LGBT film festivals are a tradition in the community. They’re a place to showcase fantastic films that, because of their content, don’t always find a home in the mainstream market. They bring queer folks together en masse in a way that doesn’t involve alcohol or parade permits. But oftentimes they’re a bit too expensive for the average broke young gay person to attend.
Los Angeles’ Outfest is changing all of that this year by making a wide selection of its films available online completely free of charge.
The website for Outfest Online offers up short films, documentaries, comedies, dramas, and even some experimental works, all for exactly zero dollars. While not every film in the festival—which wrapped yesterday—is available on the site, you will find a hefty selection there.
Some of the films on the site actually started as online hits before they appeared at the festival. The 1996 high-school documentary Dirty Girls became a rabid sensation after it was uploaded to YouTube in 2013. The film follows a group of grungy, outcast teen Riot Grrrls as they navigate feminism and queerness amid the hostilities of school life.
Other filmmakers used the Internet to crowdfund their costs along the way. Such is the case with BrocKINGton, a documentary about Southern black trans teen Blake Brockington, who tragically took his own life this March.
Some of the most powerful films explore intersectional subject matter, with race and class overlapping sexuality in a way that’s likely to resonate with anyone who ever felt confused about where they belong.
The doc Prep School Negro digs into the Venn diagram of its main character’s life as a black teen from the inner city who gets a scholarship to a prestigious private prep school, only to return home and find himself shunned by neighbors who view the move as a betrayal.
There are international selections, too, like the feature Purple Skies, which offers an inside look at the lives of Indian lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender men.
Not every film in the festival is a documentary, of course. The 30-something lesbian dating dramedy Easy Abby sprang forth from a web series of the same name. The directors, wanting to enter the film festival circuit, edited the series into a feature film—one of the many available for free on the Outfest Online website.
Outfest is said to draw about 40,000 people per year, but its website will vastly increase the reach of its films. More than 60 films are available right now, with more being added as the year progresses.
Photo via anthony_lui/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III