Out On Film celebrates its 30th year this fall, and organizers have drawn up a unique slate of over 120 feature films, documentaries, short films and web series to mark the occasion. The event is super-sized this year, going from eight days of programming last year to 11 this year and expanding locations by adding Out Front Theatre Company and the Plaza Theatre to the festival’s longtime home, the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.
“This is an exceptional, wide-ranging year for LGBT cinema,” said Out On Film festival director Jim Farmer in a news release first issued to Georgia Voice. “This is, by far, our biggest festival to date in terms of the number of films we are showing, the most diverse slate we’ve ever presented and the most venues. We are excited to share our programming.”
The festival opens on Thursday, Sept. 28 with “Happy,” a documentary starring Augusta, Georgia native (and former Atlantan) Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman, a visual artist who, after battling grief and depression following the death of his partner, uses art to find his way out of the darkness and inspire others with his “Happy campaign.”
“We looked long and hard for the perfect opening night and we found it in our backyard,” said Farmer. “Leonard’s story is inspirational and heart-warming. With all the negativity and uncertainty in the world now, the feel-good aesthetic of the film is a perfect tonic.” Star Leonard Zimmerman and director Michael Patrick McKinley will be present at the screening.
Closing out the festival on Sunday, Oct. 8 is Tribeca Film Festival favorite “Saturday Church,” in which a 14-year-old boy struggling with gender identity and religion starts using fantasy to escape life in the inner city. Star Luka Kain will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.
Other highlights include “After Louie” with Alan Cumming and Zachary Booth; Audra McDonald, Martha Plimpton, Cheyenne Jackson and T.R. Knight in the musical “Hello Again;” Trudie Styler’s “Freak Show” with Bette Midler, Laverne Cox and Abigail Breslin; the Sundance smash “God’s Own Country;” the romantic comedy “Signature Move;” documentaries “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall,” “The Fabulous Allan Carr” and “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.”
Director Jeffrey Schwarz (“Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story,” “Vito,” “I Am Divine,” “Tab Hunter Confidential”) will be on hand to accept the festival’s Icon Award and take part in a Q&A after the Oct. 1 screening of “The Fabulous Allan Carr.”
Special events on tap include, on Oct. 1, “Three Decades of Queer Atlanta – The American Music Show,” curated by Matthew Terrell and exploring the legacy of the groundbreaking ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s Atlanta cable TV show for alternative artists that gave the world the first peek at RuPaul among many others. And on Oct. 7, in celebration of the 60th birthday of the late director Marlon Riggs, Out On Film will screen his last film, “Black Is … Black Ain’t.”