What Should You See at Out On Film?

By Jim Farmer

When the 32nd annual Out On Film Atlanta LGBTQ film festival opens this week, it does so with 126 films, web series and short films. With so many LGBTQ films to choose from, what should one see? Here are suggestions.

For starters, the opening night film “For They Know Not What They Do” is a must. A powerful documentary from Daniel Karslake, the director of “For the Bible Tells Me So,” it looks at how four LGBTQ children of religious families are able to reconcile with their parents vs. the backdrop of traditional church teachings.  It’s incredibly moving and a hopeful, inspiring work, with the director and some subjects of the film present.  

For fans of “Noah’s Arc,” the sexy “From Zero to I Love You” should really resonate.  It reunites Doug Spearman – who directs – with Darryl Stephens, who plays Pete Logsdon, a guy in Philadelphia who has a long past of getting involved with married men. Lo and behold, Pete does it again – this time with a man named Jack who has been married 15 years and has two young children.  Spearman will be in attendance for the screening.

Judith Light heads up a cast that includes Alec Baldwin and Mandy Patinkin in the Sundance charmer “Before You Know It.” In it, a lesbian has to focus more on taking care of her family – including a sister and niece – and her community theater than her personal life. It’s a charming comedy drama with one of the season’s sharpest ensembles.

 “Sell By” stars Scott Evans – Chris Evans’ very talented and openly gay brother – as well as Kate Walsh and a dandy cast in a tale of New Yorkers exploring their various relationships – some new, some going on for some time.

What happens when you don’t really know your parents?  That’s the case in “Circus of Books,” about a nice Jewish couple in Los Angeles – Karen and Barry Mason – who own a gay bookstore without their children initially knowing and eventually become LGBT allies. The documentary includes interviews with porn icon Jeff Stryker and the screening will include a Skype interview with the Mason family.

“Cubby” is a quirky comedy about a young and immature gay man who moves to New York from the Midwest and wind up befriending a precocious six year old and an adult Leather Man, while the sexy and naughty “Cousins” finds a teenager staying with his aunt one summer and getting a visit from a very distant cousin. E. Patrick Johnson’s wonderful “Making Sweet Tea,” about returning to the South, has a lot of Atlanta subjects.

“The Shiny Shrimps” is a comedy about an Olympic champion approaching the end of his career. When he makes a public homophobic comment on television, he is punished by being made to coach an amateur gay water-polo team. The team may be goofy and underachieving but they are united in their desire to qualify for the Gay Games in Croatia.  

This year’s Peach-sponsored film is “All Male All Nude: Johnsons.” It’s a follow-up to director Gerald McCullouch’s 2017 “All Male All Nude,” which looked at the world-famous Swinging Richard strip club in Atlanta.  “Johnsons” examines the career of Matt Colunga, a former Atlanta dancer who has now founded a club in Florida. 

Looking for some thrills and chuckle? You’ll find with the second annual Horror Night. First up is Natalie Maines of “Supergirl” in “Bit,” about a young woman who falls in with a group of four queer feminist vampires. Next up is “Last Ferry,” in which a gay lawyer comes to Fire Island for a get-away only to realize he has arrived too early – and accidentally witnesses a murder. Horror short films will follow, some quite scary.

Perhaps the funniest film of the festival is James Sweeney’s “Straight Up.” In it, Sweeney stars as a young man – thinking he may not be gay after all – who decides to start dating a woman.  The smart film has some dialogue you might be quoting for a while.

The whole line-up is available at outonfilm.org

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