Out on Film: Highlighting LGBT Cinema for Atlanta for 26 Years

As Oscar turns 85 this year, Out on Film (Atlanta’s own LGBT film festival being held from October 3–10, 2013) enters it’s 26th year of bringing the best cinematic experience highlighting LGBT issues and themes to Atlanta.

Out on Film has been entertaining local audiences since 1987, and last year celebrated a double milestone: it’s 25th anniversary and it’s biggest year ever! Growing numbers, in audience attendance, the number of films shown and in the number of visiting filmmakers coming to speak about their works, has solidified Out on Film as one of the nation’s most important outlets for films appealing to  the LGBT population. Over the past 25 years, it is estimated that the festival has shown upwards of 1500 LGBT-themed films and entertained close to 100,000 patrons.

A non-profit organization, Out on Film was created to inform, entertain, educate and enrich the regional LGBT community by recognizing the creative work of these artists and professionals, many with local connections.

Dozens of LGBT film festivals dot the global map over the course of a year, and Atlanta’s Out on Film has played host to local, national and international films celebrating the diversity in LGBT communities both near and far.

We talked to Jim Farmer, the festival’s director about the past, present and future of both the Out on Film festival and LGBT films in general.

What does the future of the group look like? What can audiences hope to see in the next 25 years?

Every year since Out On Film became independent in 2008, we have grown. We want to be up there with the big boys one day, just behind Frameline in San Francisco and Outfest in Los Angeles. I personally believe that LGBT film festivals will be around in 25 years. They are a needed forum not just as a place to see LGBT product and meet LGBT filmmakers, but as a safe haven where people can come together and see films like these with their community and community allies.

Do you think that films that contain LGBT themes can be hurt in regards to the Oscars and other mainstream cinema competitions?

Many actors have won Oscars for playing gay. The most noted example of it hurting was Brokeback Mountain. When Brokeback Mountain lost the Best Picture Academy Award to Crash, it shocked most everyone. There are members of the Academy who are gay/gay-friendly and will recognize LGBT fare, but there are other members who aren’t as embracing. Several Academy members refused to even watch Brokeback, which is one reason—along with industry love for Crash—that it won every award known to man except the Academy Award.

Do you think movies and media and general have helped or hurt the public’s perception of LGBT members of society and why?

Many LGBT-themed films get made every year but few of them get distribution and even fewer of them get a wide release. When an LGBT film is playing at multiplexes across the country, that’s a best-case scenario to help to advance the movement.  There is no doubt that LGBT-positive movies and media help the perception. In the last few decades, depictions of LGBT characters has become more positive. When people realize that we are virtually the same as they are, perceptions slowly change.

For more information about Out on Film visit www.outonfilm.org

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