Hollywood may be the film and television capital of the world, but anyone with any 21st-century savvy knows that those twin pillars of pop culture are not the only game in town. Ask any millennial– or, better yet, any millennial’s kids – and they will tell you that these days, the coolest entertainment happens on the internet.
That’s why Revry, the premiere queer global streaming network, will present the third annual Out Web Fest (OWF) on May 18 – 20, right in the heart of West Hollywood. The first queer web festival celebrating the best in independent LGBTQ digital storytelling, Out Web Fest is a three-day festival that celebrates the cultural significance of this revolutionary intersection of medium and storytelling, offering opportunities for international and local digital content creators, producers and fans to connect with each other and introducing them to new and inclusive programming.
The festival kicks off on Friday, May 18 with an opening night at YouTube Space LA (12422 Bluff Creek Dr.), featuring the West Coast premiere of the acclaimed HBO documentary film, “Believer” – directed by Don Argott, produced by Live Nation Productions and starring Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds.
The film offers an intimate portrait of Reynolds – who was raised in the Mormon Church and remains a devout member – as he confronts his own faith to take a public stand for LGBTQ rights. As a straight man, Reynolds was never directly touched by anti-LBGT bias until his marriage to non-Mormon singer Aja Volkman; when her close friends, a lesbian couple, expressed dismay over the Mormons’ 2008 campaign against the legalization of gay marriage, his mind was opened. The film follows him through the process of self-education, culminating with his joining of gay Mormon singer Tyler Glenn of the band Neon Trees to stage the LoveLoud music festival, a music and spoken-word festival designed to spark dialogue between the church and members of the LGBTQ+ community .
Drawing praise from critics and LGBT advocates after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, “Believer” was promptly acquired by HBO; it will air on that network beginning June 25.
Before the screening, Out Web Fest will celebrate its annual Revry Visibility Awards, honoring those persons and/or organizations that participate in evolving society’s perspectives on LGBTQ issues. LoveLoud, the non-profit organization born of Reynolds and Glenn’s music festival as shown in the film, will be one of this year’s recipients, for bringing unconditional love and support to out LGBTQ+ friends and families. Having publicly expressed his concern for the rising suicide rate in LGBTQ+ youth, Reynolds founded the LoveLoud Foundation in 2017 to bring awareness to the growing crisis. Its mission is to bring communities and families together to help ignite the vital conversation of what it means to unconditionally love LGBTQ+ youth.
Also honored will be YouTube icon Ingrid Nilsen, for her profound impact in LGBTQ advocacy. A lifestyle expert and online video personality, she has amassed over seven million followers across all her social channels. Since coming out on her YouTube channel, Ingrid has become a voice for strong, independent young women. She was named a Change Ambassador to the UN focusing on the global fight for gender equality and regularly speaks out on advancing the awareness of the tampon tax. She was also featured in the 2016 OUT 100 list.
The main festival, which takes place at the London West Hollywood Hotel (1020 N San Vicente Blvd.), takes place over the following two days; with screenings of exciting new online content, as well as panel discussions with several powerhouse figures in the online production world.
Saturday’s screenings will include short films from directors such as Maxime Potherat and Jules Thénier, Erin Good, Roberto Nascimento, Anthonia Onyejekwe, Gopal Shivakoti , and Shwenn Shunya Chang. There will also be a summer preview of some of Revry’s best web series, including “Barbelle,” “Septo,” and world premieres of “Queens of Kings” (Season 3), “3030” (Season 2), “RosaBaby,” “Putting On” and “Room To Grow – The Series.”
On Sunday, the screenings include music videos from the likes of Chris Jacobx, Alsace Carcione, Ysa Yaneza, Cazwell (ft. Peppermint), Big Dipper, INA, Dark Pink Stars, Davis Mallory, Matt Palmer and Megan Vice. Also featured will be comedy content from Tim Manley, Madeleine Dyer, Joel Ashton McCarthy, Elsie Bollinger and Sally Bollinger, CJ Arellano, Charmaine Bingwa and Reece Jones, Ness, Jean-Pierre Chapoteau, Kate Jessop and Aiden Peters.
Panels will take place on both days, featuring Shira Lazar, Lorenzo Thione, Max Epperson, On Mekahel, Jade Hillard and Jon Brence.
Saturdays panels are “Buffer Festival LA” (4-4:45 p.m.) and “StartOut” (5:15-6 p.m.).
On Sunday the topics will be “How to Create a Successful Podcast” (4-4:45 p.m.) and “Creating Content for Music” (5:15-6 p.m.).
OWF’s most exciting event for aspiring content creators, however, will probably be the Powerhouse Industry Pitchfest. This will offer the rare opportunity to pitch stories to a variety of industry executives from the most influential digital production companies today.
The prestigious list for Saturday includes luminaries such as Emily Best (Seed&Spark), Angela Nikas (Entertainment One), Matt Sims (The Sims Group), Madison Kern (Blue Fever), Dennis Dortch (Black & Sexy), Brian Graden and Ben Jehoshua (Brian Graden Media) and Chris Michael (Funny Or Die).
On Sunday, creators will have the chance to share their ideas with Laura Fischer (Powderkeg Media), David Person (IFC), Aimee Helfand (FamiLeague), Brent Trotter and Paris McCoy (Anti-Villan Media), John Halbach (Queerty) and Kate Grady (Adaptive Studios), among others.
If you are – or want to be – a producer or a creator of queer-inclusive online content, or even if you’re simply a fan, Out Web Fest is the place to be next weekend.
For tickets and full program information, go to outwebfest.com. Note that tickets for the Pitchfest are limited and separate from the festival passes.