Outfest is going online.
Los Angeles’ LGBTQ film festival is shifting to a virtual event this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic with a roster that includes more than 160 films including 35 world premieres, 10 North American premieres and four U.S. premieres. Not all will be virtual, however. The festival has lined up “Outfest LA Under the Stars,” a series of drive-in events — a first in its 38-year history — to be held at Malibu’s Calamigos Ranch.
The venue will host screenings across six-nights on two lots, including kick-off and closing events, launching with the L.A. premiere of Sundance title The Nowhere Inn, starring musicians Annie Clark and Carrie Brownstein in a reality-bending twist of Clark’s alt-pop star persona St. Vincent. Other drive-in events will be announced in the coming weeks. The WarnerMedia-presented Outfest runs Aug. 20-30 and can be accessed at the festival’s website.
The slate, which includes more than 70 percent of films directed by women, transgender and POC filmmakers, includes films originally scheduled for other festivals, like Tribeca selections P.S. Burn This Letter Please; Cowboys starring Steve Zahn, Jillian Bell, Ann Dowd and Sasha Knight; and Big Freedia’s anti-gun advocacy doc Freedia Got A Gun; SXSW premiere titles including The Carnivores and Outfest LA’s U.S. centerpiece selection Shiva Baby, starring Rachel Sennott, Dianna Agron, and Fred Melamed.
Outfest’s other centerpiece selections include Posy Dixon’s documentary Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story; international centerpiece Monsoon, directed by Sundance and Outfest alum Hong Khaou (Lilting) and starring Henry Golding; and breakthrough centerpiece The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, the feature directing debut of Everybody Hates Chris co-creator Ali LeRoi.
Outfest’s closing film will be the world premiere of Outfest alum Travis Fine’s century-spanning triptych Two Eyes, in which queer and trans-identified people from three time periods in the American West discover how their identities fall within a multitude of expressions. The film’s cast includes Kiowa Gordon, Benjamin Rigby, Nakhane Toure, musician Ryan Cassata, and non-binary activist and performer Kate Bornstein. The film will premiere on the digital platform and as the final drive-in feature.
Other notable screenings include Three Chords and a Lie about gay country music artist Brandon Stansell’s return to his conservative hometown, which will be presented with a drive-in concert; and the world premiere of Emmy-nominated actor Scott Turner Schofield’s one-man show Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps, in which viewers can interactively choose which of Schofield’s 127 segments to watch.
“In this brand new, uncharted territory of digital festivals, we are honored that so many wonderful films have entrusted Outfest LA to be their festival home,” said Mike Dougherty, Outfest director of programming. “I’m incredibly excited that this stunning array of diverse talent — which represents Outfest’s continued mission to showcase the best work from LGBTQIA+ artists — will be more accessible than ever before.”
Added executive director Damien S. Navarro: “This year’s film festival is not only a reflection of Outfest’s historic trajectory — mixing innovation with media to cast an ever-widening net of diverse and global stories — it is also a testament to Outfest’s commitment to thrive in a moment in which the future of live events, independent film, and our own rights are threatened.”
Films will be in competition for jury and audience awards. U.S. narrative feature jurors include filmmaker James Sweeney (Straight Up); Neon’s director of acquisitions Ayo Kepher-Maat, Neon; and film critic Caden Mark Gardner. International narrative feature jurors are former AFI Fest and Film Independent artistic director Jacqueline Lyanga; Inside Out Toronto director of programming Andrew Murphy, and filmmaker Isabel Sandoval (Lingua Franca). Documentary jurors include filmmakers Sam Feder (Disclosure); Ben-Alex Dupris (Outfest winner Sweetheart Dancers), and Daresha Kyi (Chavela). International narrative shorts jurors are filmmakers Daniel Laabs (Outfest winner Jules of Light and Dark), Lauren Wolkstein (The Strange Ones); and Aurora Guerrero (Gentefied). U.S. narrative short jurors include actor Brian Michael Smith (911: Lone Star), and filmmakers Gillian Horvat (I Blame Society) and Carly Usdin (Suicide Kale).
The full lineup can be found here.