By Sean Boelman
Outfest is one of the most important LGBTQIA+ arts organizations, and their annual film festival in Los Angeles is one of the most important LGBTQIA+ film events of the year. This year’s hybrid festival brought audiences across the United States some of the most exciting queer films of the year.
Here are our thoughts on some of the films that we watched as part of the festival.
Anhell69 is one of the many hybrid/experimental documentaries that played at this year’s Outfest, and also probably one of the most successful. In the film, Theo Montoya explores what it meant to grow up as a queer youth in the conservative and violent city of Medellín. It’s a complicated, multi-layered, and nuanced film that is almost like a puzzle to unravel. Although not everything about the film works, those parts that do are pretty brilliant.
Corey Sherman’s coming-of-age comedy Big Boys is one of the most incredibly awkward and uncomfortable films of the year, but the story is told with so much sincerity that it’s hard not to be charmed by it. The film follows a teenage boy who experiences a self-discovery after forming an unexpected crush on a camping trip. Young actor Isaac Krasner gives a very nuanced, often hilarious performance in the leading role that will be extremely relatable to anyone who went through a period of sexual questioning in their adolescence. Although the film is straightforward, its honesty allows it to stand out.
Captain Faggotron Saves the Universe
Harvey Rabbit’s Captain Faggotron Saves the Universe is the type of niche genre film that will appeal to its target audience and absolutely piss off everyone else. The film follows a closeted priest and a gay superhero who try to thwart an alien trying to turn the Earth into a homosexual planet. The film’s purposefully low production values and stilted performances give the film a feeling akin to a porn parody, but there are tons of really funny and satirical moments throughout. It’s not for the squeamish or easily offended, yet there is certainly an audience who will appreciate its relentless absurdity.
The Fabulous Ones
Roberta Torre’s documentary The Fabulous Ones is at once a joyous celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community and a heart-wrenching examination of an issue that affects them. The film follows a group of transgender women who set out on a journey to fulfill the last wish of their late friend, who was buried in male clothing against her will. It’s both poignant and insightful in its exploration of how the trans community unfortunately remains oppressed, but there’s something undeniably charming about seeing this group of women who are there to support each other, no matter what.
Georden West’s experimental documentary Playland is the type of film you respect more than you enjoy. Having played at both IFFR and Tribeca to a positive reception, Playland hoped to cement itself a place in the ranks of LGBTQIA+ cinema canon by making a stop at what might be the world’s most important queer film event in the country. Telling the story of Boston’s oldest gay bar, the film incorporates archive materials and recordings along with some creative reenactments. It’s a pretty astounding experience visually, but it leaves something to be desired narratively.
Outfest ran in-person in Los Angeles from July 13-23, and online from July 17-30.
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.