Members and supporters of the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender and Queer community convened Friday night at the MultiCultural Center to celebrate 20 years of OUTrageous, the Santa Barbara LGBTQ film festival. Short films were presented to UCSB students, Santa Barbara residents and even a number of out-of-the-country guests in hopes of promoting sexual acceptance amongst different cultures and societies. The films themselves covered a broad range of topics from a “Breaking the Chains’” documentary-like story about the plight of gays and lesbians in Uganda to “Gay for Pay”, a push to bring attention to the media obsession with sexual orientation.
OUTrageous started 20 years ago and prides itself on providing a “diverse spectrum of films for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.” What began as a two-day event featuring around a dozen films has since grown into a four-day extravaganza with several American and foreign films added to its repertoire including those from the Venice, Toronto and Sundance Film Festivals.
“When we first got started, it was the only show in town,” said Mashey Bernstein, a founding member of OUTrageous. “Now there are a lot more townies…Film is a very special way of communicating. It adds a drama.”
Trailers for movies scheduled to be shown over the next three days ran prior to the shorts and summarized the feeling of the event. While some of the full length films like “The Adventures of Priscilla” and “eCupid” aimed to remain light hearted and focus on the average lives of the LGBTQ community, several others took the festival as a way to express the stressful lives and uncertain futures of LGBTQ members.
“I’m just trying to live my life openly and honestly,” said the narrator for “Wish Me Away,” “because not [doing so] nearly killed me.”
This sentiment underscored the fact that while progress is being made, there are still great heights to reach until full social acceptance is achieved.
Abdi Nazemain, the director of “Revolution,” a short film depicting a 16-year-old Iranian boy’s own personal rebellion within his family, likes exposing audiences to a film which shows how sexual orientation need not be the main focus of every member of the LGBTQ community. For instance, the decision over whether or not to keep their dog, Antonia, stands as a larger plot point than the main characters sexuality.
UCSB graduate Melissa Perez shared in a similar sentiment that addressed in “Revolution,” with her film “Over & Out.” The film centers around a Santa Barbara girl trying out new ways to connect with the people in her life.
“The story is about technology and what happens when you try to get rid of it….there’s two girls in it,” said Perez.
She reinforces the sense that, for members of the LGBTQ community, the festival is more about the quality of the story than the sexual orientation of the characters.
Quality was above average in the films as Justine Sutton, an OUTrageous committee member, highlighted after the showing. The event brings together vastly different perspectives, combines them in an entertaining way, and welcomes the community to share in their enjoyment of life and all its complications. OUTrageous aims to show that whether gay or straight, good art and love are never easy, sometimes complicated, but always beautiful.
OUTrageous will be running at the Metro 4 Theater on State Street October 20 to 23. Tickets for individual screenings run $10 with passes available for purchase at outrageousfilmfestival.com.