Films to watch at the upcoming OUTFEST 2019 (July 18-28)

By Oliver Carnay

Outfest 2019 starts from July 18 through 28 — eleven days of not-to-be-missed world-class films, parties, and panel discussions! Here are some of the films you have to watch out:

As previously announced, the 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival opens at the Orpheum Theatre on Thursday, July 18, with Circus of Books, Rachel Mason’s vibrant documentary about LA’s iconic brick-and-mortar gay erotica emporium and bookstore, and closes on Sunday, July 28, at The Theater at the Ace Hotel with Sundance favorite Before You Know It, a poignant family comedy from Hannah Pearl Utt (who also co-wrote and stars), featuring Outfest alum Judith Light alongside Alec Baldwin and Mandy Patinkin.
With films from 33 countries and in 26 languages, and more than two-thirds of this year’s content directed by women, people of color and trans filmmakers, Outfest Los Angeles continues to be a trailblazer for multicultural LGBTQ representation in the media.
The festival will feature 28 world premieres across features, short films and special events, including Rodrigo Bellott’s Tu Me Manques, inspired by his smash-hit play from Bolivia; Elegance Bratton’s documentary Pier Kids, which follows the queer and trans POC youth who gather at New York City’s Christopher Street pier, in the tradition of Paris Is Burning and “Pose”; Megan Rossman’s The Archivettes, a profile of New York’s Lesbian Herstory Archives; and Molly Hewitt’s rollicking Holy Trinity, a John Waters–style absurdist comedy featuring the cream of Chicago’s queer artist community.
International and North American premieres include Graham Kolbeins’ Queer Japan, a doc profiling the myriad personalities across that country’s LGBTQ community; Kai Kreuser’s Label Me, about the power struggle in a relationship between a Syrian refugee and a German man; and Australian filmmaker Samuel Van Grinsven’s Sequin in a Blue Room, about a teenager on a dangerous quest to find the stranger with whom he had a memorable encounter.
Outfest Los Angeles will feature a number of exciting festival favorites with talent expected to attend, including Martha Stephens’ Sundance hit To the Stars, featuring Malin Åkerman, Tony Hale, and Adelaide Clemens; SXSW award-winners Saint Frances and The Garden Left Behind; Teddy Award winners at the Berlinale Brief Story from the Green Planet and A Dog Barking at the Moon; feminist vampire thriller Bit, starring Nicole Maines of “Supergirl”; and romantic comedy Sell By, starring Scott Evans, Kate Walsh, Augustus Prew and Patricia Clarkson.
Previously announced Centerpiece screenings include Sundance favorites Adam, directed by Rhys Ernst, and Hari Sama’s This is Not Berlin, as well as the doc Changing the Game, and the hilarious rom-com Straight Up, written, directed by and starring James Sweeney, and co-starring Katie Findlay, Tracie Thoms (Rent), Randall Park (Always Be My Maybe) and Betsy Brandt (“Breaking Bad”).
Outfest Los Angeles’ Platinum program will showcase films from the bold innovators of LGBTQ experimental cinema and will world premiere multi-media artist Trulee Hall’s Lezzies’ Mime Mènage, and the Anjelica Huston narrated documentary, Steven Arnold: Heavenly Bodies, about the spectacularly surreal world of Salvador Dali’s protégé, Steven Arnold, and his creative and influential body of work.  Audiences will celebrate these cutting-edge creators’ work at the hotly-anticipated Alchemy Party, with live musical performances headlined by former M.I.A. drummer, electronic music artist, and activist Madame Gandhi and pop music songwriting sensation turned queer electro artist, Jesse Saint John.
The 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival will also return to the Ford Theatre for its Outfest Under the Stars screenings, featuring hot festival titles and live performances. These screenings will kick off on Wednesday, July 24, with the documentary Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts, preceded by a live performance by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” favorite Trixie Mattel; Thursday the 25th at the Ford will present comedian and legendary LGBTQ ally Kathy Griffin introduce her concert film Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story with a pre-show conversation; Friday the 26th brings Tribeca Film Festival audience award winner Gay Chorus Deep South, about the tour by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus through Southern red states to bring a message of love, inclusion, and acceptance to areas affected by anti-LGBTQ legislation; and the final Ford night on Saturday, July 26, will feature a screening of Showtime’s documentary Sid & Judy, about Judy Garland’s career as seen through the eyes of her third husband, Sid Luft.

