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VOL. 124 | NO. 175 | Monday, September 7, 2009

Women, Minorities Focus Of 12th Annual Outflix Film Festival

By JONATHAN DEVIN | The Memphis News

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UNLIKELY FRIENDS: Derrick L. Middleton and Aidan Schultz-Meyer become unlikely friends and companions in “The Rivers Wash Over Me” by writer Darien Sills-Evans and director John G. Young. -- PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MEMPHIS GAY AND LESBIAN COMMUNITY CENTER

A tap-dancing angel, a Swedish adoption gone wrong, and the makings of a cheerleader are among the subjects of nearly 20 gay and lesbian film debuts scheduled for the 12th annual Outflix Film Festival at the Malco Ridgeway Four.

Organizers of the event said film selections for this year’s festival, which begins Friday and runs through Sept. 17, will speak to more diverse audiences within Memphis’ gay and lesbian community than in past years.

“I’ve been with Outflix for 12 years and I’m always wanting to see Outflix progress,” said Mickey Maxwell, who serves as co-director along with Susana Rodas. The festival is produced by the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center.

Outflix draws between 1,500 and 2,000 attendees each year and previously has been held at Malco’s Studio on the Square, Peabody Place Muvico (now closed) and the Media Co-op at First Congregational Church in Midtown. It is organized by a committee of 10 volunteers.

GRITTY UNDERWORLD: The cast of “Shank,” by Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin, explore the gritty underworld of love and seduction amid Britain’s violent gang scene.

Outflix kicked off in June at Studio on the Square with a sold-out fundraiser screening of Tom Gustafson’s film “Were the World Mine,” which Maxwell described as “a gay Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The film was first shown in last year’s Outflix festival.

This year, organizers focused on finding films about women and racial minorities.

The documentary “Standing-N-Truth: Breaking the Silence” by filmmaker Tim Daniels of Nashville discusses difficulties he has encountered as a gay African-American living with HIV.

“I really hope we get a good crowd for that one because it would be very relevant to the Memphis community,” Maxwell said. “What (Daniels) keys into is that a lot of folks have blinders on. They say, ‘It’s not going to happen to me,’ and that’s one reason the spread of HIV is increasing.”

Daniels will follow the Sept. 16 screening of his film with a question-and-answer session.

Actress Sharon Gless, best known for her role in the 1980’s TV police drama “Cagney & Lacey,” stars in the free-spirited drama “Hannah Free” directed by Wendy Jo Carlton. It is about two young lesbians whose love affair spans the course of the World War II era. The film will be shown Sept. 13.

“‘Hannah Free’ opens up in Chicago for a theatrical run on Sept. 25,” Rodas said. “Our opening night film, ‘The Big Gay Musical,’ opens up the same weekend in New York.”

“The Big Gay Musical” provides laughs while telling the backstage coming out story of a Broadway actor with the help of a hunky, dancing angel.

Maxwell and Rodas said most of this year’s films are too mature for young children, but two films, “Patrik 1.5” and “Ready? OK!” are suitable for families.

“‘Ready? OK!’ is a comedy about a little boy and all he wants in the world is to be a cheerleader,” Maxwell said. “The movie centers around his family, his neighborhood and his school all learning to deal with him.”

“Patrik 1.5” (Swedish with subtitles) tells the story of two gay men trying to adopt a child.

“It’s called ‘1.5’ because they were expecting a 1-and-a-half-year old child who turns out to be a 15-year-old,” Maxwell said.

Hilarity also ensues in “Make the Yuletide Gay” about a gay college student who goes back into the closet to survive the holidays with his Midwestern family.

“Other festivals have shown ‘Make the Yuletide Gay’ and it has always done really well,” Maxwell said.

Outflix wraps up on a serious note Sept. 17 with “The Rivers Wash Over Me,” which debuted at the Los Angeles GLBT film festival Outfest in July. The film portrays the life of a black, gay teenager suffering from the loss of his mother and the intolerance of a small Alabama town.

Tickets for Outflix are available nightly at the door for $9, or festival passes can be purchased for $70.

A complete schedule of films is available at www.outflixfestival.org.

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