June 13, 2018 at 1:24 pm PDT | by John Paul King
Outfest, the LGBT film festival, is coming to a screen near you

Alejandra Lara and Silvia Varón in ‘Eva & Candela’. (Photo Courtesy of Outfest)

Queer film fans, get ready!  Outfest – the Los Angeles-based non-profit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBTQ stories on the screen – has announced the complete lineup for its annual Los Angeles Film Festival.  Outfest 2018, presented by HBO, will be the 36th annual edition of the nation’s leading LGBTQ festival and takes place July 12-22.

Founded by UCLA students in 1982, the festival builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 35,000 LGBT films and videos.

The festival – featuring eleven days of world-class films, panels and parties – opens with a gala at the Orpheum Theatre (842 S Broadway, Los Angeles) featuring Kino Lorber’s “Studio 54,” Matt Tyrnauer’s vibrantly nostalgic documentary about the iconic and infamous Manhattan nightclub; its closing night gala, taking place at The Theatre at Ace Hotel (929 S Broadway, Los Angeles) will highlight “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” Desiree Akhavan’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner starring Chloë Grace Moretz.

Two-thirds of this year’s content is directed by women, people of color and trans filmmakers.

Christopher Racster, Outfest executive director, is proud of the way Outfest Los Angeles continues to “step onto a larger stage.”

He says, “This year, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences named Outfest as an Academy-Award qualifying film festival for their Short Film Awards. This recognition acknowledges our long history of discovering extraordinary short films, and the talented filmmakers who have used Outfest as a platform to launch their careers.”

The festival features five world premieres: the deeply-felt “Bao Bao”, from Taiwan; “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” directed by Michael Urie with a hilarious performance from Drew Droege; Laura Madalinski’s polyamorous romance, “Two in the Bush: A Love Story”; Jamie Patterson’s “Tucked,” about two drag performers connecting across generations; and “Room to Grow” a documentary looking at the lives of queer teenagers today. There are also the American and U.S. Premieres of “Eva & Candela,” “Sodom,” “Canary,” “Cola De Mono” and “Daddy Issues.”

Outfest Los Angeles’ documentary section shines a light on unsung communities, including Alina Skrzesewska’s “Game Girls” (following a couple as they struggle to navigate life in Los Angeles’ Skid Row), and SXSW Audience Award winner “Transmilitary” (spotlighting those fighting for an equal chance to service their country.

Platinum, the proactive experimental film section, continues to highlight boundary-pushing work, such as “No Leash” (a short film by Myyki Blanco and SSION, and “Narcissister, Organ Player” (a feature documentary by performance artist Narcissister).

In addition to these, this year’s Outfest is also launching its first ever dedicated episodic section.  Lucy Mukerjee, Outfest director of programming, says, “Outfest Los Angeles is marking the shift in the way that society tells and consumes stories, by launching our first dedicated episodic section. With 221 films and 13 TV series, this festival’s lineup is bursting at the seams with the most anticipated queer and trans stories of the year.”

Besides the opening and closing galas, Outfest will also offer several other special events.  These will include the 2nd Annual Trans Summit, with director and producer Yance Ford as the keynote speaker; the Focus On Taiwan event showcasing films such as “Bao Bao” and “Alifu, The Prince/ss”; free screenings of “Believer” (a documentary from Imagine Dragons frontman, Dan Reynolds), “They” (a family drama from director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh), and Showtime’s “Beyond The Opposite Sex” (a sequel to the groundbreaking film, “The Opposite Sex”).

The infamous Alchemy Party returns, this year at Navel (1611 S Hope St., Los Angeles), with 13 performers including Dorian Electra, Saturn Rising and Slather Factory’s Bebe Huxley, and The Uhuruverse who will stretch your musical imagination.

Finally, there is OutSet: The Young Filmmakers Project from Los Angeles LGBT Center and Outfest, which will premiere five new shorts on Sunday, July 22.  Now in its sixth year, the OutSet program empowers youth ages 16-24 to share their stories though film.

Outfest will also be adding new venues for its programming this year, including Plaza de la Raza (3540 N Mission Rd., Los Angeles), the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater (8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills), the California African American Museum (600 State Dr., Los Angeles) and Regal Cinemas at LA Live (1000 W Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles).  According to Racster, “Providing access to content remains at the heart of what we do as an organization. This year we have worked to ensure that all of our community — and our allies — can access our programming. With that in mind, this year’s festival will be in more of Los Angeles neighborhoods than ever before.”

Outfest will also be returning to the newly-renovated Ford Theatres (2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E, Los Angeles).  These screenings will kick off on July 18 with a screening of “Bad Reputation,” a documentary about Joan Jett; then documentary centerpiece, “When the Beat Drops,” followed by “Postcards from London” and concluding with “Wild Nights with Emily” featuring Molly Shannon.

As always, Outfest will feature far too many films for anyone to see them all – many screenings are concurrent with each other and the programming is nearly continuous for the entire 11 days of the festival – so film enthusiasts will have to pick and choose the titles and events they most wish to see.  A complete listing of all the festival’s offerings is available at outfest.org/fest2018/sections, so you can plan your cinematic itinerary in advance.

It’s worth mentioning that Outfest members receive benefits such as free tickets, priority entrance to screenings, and all-access passes.  In addition, tickets go on sale to members beginning Thursday, June 14 – four days before they are available to the general public – and the money goes to support the festival’s ongoing mission, so becoming a member won’t just benefit yourself.

General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning Monday, June 18.  Special ticket packages are also available.  Contact the box office for membership, tickets and event information by calling 213-480-7065 or by visiting here.

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