Last night I laced up my Jeffries and sauntered into the 2014 Outfest Fusion Launch Party. Outfest Fusion is the only film festival devoted to celebrating queer filmmakers of color. Now in it’s 11th year, Outfest Fusion provides a safe and supportive space for LGBTQ filmmakers of color to showcase their work—and they throw a great party. Altruism and festivity is a satisfying and delicious combination, don’t you think? Sort of like peanut butter and chocolate.
Outfest Fusion kicks off next Friday, March 14 and runs through Sunday, March 16. Here’s a quick preview of what to check out at Outfest Fusion.
Friday, March 14
Blackbird: The crown jewel of Outfest Fusion’s proverbial tiara is Blackbird, starring Academy award winner Monique, Isaiah Washington, and Julian Walker. Isaiah Washington is presumably working off his debt to gay society after being infamously and unceremoniously fired from Grey’s Anatomy after calling co-star/homosexual T.R. Knight “faggot” twice during an on set argument in 2007. Hollywood then proceeded to teach Isaiah Washington a very important lesson: Don’t hate on the homos, because we will blacklist you. I’m thrilled to see Isaiah rehabilitated and hustling for our side. Homophobia, unlike homosexuality, can and should be “cured.”
Directed by Patrik-Ian Polk (Noah’s Arc), Blackbird follows “A high school senior named Randy (Julian Walker) and his band of queer friends fight for a life outside the constrictions of their small Southern town in Blackbird… Black, white, straight, gay and all things in between, these friends discover firsthand both the rewards and consequences of growing up as outsiders. The film reminds us that being a teenager is always hard, even when life tells you being young should be carefree and easy.”
What It Was: What It Was is the only female-driven film premiering on Outfest Fusion’s opening night. An emotionally decadent entry, What It Was revolves around Adina, “a successful Latina actress, who returns to New York in the aftermath of the death of her sister and the collapse of her marriage. Unable to face her mother, she finds herself in a fog, drifting through her days. Memories dissolve into the present as she tumbles through a series of intense, complex connections with a sexy, butch body artist, a young college student, and a former girlfriend.” Sounds amazing and sexy, no? I’m getting tickets now and so should you.
Sh*ts and Giggles: Everyone’s favorite marginally crude saying comes to life in Sh*ts and Giggles, a multimedia showcase of this year’s funniest gay shorts. Shorts as in short films, not the half pants you wear during summer. Described as “satiric” and “sexy,” the collection aims to squelch stereotypes and solve queer dilemmas. The only lesbian inclusion in the Sh*ts and Giggles collection is One-Night Stand, a six-minute short (Daisy Duke short?) about “Two women on a comic collision course—a bride-to-be and a sexy biker with a bad habit—learn after their one-night stand that, sometimes, you wind up with more than you bargained for.” Sound like the most fun two women can have in six minutes! Other than sex with men. Boom.
Saturday, March 15
Fight The Power: Fight The Power is a shorts series composed of five phenomenal films from around the world, focusing on activists who fight for gay rights in the face of violent homophobia as well as structural and personal abuse. Here’s a title list with descriptions for the female driven entries: Al-Basir, City of Damned, Fighting for Air (a young Australian Muslim girl has a secret passion—an all-female fight club), Al-Nisa (groundbreaking slice-of-life portrait of Atlanta’s Black Muslim lesbians uncovers a hidden world within the city known as America’s Black mecca), Ghost Syndrome (Moroccan lesbian seeks comfort between two cultures in a film drawing from the music video tradition that reminds us that even silence has its song), Eyes That Do Not See (for a young Latina lesbian, turning 15 means having a quinceañera party), and Kuhani.
No I.D. Required: No I.D. Required is a series of shorts focusing on racial and sexual identity during childhood and adolescence. Here’s a title list with descriptions for female driven entries: Pui (A short and sweet glimpse into the life of a little girl forced to live within the confines of her mother’s idea of femininity), Le Retour, Big Time (depicted through the diary entries of a young Indian girl, this short explores what really lies beneath her relationship with her best friend), You’re Dead to Me (A mother comes to terms with her choice to turn her back on her trans-daughter), Puppy Dreams (a socially outcast tomboy is forced to come out of her shell and face the world when she is stricken with mono), and Bounty.
Pink Is The New Black: “The only thing lesbains love more than OITNB is pink,” thought no lesbian ever, and this series of shorts celebrates girls who like girls. Here’s a title list: Hector: Lost Souls with Switchblades (a hot and reckless Latino Boi drowning his sorrows over the woman he loves finds himself in a bar brawl that has spilled out to the streets of East L.A.), Dyke Central: Taboo (game night at Dyke Central quickly turns to fight night when a group of Bay Area lesbians let their hair down and uncork buried secrets), Secrets and Toys (in a whimsical romp about the balance of familial expectations and sexual liberation, secrets are exposed and identities are revealed in the last places you’d ever expect), Hero Mars (Hero Mars struggles to confront blatant ignorance and hostility in the pursuit of a successful acting career), For Her (grad student Grace hopes to stifle her sexual attraction to her hot yoga-loving neighbor by sleeping with men, but she quickly discovers that life’s biggest lessons are often learned outside the classroom).
Secrets and Toys
Sunday, March 16
Tribute to Rev. Bobbie Jean Baker Featuring The Believers: Directed by Todd Holland, this film is build around the world’s first transgender gospel choir, and that choir’s “dilemma of how to reconcile their gender identity with the widespread belief that changing one’s gender goes against the word of God.”
Outset Shorts: Outset is a young filmmakers project that empowers and educates LGBTQ youths to tell their own stories through film. Sixteen fellows between 16-24 created five short films during a three-month filmmaking lab mentored by Outfest Alumni Filmakers. This year’s titles include Gay Over, My Mother’s Orphan, Calavera, Cafe Au Lait, and Gideon’s Cross.
If you’d like to attend any of these films and/or attend one of Outfest Fusion’s fabulous parties, mosey on over to Outfest Fusion and grab a ticket. I hope to see some AE readers there!