Outflix Film Festival celebrates 14th year

The 2011 Outflix Film Festival, hosted at Malco’s Ridgeway Four Theatre in Memphis, begins Friday, Sept. 9 and ends Thursday, Sept. 15. This is the 14th year of Memphis’ annual showcase of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themed movies.

The schedule of films is as follows:

Hollywood to Dollywood
Friday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.

Opening this year’s Outflix Film Festival is Hollywood to Dollywood. When all else failed, identical twin brothers Gary and Larry Lane set off from Dolly Parton’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame heading east for Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in their RV, aptly named “Jolene.” The two grew up listening to Dolly's music and always thought she was an amazing person. So why not write a screenplay about her, and go on a cross country road trip to try to put it in her hands! This is a film of their cross-country adventure. The film includes 15 of Dolly’s songs.

Leave it on the Floor
Friday, Sept. 9, 9 p.m.

Leave it on the Floor tells the story of Brad, who is 22 years old, gay and African-American, and who has just been thrown out of his home. Like so many others, he finds himself living on the mean streets of Los Angeles. One night Brad stumbles onto a dance club populated by a ragtag assortment of strays, like himself.  But what Brad has stumbled on is actually one of 14 ball communities in LA. Leave it on the Floor updates the Jennie Livingston documentary Paris is Burning, which first shed light on the underground ball sub-cultural 20 years ago and which influenced Madonna’s classic hit “Vogue.” This film examines this constantly morphing subculture. The film was shot in Los Angeles with eye-popping visuals; the score is an impressive mix of hip-hop, techno and house, and features breakout performances by a cast of unknowns who act and sing and dance. In addition, it features a song by Beyonce, and a surprise performance by the amazing artist Ledisi.

I Am: When Being One’s Self is Enough
Saturday, Sept. 10, 1:30 p.m.

"I started making I Am in 2005,” Indian lesbian filmmaker Sonali Gulati explained. “My personal experience of leading a closeted life and my inability to come out to my mother before she died, serves as not only the motivation, but also the starting point for the film. As I began to come out to some of my friends, I noticed that this was not as muted, or invisible, or shameful a subject as I had perceived it to be. I managed to connect with a community of people who were out to their parents, some of whom were even very accepting and understanding. As a departure from my own story, I Am became a portrait of various Indian families, living in India, dealing with having a gay or lesbian family member.”
T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2:45 p.m.

The 1920s saw a revolution in technology - the advent of the recording industry. And those recordings led to the first generation of African-American women to sing their way to fame and fortune. T’ Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s chronicles Blues divas, such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Alberta Hunter, who created and promoted a working-class vision of blues life that provided an alternative to the Victorian gentility of middle-class manners. In their lives and music, Blues women presented themselves as strong, independent women who lived hard lives and were unapologetic about their unconventional choices in clothes, recreational activities, and bed partners. Blues singers disseminated a Black feminism that celebrated emotional resilience and sexual pleasure, no matter the source.
Saturday, Sept. 10, 3:30 p.m.

This 1980s-themed comedy chronicles the risqué and frisky adventures of Kevin, a good ol’ straight boy who finds creative ways to indulge in some quality “male bonding” with his fellow peers. When he meets the openly gay Cesar, deeper emotions are triggered, causing a chain of events sure to set the Texas hill country ablaze with sexual hi-jinks!

Saturday, Sept. 10, 6:30 p.m.

Set in contemporary Iran in the unseen world of Iranian youth culture, filled with underground parties, sex, drugs and defiance, Circumstance is the story of two vivacious young girls -- wealthy Atafeh and orphaned Shireen. The two girls, like 16 year-old girls anywhere, are discovering their burgeoning sexuality and struggling with their desires and the boundaries placed upon them by the world they were born into.
Going Down in La La Land
Saturday, Sept. 10, 8:30 p.m.

Based on Andy Zeffer’s novel, Going Down in La La Land, tells the story of young, ambitious, and handsome Adam who arrives from New York with dreams of making it big in Los Angeles. After an insufferable job answering phones, Adam finds a job in production, but soon finds himself caught in a vortex of down and out directors, washed up starlets, and meth addicts in the underworld of gay porn and prostitution.

We Were Here
Sunday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m.

Filmmakers David Weissman and Bill Weber co-directed the 2001 documentary, The Cockettes, chronicling San Francisco’s legendary theater troupe of hippies and drag queens, 1969 – 1972.  We Were Here revisits San Francisco a decade later, as its flourishing gay community is hit with an unimaginable disaster. We Were Here is the first documentary to take a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. It explores how the city’s inhabitants were affected by, and how they responded to, that calamitous epidemic.

Loose Cannons
Sunday, Sept. 11, 2:45 p.m.

This Italian film tells us about Tommaso, the youngest son of the Cantones, a traditional Italian family. On a trip home from Rome, where he lives with his boyfriend, Tommaso decides to tell his parents the truth about himself. But when he's ready to come out, his older brother ruins his plans.

