Each previous summer, Outfest has screened more than 200 feature and short films from around the world to an audience of more than 50,000 people in venues throughout Los Angeles. This year’s program is being promoted as “Out Where You Are” in recognition of the current difficulty of having so many people gather together in person. “The Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival

was born out of an era of advocacy, understanding that the only way we would ever see ourselves reflected three-dimensionally in entertainment was if we found a way for storytellers to find visibility,” according to organizers. “As the channels, audiences, and the marginalization and acceptance of our community shifts, so shall we.” Due to delays caused by the ever-fluid response to

the COVID-19 pandemic, the final festival schedule won’t be announced until Wednesday, August 5. Visit for up-to-date information, including the final selection of films. One movie rumored to be making its world pre-

miere during the fest is Cured, which was previewed in advance. This eye-opening documentary is directed by Bennett Singer (Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin) and Patrick Sammon (Codebreaker), and was co-produced by Outfest’s former Executive

Kinsey asserting that homosexuality was not a mental illness. As depicted in Cured via vintage film footage as well as more recent interviews with participants and witnesses, several pioneers in the gay-rights movement saw it essential to take on the APA. This was especially true in the wake of the Stonewall Riots. As lesbian activist Barbara Gittings recognized, “Nothing would ever change as long as we were burdened with the ‘sickness’ label.” Gittings was joined by Mattachine Society head Frank Kameny, GLAAD co-founder Ron Gold and others in storming the APA’s annual meetings and demanding dialogue on the subject of homosexuality. Despite the vociferous opposition of Dr. Charles

Socarides, who remained anti-gay even after his son came out to him, this dialogue led within a few years to the repeal of homosexuality in the DSMR. Ironi- cally, Cured reveals that the current head of the APA, Dr. Saul Levin, is openly gay. The documentary serves as a strong, timely testament to the power of persistence and righteous anger to affect change. A delightfully different, narrative movie that will

also reportedly be an official selection at the fest is Dramarama. This semi-autobiographical dramedy by Jonathan Wysocki is set in Escondido at the end

Dancy, and the terrific performances given by its talented, fresh-faced cast. Two other noteworthy films, also previewed, are

rumored to be screened during Outfest but were unconfirmed as of press time: Dry Wind and No Hard Feelings. “Hybrid” is a good term to describe the storytelling and/or characters in these features. Dry Wind incorporates hardcore pornography in its narrative at times, while the lead character in No Hard Feelings is often conflicted between his Iranian ethnicity and German citizenship. Dry Wind, from Brazil, weaves a sensual tale

from its Speedo-filled opening minutes to a climactic threesome. Sandro (a bold performance by Leandro Faria Lelo) is a middle-aged gay man drawn to two younger co-workers at the fertilizer plant where he works. He is also drawn to numerous fetishes including leather, motorcycles, piercings, sportswear and tattoos. Talented writer-director Daniel Nolasco references both Tom of Finland and Alfred Hitchcock in this vibrant, voyeuristic drama that features abundant full-frontal nudity and explicit gay sex. No Hard Feelings focuses on Parvis (played by the charismatic Benny Radjaipour), a young gay man born to Iranian refugees in Hanover, Germany. After


Director Christopher Racster. It illuminates a pivotal yet largely unknown chapter in the struggle for LGBTQ equality: the years-long campaign that led the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to finally remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1973. Homosexuality was listed in the APA’s first edition

of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMR) in 1952, based on limited studies of people institutionalized in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. This was subsequently used to enforce laws against LGBTQ relations, and generations of U.S. schoolchildren were taught that being LGBTQ was a sickness. Most psychiatrists turned a blind eye to important studies by Sigmund Freud and Alfred

of summer, 1994. Five longtime friends and recent high school grads gather for an overnight Victorian murder-mystery party before heading their separate ways to college. The fact that all of them were involved in theatre together adds a hilariously over-the-top element to the proceedings. Among this group of three girls and two boys is the closeted Gene, who is questioning not only his sexuality but his faith. He is attracted to his best friend, Oscar, as well as a local pizza delivery guy. Tensions, sexual and otherwise, bubble up throughout the friends’ final night together. Dramarama is well worth seeing for Wysocki’s smart script, abundant references to early-90’s pop culture, a fun Danny Elfman-esque music score by Chanda

getting in some legal trouble, Parvis is assigned to complete community service hours at a local center for migrants. There he meets handsome, closeted Amon and his sister, who are both from Iran. Parvis and Amon slowly grow close to each other and embark on a genuinely sexy, ultimately tender relationship despite the threat of deportation that hangs over Amon and his sister. Faraz Shariat’s admirably complex film is also a colorful, music-filled celebration of Iranian culture. There will no doubt be many more can’t-miss

LGBTQ films shown during Outfest 2020, so be sure to participate from wherever you are! August 2020 | @theragemonthly 11

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