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Programmer’s Message

ImageOut 27: Make It Work!

In my 17 years of programming ImageOut, this is the first time that I actually doubted whether I could complete a whole film lineup before the Festival starts. It was that bad. The last few weeks were stressful and intense only because I had the perfect storm of deadlines. Oh the life of a volunteer! But I survived it and the program got done, albeit delayed. Sometimes, my best work happens when my back is against the wall. The creative process might be painful but the results can be gratifying. Without sounding too dramatic, looking at this year’s lineup brings tears to my eyes. It’s (almost) everything I wanted and I’m pretty sure you will find a lot of things to love.

From hundreds of films that were submitted and the Programming Committee considered, our 27th edition will have 77 films, thoughtfully curated over 40 programs, representing 21 countries including Lebanon, Philippines, Iran, Guatemala, and Luxembourg to name a few. Determining the gala spots was a tough job as always and they are some of the films I am most excited about to bring to Rochester screens.

Opening Night selections Vita & Virginia and An Almost Ordinary Summer are the perfect films to set the tone for the festival – not too heavy, a little bit sexy, and featuring captivating characters. Summer picks up where My Big Gay Italian Wedding left off at the end of last year’s festival. It is hilarious but heartfelt.

There seems to be a trend for performance films, lodged in that gray area between narrative and documentary categories. We hope to capitalize on the popularity of Fathom Events and National Theater Live broadcasts by including not one but two amazing shows. Ham: A Musical Memoir starring the impressive and energetic Sam Harris doing his one-man show. But wait until you see our Closing Night film, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. It is fabulous! The actual show has never been staged outside of the UK so most of us are not familiar with it. It’s one of my favorites this year and you too will be talking about Jamie afterwards!

Song Lang from Vietnam is our devastatingly beautiful Narrative Centerpiece, showcasing a relatable connection between two men that is sometimes hard to figure out. Makes my heart melt just thinking about it. Anchoring our documentary selections this year is our Documentary Centerpiece, For They Know Not What They Do, bringing to the fore the issue of religion against homosexuality and it’s harmful effects on families of faith. Through this medium we are bringing important films that hopefully spark conversations and a call to action.

A trio of award-winning films make up our Spotlight Feature selections. Cannes Film Festival standout Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is sure to wow you with its impeccable cinematography as well as its provocative story. Ophir Award winner Flawless with its superb young cast is inspiring with its honest depiction of trans adolescence. Festival favorite End of the Century tackles modern gay hookups and gives it a fresh spin. They should definitely be high on your must-see list.

As I think about all the other films that you will have a chance to see, I cannot help but get very excited. For many of them, ImageOut will be the only avenue for you to enjoy them, which highlights why film festivals are still important. There are simply too many films, LGBTQ films in particular, that will never reach our audience here if not for our efforts in bringing the best LGBTQ cinema from around the world to local theaters. And that in itself makes all the stresses and headaches of putting together a film lineup all worth it.

So come join us this October for 11 days of films, parties, and community. Don’t be left out. Participate!

ImageOut Programming Director