Coming Out(Fest)

Outfest 2019: Teen cam romances, Brazilian leather men, psychic dominatrix, trans athletes

Changing the Game

Festival season continues with the annual opening of the queerstravaganza known as Outfest Los Angeles. This year marks the 37th festival, which plays home to some of the best in LGBTQ-themed films and series of the coming year.

Spoiler alert: We’ve already seen a good chunk of the lineup and can attest that this year has a sleeper hit or two on the roster. From the sexy to the spiritual, this year’s entries explore the farthest reaches of the diversity of our experience with wit and style.

Have a look at our must-see picks for this year’s fest, July 18-28.

Adam

Adam premiered to glowing reviews earlier this year at Sundance. We caught the film there and can attest: it’s a delightful time. The film follows its titular hero over a summer he’ll never forget, to say the least. When he meets the girl of his dreams—a lesbian—he poses as a transgender man to earn her affections. Tender and funny, the debut feature of out-trans director Rhys Ernst also raises questions about our own hypocrisies, and what it means to fall in love with a person, regardless of his genitalia.

July 21.

Circus of Books

This Tribeca doc comes to Outfest, which fits with the subject matter. Circus of Books chronicles the life and times of the West Hollywood porn shop operated by a straight middle-class Jewish family. As the daughter of the owners, director Rachel Mason knows a thing or two about it all. What emerges is less a story of a store than of a family trying to make a living, albeit in an unusual way, and of a queer woman trying to find her place in a community she’s always known.

July 18.

Changing the Game

Director Michael Barnett examines the ongoing controversies surrounding transgender high school athletes in this film which also garnered positive notice at Frameline43. The movie follows three star athletes navigating a political and social firestorm as they fight for their own rights and protections, and to do their schools proud. Like any great sports movie, Changing the Game offers underdog heroes begging to be rooted for, and plenty of competition—both on and off the court—to keep the drama coming.

July 25.

Straight Up

For anyone craving a script full of acidic zingers—and we know you are—look no further than Straight Up, the debut comedy by director/star James Sweeney. In the movie, Sweeney plays Todd, a gay man so obsessive he starts to think he may not be gay at all. When he meets the beautiful Rory (Katie Findlay), the two begin an awkward and often hilarious friendship as the pair examines the norms surrounding gender, sex and dating with no shortage of witty banter.

July 23 and 24.

Holy Trinity

Performance artist Molly Hewitt makes her directorial debut with this surreal slapstick comedy about a dominatrix with a huffing addiction (really). When she starts to hear the voices of the dead (yes, really), her career takes an unexpected turn, to say the least. It’s Ghost as directed by John Waters: campy and ridiculous, with a hearty dose of satire about sexual norms and fetishism.

July 19.

Sell By

Smartphone dating has its perils. Just ask Adam, the protagonist of Sell By, Mike Doyle’s new comedy. The film follows an ensemble cast navigating the pitfalls of online dating—everything from having an underage stalker to romancing an Instagrammer. Even better, the movie features a cast that includes Scott Evans (One Life to Live), Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy) and Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson (House of Cards).

July 20 and 21.

Queer Japan

The equality revolution continues Pacific-side as a group of queer heroes aim to come out and transform society in Japan. This documentary takes a look at the underground culture fostered by the up and coming queer population there, as well as the societal struggles they face in helping a staunch traditionalist culture grow.

July 21.

For they Know Not What They Do

A semi-sequel to his acclaimed feature debut For the Bible Tells Me So, director Daniel Karslake returns to the ongoing struggle within American Christianity over the inclusion of LGBTQ people within the faith and within society. Both uplifting and upsetting, For They Know Not What They Do gets to the heart of Americans fighting for their livelihood, and for the soul of their faith.

July 27.

Mr. Leather

Attention all Tom of Finland fans: this new doc aims to recreate some of the artists most iconic poses using some of the hottest men in Brazil’s leather scene. More importantly, though, the movie also tries to get at the heart of what makes the leather subculture so appealing for so many. We reiterate: leather and Brazilian men. What more do you need to warrant the cost of admission?

July 21.

Nevrland

An Austrian boy undergoes his sexual awakening via a cam site where he begins romancing a handsome man. Part coming out film, part examination of the culture of online dating, Nevrland uses surrealism to portray a mix of sexual fantasies and throbbing anxieties—something so many of us can relate to.

July 19.

Queering the Script

The conversation about the representation of queer people in film and television continues, and Queering the Script, the documentary by director Gabrielle Zilkha not only contextualizes it but also provides new insight into the role of fandom in furthering the evolution of diversity on screen. Zilkha pays special attention to female characters and characters of color, as well as how the needs of diverse representation have changed over time…and what the future holds for queer entertainment.

July 20.

Outfest Los Angeles runs July 18-28. Get tickets at Outfest.org.