OUTstream Film Fest, which will make its debut June 1-7, 2020, announced its initial lineup of titles. Two festival-favorite documentaries will open and close the brand new film festival, with Michael Barnett’s CHANGING THE GAME opening OUTstream Film Fest and David Charles Rodrigues’ GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH taking the Closing Night slot. The LGBTQIA+ focused film festival will kick off Pride month amid the COVID-19 crisis offering a selection of films celebrating queer cinema from around the world with its initial 11 titles representing 10 countries, as the film festival seeks to bring all audiences together online to enjoy the films, as well as be virtually introduced to the filmmakers.
OUTstream Film Fest Co-Founder and Co-Director Ben McCarthy, said, “We are thrilled to announce these first 11 films, which come to us from all over the world, to bring people together all across the country, of any sexual identity, to be entertained, touched, enlightened, and affected – as one. While we can not be in a theatre together yet, we can still connect virtually through the shared experience of watching a film and then experiencing and participating remotely in a Q&A with the filmmakers, actors, and/or subjects of the films. The virtual film festival allows us to bring a wider cross section of people from greater distances all together via this shared event; in some ways, in a more substantial way than is available with a physical event.”
Co-Founder and Co-Director Megan Garbayo, added, “It starts, begins, and ends with great films, but we have worked hard to add exciting panel discussions, Q&As, and live performances to make OUTstream Film Fest a full experience for our audience members. Soon we will announce some short film programs and episodic projects as well as additional special guests. During a time when people are just beginning to consider the idea of venturing back outside their homes and being among other people – socially distanced, of course – in a significant way, we look forward to reminding everyone, through art the things we all have in common. As varied as they are from different countries and cultures, these films share an intimate and entertaining focus about LGBTQIA+ people, and beyond that, a universal look at what connects all of us.”
Barnett’s CHANGING THE GAME will be offered as OUTstream Film Fest’s Opening Night selection, on Monday, June 1 at 7:00PM EST. The documentary looks at three transgender high school athletes competing in their sports, while also challenging the boundaries and perceptions of fairness and discrimination. Following the film presentation, there will be a special panel discussion featuring film subjects Mack Beggs, Sarah Rose Huckman, and Andraya Yearwood, as well as film producer Alex Schmider, ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, Athlete Ally Director of Policy and Programs Anne Lieberman, and professional golfer Maya Reddy will. Journalist Tre’vell Anderson (Out, Los Angeles Times) will be the moderator.
Rodrigues’ GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH is the film festival’s Closing Night selection on Sunday, June 7 at 7:00PM EST. The film follows the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, as they embark on a tour of the American Deep South following the 2016 election. Following the screening, will be a Q&A with Rodrigues, as well as an exclusive performance by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
Special Showcase screenings will feature Leon Le’s award-winning Vietnamese drama SONG LANG, and Audrey Jean-Baptiste’s documentary FABULOUS. SONG LANG is about a star-crossed bond forged between a brooding debt collector and a charming folk opera performer set against the rich tapestry of a gorgeously rendered 1980s Saigon. Among other awards, the film won Audience Choice for Best Feature at Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival (2019) and Best New Director at the Beijing International Film Festival (2019). Jean-Baptiste’s FABULOUS focuses on French Guianan dancer Lasseindra’s distinctive voguing, runway walking, and body dropping dance battling which took her from New York City’s underground to Paris.
Additional highlights include Santiago Loza’s sci-fi trans masterpiece BRIEF STORY FROM THE GREEN PLANET, about an Argentinian family who discover an E.T, which was a winner at the Berlin Film Festival, and Ruth Caudeli’s Colombian magical realism film SECOND STAR ON THE RIGHT, about a 30-something bisexual woman who tries to make it as an actress while her friends settle down, leaving her to ponder her own arrested development.
Dedicated to providing filmmakers with compensation for their work, OUTstream Film Fest will be offering profit sharing with those participating for their screenings. All films will be available for viewing starting at the “Watch Party” time for 24 hours. To purchase tickets and passes, please go to: www.outstreamfest.com/boxoffice.
OUTstream Film Fest 2020 films and descriptions
CHANGING THE GAME
Director: Michael Barnett
Country: USA, Running Time: 91 min
Three transgender high school athletes from across the country compete at the top of their fields, while also challenging the boundaries and perceptions of fairness and discrimination. The film illuminates the individual struggles and successes of each athlete while shedding light on an adolescence under siege by societal constructs of gender. Weighing their love of the game against public outrage, the courage demonstrated by the film’s subjects sticks with viewers long after the credits roll.
GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH
Director: David Charles Rodrigues
Country: USA, Running Time: 100 min
In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Gay Chorus Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir; the tour brings a message of music, love and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us — faith, politics, sexual identity — are set aside by the soaring power of music, humanity and a little drag.
