ABOVE: A scene from “When the Beat Drops,” the festival’s opening-night film, screening Sept. 27.
Atlanta’s 31st LGBT film festival screens 128 features,
documentaries, shorts and more at 3 venues
over 11 days
IN WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY, Molly Shannon delivers a surprisingly upbeat take on 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson.
In The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett plays Irish poet-playwright Oscar Wilde in his twilight years, a role for which he’s received early raves.
Matt Smith, best known as the BBC’s 11th “Dr. Who” and “The Crown’s” Prince Philip, has the title role in Mapplethorpe, embodying the famous — some would say infamous — New York City photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989 at age 42 of AIDS-related complications.
The biopics are among the highlights of the 31st annual Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBT film festival, running Sept. 27-Oct. 7.
The event screens 128 films in 11 days at one of three locations — Midtown Art Cinema, Out Front Theatre Company in West Midtown and the Plaza Theatre in Poncey-Highland. About 50 films are full-length narrative features or documentaries. The rest are short films and Web series (grouped into 16 programs).
The event expanded from eight to 11 days last year and attracted 10,000 moviegoers, according to fest director Jim Farmer. The year’s films speak to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience in 25 countries, including Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, the U.K. and, of course, the United States.
The lineup includes a starry staged reading of The Laramie Project, about the 1998 gay-bashing death of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard (7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company). It features Atlanta-based TV, stage and film actors Amy Acker, Steve Coulter, Randy Havens, Jessica Meisel, Rosemary Newcott and Tara Ochs. All proceeds benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of his murder. Details, tickets HERE.
The festival’s opening film, When the Beat Drops, has a strong Atlanta connection, Farmer says. The 87-minute documentary details “bucking,” a term for athletic dancing created in the American South by gay African-American men who were banned from cheerleading or being major/majorettes because of homophobia.
Atlanta native Anthony Davis, who’s in the documentary, helped grow the dance form into a nationwide program that now includes an annual competition in Atlanta. Davis, actor-choreographer-director Jamal Sims, producer Jordan Finnegan, and other cast and crew members will attend the screening.
Also worth checking out:
- Lez Bomb, with Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern and Steve Guttenberg, about a closeted young woman played by Jenna Laurenzo, who wrote and directed (Sept. 28, Landmark).
- 1985, with Cory Michael Smith as a closeted gay man coming home for Christmas. Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis play the parents (Sept. 29, Landmark).
- Studio 54, a 90-minute documentary about the legendary New York City disco, a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (Sept. 29, Landmark).
- Ideal Home, with Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan as a bickering gay couple shaken by the 10-year-old on their doorstep (Oct. 6, Plaza).
In the festival’s first two decades, Farmer says, the lineup was dominated by coming-out stories. “And while those are still here and always relevant, we’re dealing with so many other things.”
Several films address transgender issues: The 93-minute documentary TransMilitary (winner of the 2018 audience award at the SXSW film festival) looks at 15,500 transgender individuals in the U.S. military (Oct. 6, Out Front); Man Made follows four men in a bodybuilding competition (Oct. 3, Landmark).
The fest holds its first horror night (Oct. 5, Out Front), with a late-night program of shorts preceded by the feature films What Keeps You Alive, about a lesbian couple’s not-so-cheery anniversary getaway, and Devil’s Path, in which two men meet on a gay-cruising park trail.
Pick up the free 78-page Out on Film guidebook at the screening venues and throughout Midtown. It includes the full schedule and information on every film. Details and festival passes ($175 + $200); three-packs ($30); and single tickets ($11 per screening) available HERE. Daily updates also on Out on Film’s Facebook page HERE.