Outfest executive director Christopher Racster has certainly been a busy man in the past few years, steering the Los Angeles film festival to a coveted festival position on par with the LA Film Festival or the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
That’s a serious achievement for a niche film festival that can be attributed to Racster’s firmly held belief that LGBTQ+ is a “community of communities,” as he likes to say. As a result, the festival displays an extraordinary diversity.
His devotion to Outfest is, in a sense, part of his “pay it forward” approach to life. He was given a chance and is working hard to share the experience.
Racster, whose films “April’s Shower,” “Say Uncle,” “Save Me,” and “Spork” screened in years past at Outfest Los Angeles has “seen firsthand the multiple levels of influence this organization can have and that motivates me tremendously,” Racster told the Los Angeles Blade.
“As a first-time filmmaker at 30 years old, I found a script and a director I was excited to work with and we made our first film, ‘April Showers.’ Outfest really championed it. My predecessor, Kirsten Schaffer and David Courier, who was a festival programmer, pulled it out of the pile and put it in the Ford Amphitheater, screened it before 1,200 people and we wound up with a worldwide distribution deal. This festival is fundamental to my career as a filmmaker and I probably would never have had the opportunity to make a second film if Outfest had not been such an incredible champion of my first,” he said.
Racster and Outfest have become a critical force in a city that is almost universally dedicated to showbiz, filmmaking in particular.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out since I was 21. And I think the hardest person to tell was my mom, even though she was brilliantly accepting.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
That’s a really tough question, because it changes. I mean it really changes. It changes as the community confronts new challenges.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
Being curled up in my own bed. And I don’t mean that sexually. Nothing makes me happier than getting to bed early.
Describe your dream wedding.
I don’t dream about a wedding but I love being able to be legally married. I just don’t feel I need the trappings of a big, formal ceremony. That does not validate my relationship.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
The election of Donald Trump.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Probably some geeky sci-fi thing, like the first Star Wars movie. Mine’s definitely a movie.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A post about Outfest’s continued dedication to and support of women filmmakers and female-identified filmmakers and their stories.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“He Went To Bed Early”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would campaign against it.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe there are things beyond the physical world that we have not yet evolved an understanding of and I am OK with that.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Seek unity. LGBT is a community of communities and I believe our leaders have to put unity at the forefront and be allies to one another.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
That perfect cup of coffee!
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The trans sex worker. And I have a problem that our community shames the sissy depictions, they/we exist. No shaming.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Maurice.” Hands down and no question. And the re-mastering is brilliant.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Social media has become socially required. Posting is overrated.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Interesting. I don’t covet any of them. I don’t look back because the creative process is the prize and that’s what makes me happiest.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That my coming out process would be easy. It was. I was blessed. It wasn’t easy for me internally but, unlike lots of people, I didn’t pay the price I had expected.
Why Los Angeles?
I wanted to get out of Ohio, a great place to come from if you are in the blue areas and even though Columbus is a great place to be gay. But I love LA.