LIGHTS, CAM­ERA, OUTFLIX

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - GO SEE - By John Bei­fuss

When the Mem­phis Gay and Les­bian Com­mu­nity Cen­ter this week changed its name to Out­mem­phis,there­brand­ing­was­some­thing of a trib­ute to the suc­cess of what is prob­a­bly the cen­ter’s most high-pro­file event.

“Part of our choos­ing ‘Out­mem­phis’ was be­cause we have a long his­tory with Outflix,” said ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Will Batts, re­fer­ring to the Outflix Film Fes­ti­val, an annual cel­e­bra­tion of cinema with LGBTQ — les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and queer — con­tent.

Outflix be­gins its 19th vet­er­ans will no­tice that’s year Wed­nes­day with five a drop from re­cent years: days of pro­gram­ming at The 2015 fes­ti­val hosted the Malco Ridge­way Cin52 films, while 39 films ema Grill. screened in 2014.

A fundraiser for OUTThe ex­pla­na­tion is Mem­phis, Outflix this twofold. A fundraiser for year will screen 32 films, Out­mem­phis (“The LGin­clud­ing 12 nar­ra­tive BTQ Cen­ter of the Mid­fea­tures, six doc­u­menSouth” pro­vides ser­vices tary fea­tures and 14 to about 10,000 peo­ple shorts. At­ten­tive Outflix an­nu­ally), the fes­ti­val The Aus­tralian mur­der mys­tery “Down­river” screens Thurs­day at the Outflix Film Fes­ti­val.

for some time has lasted an en­tire week; how­ever, this year’s event runs five days, with most of the screen­ings tak­ing place at the end of the fes­ti­val, Sept. 9-11.

In the past, the fes­ti­val be­gan on the week­end and then con­tin­ued through the fol­low­ing Thurs­day, even though at­ten­dance

on some week­days — Mon­days es­pe­cially — was spotty.

Also con­tribut­ing to the ab­bre­vi­ated sched­ule is the de­par­ture of fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Jef­frey S. Har­wood, who has been ac­tive with Outflix since 2008. Har­wood and his 25-mem­ber screen­ing com­mit­tee watched close

to 400 sub­mit­ted films this year; even so, Har­wood wasn’t able to de­vote as much time to the fes­ti­val as usual be­cause he re­cently left town to be­gin stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Cincin­nati Col­legeCon­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic.

Har­wood said the Outflix ex­pe­ri­ence has been un­usu­ally sat­is­fy­ing. “Outflix is one of the best ed­u­ca­tional tools we have for the Mem­phis metro area to learn about the LGBTQ com­mu­nity,” he said. “If you want to know who we are, come and sit down and watch our films.”

“Com­mu­nity,” i n the Outflix con­text, is a broad term: Aus­tralia, Ar­gentina, In­dia, Thai­land, France, the Nether­lands, the United King­dom and, of course, the U.S. are rep­re­sented at this year’s fes­ti­val.

And the di­ver­sity is more than ge­o­graphic (or eth­nic or even sex­ual). Style and story con­tent also are all over the map, from fan­tasies in­volv­ing lit­eral magic to gritty street-level doc­u­men­taries to his­tor­i­cal pe­riod pieces.

“The rea­son we do this is be­cause there aren’t enough LGBTQ im­ages in com­mer­cial the­aters,” Batts said. “There are cer­tainly more im­ages on TV, be­cause there’s such a glut of shows now, but on the big screen, it’s hard to find our­selves, and es­pe­cially to find sto­ries that are about our­selves that are told by our­selves.

“A com­ing-out story from Brook­lyn can be very dif­fer­ent from a com­ing-out story from Bangladesh,” he con­tin­ued.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WOLFE RE­LEAS­ING

“Girls Lost,” from Swe­den, is the open­ing-night movie Wed­nes­day dur­ing the Outflix Film Fes­ti­val.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF HAP­PEN­ING FILMS

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