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FilmOut San Diego ‘09

San Diego’s LGBT Film Festival Kicks Off Its 11th Season Tonight

Stuart G. Bennett in Eugene

Credit: Jake Barsha

Above: Stuart G. Bennett in Eugene


Morning Edition Film Chat about FilmOut San Diego '09 with KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando.


FilmOut, San Diego's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Film Festival, kicks off it's 11th year on Thursday May 28 at 7:30 pm at the Birch North Park Theater. FilmOut has gone through a lot of changes. Joe Ferrelli started the festival as a thesis project and now it's firmly established as San Diego's Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Last year it tried a full week's worth of films at the Ken Cinema. This year they have pared down to a 4-day weekend at the Birch North Park Theater but they are showing almost as many films. Their goal is to show a diversity of films that fits in with the festival’s mission statement “to enlighten, educate, and entertain the communities of San Diego County through the exhibition of LGBT-themed films. FilmOut San Diego seeks to recognize, promote, celebrate and support the important diverse artistic contributions LGBT filmmakers make to our community.”

Opening night is usually a crowd pleaser and this year is no exception. The festival opens with Make the Yuletide Gay and the title says it all, it's a Christmas comedy about coming out and much of the humor comes from double entendres as a young man tries to come out to his seemingly straight-laced parents. It's fun, fast-paced and with an excess of holiday cheer.

One of the edgier choices programmer Michael McQuiggan has made is to screen Eugene. Director Jake Barsha describes it as "a psychosexual thriller about the need for love and presented in a way that's exceptional and vivid it has a lot of elements that make it very edgy and unusual." He said he was influenced by pulp novelist Jim Thompson.

JAKE BARSHA: When I started reading Jim Thompson's books I was presented with characters who were unlikely heroes who became villains or corrupt policemen or just very strange characters and I thought that there was more of a balance to these types of characters in terms of a reflection on real people I mean we all have our good days and bad days …and as a filmmaker I just love the idea of taking a circumstances and presenting circumstances to a character that would alter his path or cause him to question his own moral fiber or act impulsively and in Eugene's case with disastrous consequences.

I commend the festival for showing a film like this because it's about complex flawed characters and a lot of time festivals that focus on underrepresented communities want to show films that highlight only positive role models as opposed to complex characters.

I do want to mention that the festival includes a number of foreign films, I especially enjoyed Fashion Victims, and independent films like Watercolors. Plus a number of short film programs where you can see the diversity packed into an hour or two.

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