As I write this message, I haven’t slept for more than 32 hours and I’ve just been working nonstop to finalize the lineup and get contents done for the Festival program. This is roughly the same two weeks every year for the last 14 years when I question myself: “Why do you keep doing this to yourself again?” But I look at the roster of films that I just booked and suddenly, I feel the excitement starting to build up already. Then I am reminded why I love doing what I do.
We have 75 great films from 22 countries that we cannot wait to share with all of you. I am amazed how filmmakers from all over the world keep finding LGBTQ stories and themes that have never been told on the screen before, and at the same time, find new and creative ways to express familiar ones.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the most courageous program I’ve ever put together. For one, all of our gala screenings have death or loss as major themes. The Festival starts off with one of my favorite lesbian-themed films in the lineup, Heartland where Lauren moves back with her mom in rural Oklahoma while still mourning the death of her girlfriend. In Other People, David goes back home to Sacramento to care for her dying mother Joanne played by Molly Shannon. Expect to hear more about this film since Shannon is an Oscar-hopeful in the Supporting Actress category. Both of these films would not have been Opening Night selections if they were simply depressing. They are equally as funny and uplifting as they are poignant.
Taking our Narrative Centerpiece spot this year is the British road trip dramedy Burn Burn Burn starring Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith of TV’s Downton Abbey) traveling with her lesbian best friend to scatter the ashes of a third friend all over the UK.
So many people have been asking about the documentary Strike A Pose featuring Madonna’s former male backup dancers from her Blond Ambition Tour. You’ll be happy to know that we are highlighting it as our Documentary Centerpiece.
Perhaps the sexiest films in the Festival, Lazy Eye, about two reuniting hunky former lovers, and Summertime, about two beautiful liberal women facing small-mindedness in rural France, are our Spotlight Features.
Do not be misled by our Closing Night title Pushing Dead which is actually a quirky dark-ish comedy with something important to say. It stars familiar faces like James Roday, Danny Glover, Khandi Alexander, and Robin Weigert. It’s a must-see considering that it has limited festival participation right now.
I’d also like to think of this year’s programming as ballsy not only because we don’t shy away from films with darker themes (Demimonde from Hungary) but also because there’s a lot more
non-porn male frontal nudity in the lineup.
It’s a welcome trend, if you ask me.
Speaking of nudity, the ImageOut There! films this year are a fine combination of sex and young love. They are not to be missed.
So many films to talk about and recommend but too little space in this message. But as loyal ImageOut patrons and supporters, you know that if they are in our lineup then they must be good. So don’t be afraid to venture into films and genres that you would typically avoid. Don’t you trust me by now?
And remember, everything at ImageOut is a labor of love. Thanks to all our volunteers and member donors!
Have a great Festival and see you all in the dark!
Chair, Programming Committee