Pride month may be over, but Outfest Los Angeles is very much ready to keep its spirit alive this month of July. The annual LGBTQ film festival has, as always, curated a program that showcases the wild variety of the queer experience. Indeed, for the second year in a row, more than two-thirds of Outfest Los Angeles’ content is directed by women, people of color, and trans filmmakers. “The festival is about the extraordinary, diverse, adventurous, and politically engaged work from more than 240 filmmakers who have the courage and confidence to share their visions with us,” said Christopher Racster, executive director, and Mike Dougherty, director of festival programming.
With films from all over the globe, the 2019 roster will offer LA audiences the chance to see some of the best LGBTQ cinema coming out of Latin America, as well as some of the most exciting queer U.S. Latino work being produced. This is particularly the case in the Episodic and Shorts selections that tell stories of Dominican teenagers in the Bronx, indigenous young men living in the Amazon, and budding lesbians who love going to Church. They also feature work from both established (Lizette Barrera) and up-and-coming (Kayden Phoenix) Chicana directors.
If you’re looking for recommendations on what feature films to catch, look no further than these 11, which cover everything from the perils of so-called gay conversion therapy in the U.S. and Guatemala to leather competitions in Brazil. Take a look at them below.
Outfest Los Angeles runs July 18-28, 2019.
Esto no es Berlín
As Mexico anticipates the 1986 World Cup, 17-year-old Carlos is less interested in soccer and more interested in listening to his record collection and admiring Rita, the older sister of his best friend, Gera. Carlos and Gera’s suburban, juvenile monotony is interrupted when Rita’s goth band introduces them to an underground nightclub, the Azteca. The teens are instantly seduced by the Azteca’s regulars and their exhilarating world of performance art, sexual fluidity, and prescription drugs. Carlos and Gera’s friendship is tested as the two explore new identities and face the consequences of adult decisions. Infused with a post-punk soundtrack and brimming with enchanting performances from a promising young cast, Esto no es Berlín delivers an energetic portrait of a clandestine sanctuary propelled by youth fleeing the societal repression of their time.
Fin de siglo
An Argentine man from New York (played by Juan Barberini) and a Spanish man from Berlin (played by Ramón Pujol) hook up by chance while in Barcelona. What seems like a one-night encounter between two strangers, becomes an epic, decades-spanning relationship. Argentine director Lucio Castro depicts their relationship in a nonlinear fashion, and in which time and space refuse to play by the rules. Castro’s inventive and enigmatic feature debut is consistently surprising, turning a love story into a cosmic voyage with no clear beginning or end.
In Guatemala City, the very ground the city is built on is fragile and unreliable for its people. It shakes and destroys at will, often with catastrophic results. Under these circumstances, Guatemalans hold strongly onto their faith; it’s the only stable thing they have ever known. Pablo is no different, a good Catholic man who has visited church all his life and is faithful to his wife Isa and their two beautiful children. But when he meets Francisco, he immediately falls for him, which is a sin in the eyes of his church and his family. As Pablo battles his own internalized homophobia, he has to deal with his surroundings’ disgust at this discovery, too: he loses his job, the right to see his children, and the support of his community. Encouraged by Isa and their Pastor, he starts attending conversion therapy, and soon enough, everything seems to be going back to normal — that is, until the ground starts trembling again.
For They Know Not What They Do
When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality across the nation in 2015, many assumed that the fight for LGBTQ rights was won. But politicians and religious conservatives launched a state-by-state campaign to retract the human rights of America’s LGBTQ citizens under the guise of religious freedom. Introducing four American families caught in the crosshairs of scripture, sexuality, and identity, this documentary weaves together footage from the national news and the church pulpit with family photos and intimate testimonies to show the undeniable connection between the personal and the political. Among these is Vico Báez Febo, whose Catholic grandmother locked him out of their house in Puerto Rico when a neighbor outed him, and who later reconnected with his parents after coming out to them when he moved to Miami. An emotionally impactful follow-up to the award-winning For The Bible Tells Me So, this powerful examination of the intersection of religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity offers much-needed healing, clarity, and understanding.
Las hijas del fuego
An adventurous polyamorous couple decides to take an impromptu road trip through the Patagonian countryside, inviting every queer woman in their path to come along. When they finally have a van full of ladies of every shape, size, and color, they stop to have an orgy of explosively seismic proportions. Founder of Asterisco, Argentina’s International LGBTQ Festival, Albertina Carri has created an incredible tale of lesbian eroticism intended to topple the patriarchy with its visuals and its sensibility.
The Garden Left Behind
Tina (Carlie Guevara), a 30-year-old transgender woman, and Eliana (Miriam Cruz), her grandmother, have been struggling to make a life for themselves in New York since emigrating from Mexico when Tina was only six. Tina’s father abandoned them before she was born and her mother died in prison shortly after they arrived in America. Eliana was left alone to raise her grandchild, both as undocumented immigrants, whose dreams of home are markedly different — Eliana longs to return to Mexico, while Tina desires acceptance in America. The ineffable bond formed between the two formidable women has made them not only each other’s stalwart support in a hostile world, but a potential millstone as well.
Tu me manques
Starring Argentine actor Oscar Martinez and Spanish actress (and Pedro Almodóvar muse) Rossy de Palma, Tu Me Manques is an emotional exploration of three men’s struggles to reconcile identity and heritage. Following his son Gabriel’s death, Jorge travels from conservative Bolivia to New York City to confront Gabriel’s boyfriend Sebastian. While the two battle over Jorge’s inability to accept his son, Sebastian channels his grief into a bold new play in honor of his lost love, in which Gabriel’s inner turmoil is transformed into an eye-popping gay fantasia. Directed by Rodrigo Bellot, the film in itself is an adaptation of his own stage play, a sensation in his native Bolivia.
Read Remezcla’s review.
Daniel Nolasco’s sexy and modern film interposes live re-enactments of enticing Tom of Finland illustrations — known for their deliciously homoerotic takes on leathermen and men in uniform — with the lives of the five men vying for the title of Mr. Leather Brazil 2018. As we are taken into an introspective view of the leather gear in their closets, these men suit up for the opportunity to share their love for leather and fetish and to educate the queer community of São Paolo about this often underappreciated subculture.
Breve encuentro del planeta verde
In director Santiago Loza’s Teddy Award winner, young trans woman Tania (Romina Escobar) is tasked with caring for her recently deceased grandmother’s closest companion — an alien, whom she and her comrades must safely return to its origins. As the group makes the journey on foot through rural Argentina, Tania finds herself supernaturally linked with her extraterrestrial charge, confronting past trauma that manifests as remorseful childhood bullies and as past lovers with new commitments. Each traveler overcomes their fears and heartbreak on this tender, epic journey.
Queering the Script
Gabrielle Zilkha’s latest film gathers a dynamite roster of fans, creators, and actors for an incisive discussion of the inspiring, yet often troubled, history of queer female representation on television. Galvanized by the upsetting trend of stereotyping, neglecting, or outright killing-off of TV’s beloved queer characters, Zilkha’s subjects beautifully articulate their frustrations and their ideas for better, more accurate, and more inclusive visibility. Queering the Script features interviews with Gloria Calderon Kellett (One Day at a Time), Tanya Saracho (Vida), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and more.
José is a 19-year-old who lives with his mother in Guatemala, one of the world’s most dangerous, religious, and impoverished countries. He spends his days on crowded buses and delivering food on the streets. Resigned to his fate, he plays with his cellphone during free time, goes on dating apps, and hooks up in street corners. When he meets Luis, he is thrust into a dimension of passion, pain, and self-reflection.