Director: Leon Le
Country: Vietnam, Running Time: 90 min
A star-crossed bond is forged between brooding debt collector Dung (Lien Binh Phat) and charming folk opera performer Linh Phung (played by Vietnamese pop star Isaac) set against the rich tapestry of a gorgeously rendered 1980s Saigon. Leon Le’s directorial debut is a must-see cinematic masterpiece for fans of both queer and Asian cinema. SONG LANG won Audience Choice for Best Feature at Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival (2019) and Director Leon Le won Best New Director at Beijing International Film Festival (2019).
Director: Audrey Jean-Baptiste
Country: France, Running Time: 47 min
French Guianan dancer Lasseindra learned voguing, runway walking, and body dropping dance battling from her found family in New York City’s underground before moving to Paris to foster the French ballroom scene. In this documentary addressing overlapping struggles regarding race, religion, culture, and queerness, director Audrey Jean-Baptiste captures Lasseindra’s return to her rigidly gendered home country, where she teaches voguing workshops to LGBTQ+ youth.
Director: Simon Amstell
Country: United Kingdom, Running Time: 85 min
In writer-director-comedian Simon Amstell’s witty and bittersweet drama-comedy about love, art, and friendship, twenty-something filmmaker Benjamin (Colin Morgan), finds himself falling for Noah, a charming French musician, in the midst of trying to launch his second feature film. Despite the efforts of his best friend Stephen and caustic, hard-drinking publicist Billie, he bumbles along, making missteps wherever he goes, as he tries to step outside of his comfort zone and find the happiness he is longing for.
BRIEF STORY FROM THE GREEN PLANET
Director: Santiago Loza
Country: Argentina, Running Time: 75 min
“Don’t be scared of what you’re about to see.” Winner of the Teddy at the Berlin International Film Festival, this sci-fi trans masterpiece follows Tania, Pedro, and Daniela’s journey after finding an alien in Tania’s late grandmother’s home. Simultaneously understated and entirely otherworldly, BRIEF STORY FROM THE GREEN PLANET is the perfect glance into how family, gender, and an Argentinian E.T. impact the ways we move through this world.
CLASES DE HISTORIA
Director: Marcelino Islas Hernández
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 105 min
Vero (Verónica Langer) is a 60-year-old woman caught in the monotony of her marriage and her job as a high school history teacher. She maintains a cold relationship with her husband and children, with whom she rarely has sporadic encounters and with whom the subject of cancer that she has suffered for a long time is hardly touched upon. Faced with the imminent possibility of reaching the end of her life, Vero faces the disease with apathy, while she debates whether or not to continue her treatment. Disillusioned, her life will take a turn when she meets Eva, a new student who shows signs of rebellion from the first day and who will become increasingly involved in her life.
Director: Gregor Schmidinger
Country: Austria, Running Time: 88 min
17-year-old Jakob wants nothing more than to feel alive. Uncontrollable anxiety attacks prevent him from doing so and force him to escape into virtual worlds. One night, he meets 26-year-old Kristjan in a cam chat. Their encounter marks the beginning of a transpersonal journey to the wounds of their souls.
Director: Pia Hellenthal
Country: Germany, Running Time: 85 min
When in 1996 Grateful Dead songwriter John Perry Barlow announced, “a civilization of the spirit” with cyberspace – “May it be more humane and just than the world your governments have built so far,” – F. was four years old. A few years later, the young Italian declared privacy an outdated concept, gave herself the name Eva and put her diary online on her first blog. Over the next few years, she became an Internet star, an underground icon of the blogging world, allowing anyone who wanted to participate in her maturing process. Today Eva is in her early twenties and oscillates between her “real” life as an anarchic vagabond, social marginal figure and “feminist” sex worker and the life of her Internet persona.
SECOND STAR ON THE RIGHT
Director: Ruth Caudeli
Country: Columbia, Running Time: 83 min
Emilia is a 30-something bisexual woman who refuses to grow up. Still living with her mother and trying to define her relationship with her lover Mariana, Emilia tries to make it as an actress while her friends settle down, leaving her to ponder her own arrested development. Equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting, SECOND STAR ON THE RIGHT tackles the dynamics of female friendship and adulthood with elements of magical realism.
VARIAÇÕES: GUARDIAN ANGEL
Director: João Maia
County: Portugal, Running Time: 109 min
The fashion. The emotional vulnerability. The live music. The hustle. This honest biopic of Portuguese pop-rock singer António Variações details his tribulations whilst trying to create the art he was born to share. Fun and flirty, this lovely film is the perfect reminder that you have to admire a gay man with a dangly-earring and a mission.