Over the course of July, I watched 159 of the just over 200 entries to Outfest LA LGBTQ+ Film Festival 2022. There were amazing feature films, documentaries, shorts, and episodic features. There was horror, comedy, romance, and drama alike. I was particularly by the films that depicted the struggle of gender in unique ways and the films that queered sports. These seven films were among the Outfest LA highlights from the final leg of the festival not already mentioned elsewhere in our coverage.
The Beginning & the Middle
In Alexis G. Zall’s short film The Beginning and the Middle, two childhood friends come together at a party and contemplate what it might mean to admit their feelings for one another and dive head first into them. This short makes my final list of Outfest LA highlights for how hopeful it decides to be. There’s so much uncertain in the world right now, let alone the inherent uncertainty of love. Deciding to forgo caution and choose to live for the thrill of the beginning and the joy of the middle without concern for how it might end is a precious choice.
God Save the Queens
Four drag queens go to therapy in Jordan Danger’s God Save the Queens starring Alaska Thunderfuck, Laganja Estranja, Kelly Mantle, and Jordan M Green. GiGi/Klein (Green) is struggling to make it as a drag performer, despite all the support in the world. Marmalade (Mantle) is feeling the weight of age discrimination in the drag world. And Stevie (Alaska Thunderfuck) and Rita (Laganja Estranja) are forced to rekindle a rivalry/best friendship for the sake of a TV show that might save their careers. The movie shows just as much of the queens onstage as off and is as funny and dramatic in both settings. The format of having all for of them spilling the beans at an awkward therapy retreat while a mysterious woman (Luenell) plays God totally makes the movie. If you’re a fan of drag,
Being “half” anything is hard. Because when it comes to identity “half” is a complete misnomer. In Jacob Roberts’s short film Half, Jonah is both bisexual, making him “half straight” and “half gay” as well as from an interfaith family where he is “half Jewish.” It’s a funny film, but I appreciate how it uses two separate, and for me personally relatable, identities to dig at the heart of what so many people who are “half” struggle with. Because you can’t be “half” of any identity. I mean, mathematically maybe, but if you’re Jewish, you’re just Jewish. If you’re bi, you’re just bi. Even if you have to live life code switching in different spaces you’re still wholly you at all times. But obviously other people don’t necessarily see us that way and they exclude us and they ridicule us and they make us make binary choices about our very non-binary existences. And so underneath its humorous peal, Half does a really great job demonstrating this struggle in a fun and relatable way.
¡Nails! by Eliana Pipes is a short animated film about a girl discovering her sexuality and among all the questions she has, how long girls who like girls keep their nails is the most pressing. This hyperfixation is entirely relatable not necessarily for what it’s about specifically but because it chooses to be so specific in the first place. Having a seemingly insignificant question turn into a monumental anxiety is completely relatable and the animation in this film as the main character’s nails wreak havoc and personify her anxiety is quite excellent.
Colman Domingo stars in this tragic short film by P.J. Palmer about a man doing everything he can to look after his dying husband while his sister-in-law and a pair of televangelists shower them in shame. Domingo is incredible in this Outfet LA highlight, as a quiet rage lies beneath his ever-tender love, patience, and commitment. The circumstances are dismal enough with his husband’s condition, so when his intolerant in-law shows up and begins to tear them both down. The ever-present televangelist bigots in the background compound the viewer’s fury and through it all, just makes Domingo’s acting shine even brighter and the story the more heartbreaking.
Troy is hands-down one of the most hilarious and creative shorts from the whole Outfest LA film festival. Directed by Mike Donahue and written byJen Silverman, this short is about a couple who form a parasocial relationship with their next door neighbor through their thin wall. He has unbearably loud sex that, at first is annoying, but quickly becomes an almost obsession for the two and their friends. This leads to several very funny situations and encounters as they continue being entertained and fulfilled by his antics and his personal life.
Unicorn by Matt Porter is a short film that couldn’t keep off of my Outfest LA end-of-show highlights for how it takes something tantalizing and turns it into something completely absurd before finishing with a serious and well-delivered message. When our main character arrives at a couple’s house to serve as their unicorn for the evening, it starts out a tad awkward, especially as they enumerate their reason for how he was selected of all people. But it quickly turns into a totally ridiculous affair involving blood sacrifice and the summoning of a sex demon before the unicorn lays out the truth for this deranged couple that thirds can’t and do not consent to being used as a salve for a broken relationship. It’s not his job nor could it ever be his to reignite a sex life that’s dying, no matter how much kink is involved. It’s a sharp parable hidden inside a really funny and obscene story.
Some final honorable mentions that stood out at Outfest LA 2022: The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night, The Paranormal Communicator, The Ladies, Keep/Delete, Lollygag.
Outfest LA Film Festival 2022 took place from July 14-24. Follow all of our Outfest LA coverage.