sister to a remote town in southern Chile. In front of the ocean and the fog, he meets Antonio, a boatswain in a local fishing boat. When an intense romance grows between them, their strength, their independence and their adulthood become immovable in front of the tide.
Directors: Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Gaukur Úlfarsson
Country: Iceland, Running Time: 90 min
Drug addict Hulda is arrested accused of murdering her brother. After she is let go because of insufficient evidence, she meets Hjörtur, a thousand-year-old gay vampire. Together they have to fight a cult while being investigated by a rogue detective.
TWILIGHT’S KISS (SUK SUK)
Director: Ray Yeung
Country: Hong Kong, Running Time: 92 min
Winner of several Hong Kong Film Awards, this extraordinary film follows two closeted married men in their twilight years. One day Pak, 70, a taxi driver who refuses to retire, meets Hoi, 65, a retired single father, in a park. Despite years of societal and personal pressure, they are proud of the families they have created through hard work and determination. Yet in that brief initial encounter, something is unleashed in them which had been suppressed for so many years. As both men recount and recall their personal histories, they also contemplate a possible future together.
TWO OF US
Director: Filippo Meneghetti
Countries: France/Luxembourg/Belgium, Running Time: 99 min
Penshioners Nina and Madeleine have hidden their deep and passionate love for many decades, but their bond is put to the test when they are suddenly unable to move freely between each other’s apartments.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Directors: Jen Rainin, Rivkah Beth Meadow
Country: US, Running Time: 95 min
From its start in 1990, Curve magazine was a visionary and unapologetic celebration of lesbian life from cover to cover. Facing the magazine’s possible demise in 2019, director Jen Rainin and Curve founder Franco Stevens explore questions of lesbian visibility, legacy, and current day issues through interviews with contemporary LGBTQIA+ tastemakers, “celesbians” including Melissa Etheridge, Jewelle Gomez, Denise Frohman, Kate Kendell, and Lea DeLaria, along with rich archival footage recounting the formation of a lesbian cultural institution.
ARMY OF LOVERS IN THE HOLY LAND
Director: Asaf Galay
Country: Israel, Running Time: 65 min
Thirty years after launching into international stardom, queer disco-pop band Army of Lovers embarks on a new chapter when frontman Jean-Pierre Barda uproots his existence to move from Sweden to Israel. So begins this fascinating documentary that examines home, identity, family and the pull of Aliyah (immigration to Israel), even after age 50. A blend of ABBA, the B-52s and performance art, Army of Lovers is still rocking pride celebrations and underground club parties with its mix of high camp, daring music videos and a motto of “More is more, less is a bore.”
THE CAPOTE TAPES
Director: Ebs Burnough
Countries: US/UK, Running Time: 91 min
“Answered Prayers” was meant to be Truman Capote’s greatest masterpiece, an epic portrait of New York’s glittering jet-set society. Instead, it sparked his downfall. Through never-before-heard audio archives and interviews with Capote’s friends and enemies, THE CAPOTE TAPES reveals the rise and fall of America’s most iconic gay writer.
CONSENT FACTORY: LESBO-QUEER PERSPECTIVES
Director: Mathilde Capone
Country: Canada, Running Time: 75 min
What if lesbo-queer communities had something to share about the singularities of their sexualities? Through the complex topic of consent, sixteen protagonists from these communities speak up. Could there be blurred lines, a continuum between consent and aggression? How can we defeat rape culture and innovate in matters of consent? How has the notion of aggression been used historically to exclude trans women? In a deep introspection of their intimacies, these protagonists ask questions, get angry, laugh, create other possibilities. They suggest to look more closely at consent, from the experience of their marginalized communities, their subcultures and their explorations.
Directors: Patrick Sammon, Bennett Singer
Country: US, Running Time: 81 min
This powerful new documentary by Bennett Singer (BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN) illuminates a pivotal yet largely unknown chapter in the struggle for LGBTQIA+ equality: the campaign that led the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1973. CURED takes audiences behind the scenes of this riveting narrative to chronicle the strategy and tactics that led to a crucial victory in the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights.
