“Our Son” / Publicity photo

Out On Film Opening Weekend Preview

Quotes have been edited for clarity.

The 36th annual Out On Film festival, Atlanta’s LGBTQ film festival and the number one film festival in the country as voted by readers of USA Today and 10Best, kicks off its diverse lineup of local and international films on Thursday, September 21.

Opening weekend starts at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema with the Southeastern premiere of “Our Son. In sort of a gay “Kramer vs. Kramer,” a divorcing gay couple played by Emmy winner Billy Porter and Luke Evans fight over the custody of their eight-year-old son.

“We wanted to make a movie that depicted something we hadn’t seen before in a drama, which is two men raising a child going through a divorce and figuring out their relationship for the sake of the child,” director and co-writer Bill Oliver told Georgia Voice. “With the right to marry comes the right to divorce, and we were curious what that would mean for a gay couple. We wanted to evolve the depiction of gay relationships in mainstream movies beyond coming out stories and falling in love stories and tragic stories. [We wanted t]o show that the end of a love story is just as important and beautiful as the beginning of a love story.”

The movie is a beautiful and intimate portrait of fatherhood, loss, and change — and the intimacy of the film extended beyond the screen.

“I wanted [the film] to feel very real, very lived in,” Oliver said. “It’s a movie about a family, and I wanted the crew and the whole feeling of the shoot to feel that way too.”

The film is emotionally difficult to watch at times, with moments of conflict and grief searingly played by both Evans and Porter. In order to allow the space for this kind of vulnerability, emotional scenes were filmed handheld with minimal crew in the room.

“There were definitely tears after certain scenes and group hugs,” Oliver said. “All of the emotional scenes were hard on all of us emotionally watching it and for [the actors] experiencing it.”

While “Our Son” is sure to bring tears to your eyes, the emotional weight of the film culminates in a heartwarming message of love.

“We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t about suffering, that it was about hope and optimism,” Oliver said. “It’s a tearjerker, it’s sad, but it ends on a note of hope. It’s a celebration of the power of friendship and community and reconciliation.”

Opening night of the festival closes out at 9:30pm with Elephant, a Polish rendition of Brokeback Mountain. Bartek runs a small horse farm in the mountains in Poland after becoming head of the family when his father left and his mother fell apart. One day their neighbor dies, and his son Dawid comes back to the village for a funeral. Bartek becomes fascinated by Dawid and his carefree attitude. First love will force him to decide if he’s ready to choose his freedom over his family.

Other feature-length highlights of opening weekend include “Cora Bora,” about a failed musician who returns to her hometown to win back her ex-girlfriend; “F.L.Y.,” a comedy about two exes who get stuck in quarantine together; “All the Colours of the World are Between Black and White,” a Nigerian drama about navigating sexuality; “Silver Haze,” a gritty drama about seeking revenge; “Big Boys,” a coming-of-age film about developing a crush on your sister’s boyfriend; the world premiere of “A Big Gay Hairy Hit! Where the Bears Are,” a documentary about how three older gay bears working in Hollywood began to self-produce their own web series; “Chasing Chasing Amy,” a documentary exploring the unexamined legacy of the cult classic Chasing Amy; “Studio One Forever,” a documentary covering the iconic titular disco; and “The Mattachine Family,” which follows a couple as they navigate the fallout of losing their foster son.

For fans of short films, you can also expect a set of international films, comedy shorts, and trans and female-centered films opening weekend.

For the full schedule and to buy tickets, visit outonfilm.org.