Pride Month’s parades and parties may be over, but Outfest Los Angeles is keeping queer artistic excellence front and center this summer with an impressive array of narrative features, documentaries and shorts.
Now in its 40th year, the film festival kicks off July 14 with the world premiere of “Anything’s Possible,” Billy Porter’s coming-of-age comedy. Julianne Moore and director Todd Haynes will drop by July 17 for a celebratory screening of their seminal film “Far From Heaven.” The 11-day event closes with John Logan’s “They/Them,” which stars Kevin Bacon as a counselor at a conversion therapy camp whose teen attendees are being stalked by a masked killer.
But starry screenings are just a fragment of Outfest’s lineup. The 2022 roster is a showcase for international talent, with 42 world premieres representing 29 countries set to screen at various locations across Los Angeles.
“One of the things we wanted to do is really show the widespread diversity of the queer experience, beyond the coming-out story,” Outfest’s artistic director Faridah Gbadamosi told HuffPost. “Sometimes at larger festivals, well-meaning as they are, they screen very specific queer films that [portray] very specific queer experiences. We’re a filmmaker-forward fest that’s about creating spaces for artists to share their truest visions for an audience who wants to hear their stories. Our existence can’t be a quota.”
Watch a clip honoring the 40th anniversary of Outfest Los Angeles, with appearances by Elliot Page, John Waters and more.
For the past two years, COVID-19 forced Outfest organizers to present much of the festival’s content virtually. Though in-person events have resumed in full, out-of-town viewers will continue to be able to stream much of this year’s programming.
According to Outfest’s executive director, Damien S. Navarro, the shift toward virtual content allows the festival to better “reflect the larger national conversation” as opposed to catering to the interests of queer Angelenos.
“When we look at what’s happening in Texas, Florida and other areas of the country, there’s just an incredible opportunity for us to have a voice and build empathy within those communities that are, in many cases, reacting negatively to their neighbor,” he said.
When asked about this year’s highlights, Gbadamosi notes the Brazilian drama “Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter,” which debuted to great acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. She’s also excited for audiences to catch a July 23 legacy screening of Silas Howard’s trans-inclusive buddy comedy “By Hook or By Crook,” 21 years after its Outfest premiere.
Navarro’s favorites include “Breaking the Ice,” an Austrian romance between two players on a women’s hockey team, and the Mexican drama “Dos Estaciones,” which follows the matriarch proprietor of a once-thriving tequila distillery as she fights to keep her company alive amid natural disasters, multinational corporations and other threats.
Of course, Gbadamosi and Navarro are aware that Outfest is taking place just weeks after the Supreme Court ended its term with a host of ultra-conservative rulings, sparking justifiable fears among many Americans that LGBTQ rights will soon be rolled back at the federal level.
When working on the 2022 lineup, the pair said they worked closely with Mike Dougherty, Outfest’s director of festival programming, to ensure they were “centering our existence, rather than the harm that’s being done to us” in the political sphere.
“There’s an assumption that the only way we can engage with the negativity around us is to prove that we deserve to exist, but we deserve to exist point-blank,” Gbadamosi said. “So we’re looking at the ways in which we can showcase our existence for us, rather than center voices that ― to be honest ― are going to keep being hateful no matter what we do.”
Outfest Los Angeles will run July 14-24.