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