Special Events and hot tickets at Outfest Los Angeles will include:
The 3rd Annual Trans Summit with keynote speaker Angelica Ross (FX’s “Pose”).
“Crazy Queer Asians” panel on the future of Asian LGBTQ representation in media, including discussion from Ian Alexander (Netlfix’s “The OA”), Sherry Cola (Freeform’s “Good Trouble”), Nik Dodani (Netflix’s “Atypical”, CBS’s “Murphy Brown”), and Jake Choi (“The Sun is Also a Star”).
Ham: A Musical Memoir, the world premiere of a dazzling filmed performance of renowned musician and actor Sam Harris’ award-winning, one-man musical, preceded by a live performance by Harris.
Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, a sneak preview of the documentary in which Mark Patton (the first male scream queen) gathers cast and crew from the 1985 A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge to reevaluate its legacy and queer aesthetic. Patton, Robert Englund and additional cast from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 will attend.
A 30th anniversary screening of Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied, hosted in partnership with AFI, where the film originally premiered in 1989.
Queering The Script, a doc on queer female representation in television with a post-film discussion including Angelica Ross (“Pose”), Amber Benson (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), and Isabella Gomez (“One Day at a Time”).
The Los Angeles premiere of Kino Lorber’s restoration of The Queen, Frank Simon’s 1967 documentary about the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant, featuring legends Flawless Sabrina and Crystal Labeija.
An advance look at Marc Cherry’s upcoming CBS All Access series “Why Women Kill,”, starring Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, with cast in attendance.

A 30th Anniversary restoration screening of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Academy Award–winning documentary Common Threads, held at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater and attended by Epstein and Friedman, with sections of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt on view for ticketholders.

A panel discussion highlighting the filmmaking opportunities in Taiwan, a country that recently became the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriages.
Lastly, Outfest Forward, the organization’s year-round program committed to educating and mentoring creatives, shares highlights from the Outfest Screenwriting Lab, including a live reading from a scene from each of the five selected scripts, and OutSet: The Young Filmmakers Project from Los Angeles LGBT Center and Outfest, premiering five new shorts. Now in its seventh year, the OutSet program empowers youth ages 16-24 to share their stories though film.
The 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival will move its festival hub to the historic TCL Chinese Theater and its Platinum series to The Museum of Contemporary Art. The festival continues its commitment to venues around the city with screenings at the John Anson Ford Theater, Laemmle Music Hall, Harmony Gold Theatre, Plaza de la Raza, the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, and American Film Institute. The Opening Night Gala Circus of Books kicks off the festival at the Orpheum Theatre, and the Closing Night Gala Before You Know It will screen at The Theatre at Ace Hotel.
Tickets and Information
For more information and for a complete listing of films in 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, log on to www.outfest,org or call 213-480-7065, Monday-Friday, 10:00am-6:00pm.
Outfest members receive benefits such as free tickets, priority entrance to screenings or all-access passes. Tickets go on sale to members beginning June 20. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning June 24. Contact the Box Office for membership, tickets and event information by calling 213-480-7065 or visit www.outfest,org. Special ticket packages are also available.
The 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival is proudly presented by HBO, a partnership that has spanned over 20 years. Grand Sponsor is AT&T. Automotive Sponsor is Hyundai. Premiere Sponsors include Clear Channel Outdoor, Comcast NBCUniversal, Directors Guild of America, Showtime, and Variety.