Director: Susani Mahadura
Country: Finland, Running Time: 54 min
Kelet, a young Somali trans woman, has left her family in Manchester and returned to her childhood home Finland, where with the support of her friends in the Ballroom community, she is following her dream of becoming a model. KELET is a documentary about pursuing your dreams and the importance of family and community.
KEYBOARD FANTASIES: THE BEVERLY GLENN-COPELAND STORY
Director: Posy Dixon
Country: UK, Running Time: 63 min
As a sci-fi obsessed woman living in near isolation, Beverly Glenn-Copeland wrote and self-released Keyboard Fantasies in Huntsville, Ontario back in 1986. Recorded in an Atari-powered home-studio, the cassette featured seven tracks of a curious folk-electronica hybrid, a sound realized far before its time. Three decades on, the musician – now Glenn Copeland – began to receive emails from people across the world, thanking him for the music they’d recently discovered. Courtesy of a rare-record collector in Japan, a reissue of Keyboard Fantasies and subsequent plays by Four Tet, Caribou and more, the music had finally found its audience two generations down the line.
Director: Gail Willumsen
Country: US, Running Time: 53 min
OUT LOUD chronicles the ups and downs of the first season of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles — the largest group of transgender and gender nonconforming people anywhere in the world who come together regularly to sing. As the choristers gear up for their 2016 public concert debut, they share their inspiring life stories and reveal what it means to be trans in America. This extraordinary chorus makes more than music. It’s making history.
OUTRUN THE SKY
Director: Alvin Agarrat
Country: US, Running Time: 73 min
OUTRUN THE SKY (OTS) is a product of Project GRIOT. OTS tells the stories of 5 Black gay men living with HIV in the most impacted cities for HIV across the South (Miami, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Atlanta and Jackson Mississippi). OTS not only profiles the 5 men-their diagnosis, treatment and support-, but it also tells the story of the cities they navigate to receive care and support. OTS is a continuation of works like “Tongues Untied” by Marlon Riggs, as it seeks to humanize the people living the HIV epidemic.
Director: Megan Daniels
Country: US, Running Time: 95 min
PROPER PRONOUNS tells the story of Dawn, as she seeks validation in the pulpit and reconciliation in her marriage, problems she did not face when she was Duane. The film chronicles the emotional journey that four transgender ministers and their spouses are taking as they try to redefine their identities and prove to the Southern community that they belong in the pulpit.
STEELERS: THE WORLD’S FIRST GAY RUGBY CLUB
Director: Eammon Ashton-Atkinson
Country: UK, Running Time: 80 min
STEELERS: THE WORLD’S FIRST GAY RUGBY CLUB is a feature-length documentary about London’s first gay rugby club which started in London in 1995. Following the club’s journey at the world’s biggest international gay rugby tournament, the Bingham Cup, the film explores the how a community joined together by their sexuality is transforming lives.
THE UNLIKELY STORY OF THE LESBIANS OF FIRST FRIDAY
Director: Kathryn L Beranich
Country: US, Running Time: 82 min
In the 1980’s, a group calling itself First Friday sprung fully formed from the imaginations of a group of lesbians living in the small city of Roanoke, Virginia. Some of the women were locals and some moved to the Roanoke Valley for employment. It was the Reagan era and homosexuals were vilified, especially in the Bible Belt. Spurred on by the pure serendipity of finding each other, the group created safe space, threw fantastic events and grew a community of lasting friendships, all in the shadow of the Moral Majority.This little slice of lesbian history is told through the voices and anecdotes of First Friday members and the women who joined in the fun.
Director: StormMiguel Florez
Country: US, Running Time: 57 min
A documentary about secret code shared among lesbian youth in 1970s/80s Albuquerque. They didn’t all know each other, but they know how to find each other