Curtain Up !
Under Jim Farmer’s direction, the Out On Film festival marks 29 years of the LGBT community on the big screen.
Movies have come a long way, and not just to your iPad or iPhone. Twenty-nine years ago, organizers of the then-fledgling Out On Film movie festival struggled to get submissions that touched on LGBT themes or were produced by a member of the community.
This year, a record 400 movies were submitted for the chance to share their stories with Atlanta from September 29 through October 6.
“We now get films from all over the world,” says Jim Farmer, the festival director since 2008 (and a regular contributor here at 17th South). “We start the submission process January 1 and have until September to narrow it down.” Last year’s event screened 45 feature and about 65 short films. The goal is to have at least 100, and in recent years, that hasn’t proved problematic. In fact, many of the movies are making their world premieres here.
“We love to find the voices of tomorrow, that new talent with his or her first film.” says Farmer. “Some of the filmmakers are veterans, but many are brand new; they’ll be names you hear about in five to 10 years.”
The festival’s best success so far has been with Evgeny Afineevsky, who showed his film “Oy Vey! My Son is Gay” at Out On Film in 2009. This year, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary for his “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.”
And movie-goers don’t just get to watch the films: There are plenty of opportunities to meet and greet the creative talents during the week. Getting filmmakers to participate has also gotten easier, says Farmer.
“In 2013, we got a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the group behind the Oscars) to promote our filmmakers series, and that got us national recognition,” says Farmer. “The growth of the Atlanta film industry has also brought more filmmakers into the area. We’ve made an impact by bringing filmmakers here who show their films, have a great experience and decide to make their next film here. They’re actually moving here from L.A. Never in a million years did I think I’d see that happen!”
Along with showcase voices and stories of the LGBT community, Out On Film offers a unique opportunity for film-lovers of all persuasions to come together. “These days you can watch a movie…anywhere, but at these events, you can watch a movie, hang out with the filmmaker, learn about the process and come together with other people from the LGBT community,” says Farmer. “Even though a lot of progress has been made, it’s still not comfortable for many people to be out. Here, they can see movies collectively and share the experience.”
Must See Movies…
Highlights of the 29th Out On Film festival include these sure-fire hits:
“Strike a Pose” Six gay and one straight male dancers appeared with Madonna on stage and in the film
“Truth or Dare.” This movie, made 25 years later, tells the story of their behind-the-scenes struggles and personal challenges.
“Fair Haven” Gregory Harrison and Tom Wopat start in a story about a young man’s coming home after gay conversion therapy, only to be faced with an emotionally distant father and memories of a past, loving relationship he tries to forget.
“First Girl I Loved” A sensation at Sundance, this film centers on 17-year-old Anne and her new love, Sasha. Among the many hurdles they face as high schoolers is the guy who has a crush on Anna and is determined to change her mind.
OUT ON FILM
September 29 – October 6
Midtown Art Cinema
931 Monroe Drive, 30308
Individual tickets are $11; a festival pass is $160; the “three films for $30” pass is the most popular. Parties, special events and receptions are held at various locations.
STORY: H.M. Cauley
PHOTO: Scott Reeves