The Outfest Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival begins again in March this year with a whole new crop of films made by or about gays and lesbians. The festival runs from March 14-16, 2014 at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles, California.
Here are a few of the standouts we’ve seen from the schedule of screenings over the run of the festival.
LE RETOUR aka THE RETURN (Directed By Yohann Kouam)
This 20 minute french film looks right up my alley. The visuals look beautiful and the film features masculine young men not depicted merely as urban caricatures. On top of all that, they’re speaking french.
“It’s been a year since his big brother left, and Willy, 15, can’t wait for him to return. Willy thought he knew everything about Theo, but when he arrives back in the housing project, Willy discovers a secret about him.”
Reading between the lines, this means that the older brother is a regular masculine dude who doesn’t fit into gay stereotypes. This not only makes it hard to believe that he’s gay, it crushes the perception that the boy and his friends have about homosexuality. The story seems to take a typical gay tale not from the point of view of the closeted gay man afraid to “come out” but from the perspective of a younger brother who discovers that the elder sibling he idolizes is actually gay.
Raise your hand if you can relate to that. *Nick raises both hands*
Synopsis: Set in France, this beautiful coming-of-age story depicts an adolescent who stumbles upon the truth about his beloved older brother, then attempts to return to the life he once knew.
BLACKBIRD (Directed By Patrik-Ian Polk)
So we go from a fresh take on black gay acceptance in France…then we come all the way back to America for more of the same old regurgitated gay shit we’ve seen repeatedly.
Director Patrik-Ian Polk continues to be the most prolific black gay filmmaker that we have. From the film “Punks” to the “Noah’s Arc” series and movie to the feature film “The Skinny”, Polk has consistently released great looking projects with great looking casts. But they’re all the same shit. Patrik-Ian Polk may be playing a new game, but he’s dealing with the same old deck of cards.
Admittedly, we’re not huge fans of the content he creates, but we applaud him for continuing to create overly melodramatic stories representing the struggles of attractive effeminate black gay men in America.
Synopsis: A high school senior named Randy (Newcomer Julian Walker) and his band of queer friends fight for a life outside the constrictions of their small Southern town in Blackbird, a powerful film co-starring Academy Award winner Mo’nique (Precious) and Gotham Award nominee Isaiah Washington (Blue Caprice). Black, white, straight, gay and all things in between, these friends discover firsthand both the rewards and consequences of growing up as outsiders. The film reminds us that being a teenager is always hard, even when life tells you being young should be carefree and easy. Its ensemble of young actors make an impact, as do Mo’nique and Washington as Randy’s conflicted parents.
GAY LATINO LA: COMING OF AGE (Directed By Jonathan Menendez)
This documentary looks very interesting. It’s rare that we have a look into the American Latino Gay scene outside of homo-thug representations in erotic adult films. Unfortunately, based on this trailer, I get the sense that the lives of Latino gay men are not at all that different than the lives of stereotypical Caucasian gay men.
Synopsis: In Los Angeles, a city where dreams are born (and sometimes achieved), three young men come of age as gay Latinos. From different backgrounds, each struggles with family issues, cultural expectations and religious beliefs. Brian, a Salvadoran educated at Berkeley, covets a better world for him and others, but lacks the self-confidence to take action. Alex, born in Mexico, desires a better life and an education, but his dreams are compromised by being undocumented. Carlos, a Chicano homeboy, is caught in a self-destructive lifestyle that numbs the loneliness and pain of feeling unable to come out to his family. Director Jonathan Menendez takes us on a gripping journey as the three young men deal with the realities of being gay and Latino in L.A. Despite their internal conflicts with religion, dealing with family abandonment in a culture of hyper-masculinity, they find self-acceptance and care as they come of age in the City of Angels.
KUHANI (Directed By Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine)
Many of you may recognize director Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine from his acting role as a cook on the New Orleans based HBO show Treme. His film Kuhani touches on the homophobia that gays living in African countries like his native homeland Uganda face. In 2011, he raised $6,000 over his $4,000 goal on Kickstarter for the short film.
Synopsis: A Missionary Position is a narrative short art film shot over 2 years in more than a half dozen countries. It is a creative response to the rampant homophobia that has gripped Uganda. In the film Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine plays the role of a Ugandan priest, loosely inspired by the true story of a Ugandan Bishop who was ex-communicated from the Anglican Church for supporting gay rights.
BOUNTY (Director Finbarr Wilbrink)
I had no idea what the fuck these Dutch people are saying in this trailer but I was still able to piece together what the story was about from the visuals, which is a good thing.
I gathered that the film is about a black kid being raised by a white lesbian couple. He seems to be teased by his friends for not being black enough once they discover that his biological father is a thug gangster rapper so they try to make “less white” by thugging him up. Sigh.
I get it, lighthearted comedy about a biracial kid with identity issues. Why do I feel annoyed? This seems full of stereotypes and the exploitation of black people for the sake of comedy, even in the Netherlands of all places.
HECTOR: LOST SOULS WITH SWITCHBLADES (Directed By Jeff Compton)
While this Latino short film is mainly about lesbians, I really wanted to include it on the list to strike home the point made on the website (yet again) that black gay filmmakers lack originality or imagination. The creativity displayed here is simple yet engaging. Take a typical story and put a creative new twist to it.
Synopsis: A hot and reckless Latino Boi drowning his sorrows over the woman he loves finds himself in a bar brawl that has spilled out to the streets of East L.A.