The Night Watch
Sunday, Sept 11, 5:30 p.m.
“Set against the backdrop of a London recovering from the devastating effects of the Second World War, The Night Watch is a tale of lost young Londoners, whose lives are inextricably linked via their wartime experiences. Kay roams the streets haunted by a great loss in her past, while Helen and Viv, who run a marriage bureau together, face their own relationship dilemmas. Helen obsessively clings to her tempestuous affair with the beautiful Julia as Viv finds herself unable to break free from her married lover. The sexual freedom and independence they enjoyed in wartime is curtailed once more as they are returned to the margins of society, but as each woman strives towards a more hopeful future, they must first come to terms with their actions in the past.” – BBC’s Emma Smart

The Wise Kids
Sunday, Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m.

This dynamic Southern coming-of-age drama set in and around a Charleston, S.C., baptist church. The Wise Kids examines the lives of Brea, an introspective pastor's daughter experiencing debilitating doubt; Laura, Brea's hyperactive best friend and a devout believer, and Tim, the open-hearted son of a single father, confronting his homosexuality for the first time. Tensions and buried feelings abound, as colleges are chosen and adults behave badly. Yet the trio of friends attempt to hang onto what they have, all the while yearning to break free.

Wish Me Away
Monday, Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m.

This feature-length documentary takes a personal and intimate look at Chely Wright, the first country music star to come out as gay. After a lifetime of hiding, she shatters cultural and religious stereotypes within Nashville, her conservative heartland family, and most importantly, herself. Using interviews with Chely, her family, key players in Nashville and her management team, the film goes deep into Chely’s back story as an established country music star and then forward in verite scenes as she prepares to step into the media glare to reveal that she is gay. Finally, the film chronicles the aftermath of that decision in Nashville, her hometown, and within the LGBT community.

Judas Kiss
Monday, Sept. 12, 8:30 p.m.

Judas Kiss, is an offbeat contemporary drama set on a college campus alive with magical realism — a place where you can grab a second chance at your future. Film festival judge Zachary Wellsʼ handsome one night stand turns out to be a student competing for a scholarship Zach must award. Mysteriously, Danny Reyesʼ entry has the same title as Zach's film that won the festival years before. Zach, his own career in shambles, sees Danny making the same mistakes he did. He decides to take matters into his own hands. As Zach scrambles for answers, a mysterious, chain-smoking campus tour guide counsels him: “Change the kidʼs past, change your future.”

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6:30 p.m.

Daphne, a dramatic interpretation of author Daphne Du Maurier's life is based on letters and on biographies that examine her forbidden love affairs with high-society figure Ellen Doubleday and the actress Gertrude Lawrence. It's a story that can rival anything Du Maurier ever invented and one that will transport viewers back to an era that was as sensuous as it was repressed.

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 8:30 p.m.

Twenty-year-old Lukas is right in the midst of male puberty - medically triggered – for he was in fact born a girl. Full of the zest for life, he enters big-city life but even upon arrival encounters a major screw up: recruited for his community service he is the only male quartered in the female nurses’ residential hall. What would be a dream for any other boy is acute, everyday stress for Lukas. Romeos dares to give a most unusual insight into the subject of transgender; it humorously and cheekily sets out to do away with conventional thought on such roles. It is a film about love, friendship and a quite remarkable sexual awakening.

Christopher and His Kind
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 6:30 p.m.
Take a glimpse into 1930s Berlin in Christopher and His Kind.  The 'divinely decadent' Berlin cabaret scene is in full swing when a young and wide-eyed Christopher Isherwood arrives in the city to stay with his close friend and occasional lover, the poet W. H. Auden. To Isherwood's reserved English sensibility, the city's thriving gay subculture is thrilling and intoxicating. But he soon finds himself heartbroken after the failure of a hopeless love affair, and so sets out on a process of self-discovery as he forges an identity and place for himself amidst the chaos of 1930s Berlin.

Eating Out 4: Drama Camp
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 8:30 p.m.

Touting a diverse ensemble of characters, Eating Out 4: Drama Camp is an over-the-top raunchy gay comedy with the innocence of summer love.

Paragraph 175
Thursday, Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m.

Weimar Germany was a homosexual Eden in the 1920s: gay and lesbian nightclubs and magazines flourished, the first homosexual-rights movement was born - and then the Nazis came to power. Paragraph 175, narrated by Rupert Everett, chronicles the lives of several gay men and one lesbian who were persecuted by the Nazis. The gay men were arrested by the Nazis for the crime of homosexuality under Paragraph 175, the sodomy provision of the German penal code, dating back to 1871. In 2000, fewer than ten of these men were known to be living. Five come forward in the documentary to tell their stories for the first time, considered to be among the last untold stories of the Third Reich.

Gun Hill Road
Thursday, Sept. 15, 8:30 p.m.

Concluding the 2011 Outflix Film Festival is Gun Hill Road. After three years in prison, Enrique returns home to the Bronx to find the world he knew has changed. His wife, Angelas struggles to hide an emotional affair, and his teenage son, Michael, explores a sexual transformation well beyond Enrique's grasp and understanding. Unable to accept his child, Enrique clings to his masculine ideals while Angela attempts to hold the family together by protecting Michael. Still under the watchful eye of his parole officer, Enrique must become the father he needs to be or, once again, risk losing his family and freedom.  Can a father’s fierce love for his family overcome his street-hardened ideas about manhood and end the vicious cycle controlling his life?

For more information and tickets, including discounts, go online to www.outflixfestival.org. Prices range from $9 for one ticket to $75 for an All Festival Pass.

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