The 2021 OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival highlighted a wide range of fascinating indies of varying qualities. I really enjoyed taking the time to watch so many of these under-the-radar movies, many of which would’ve probably flown under my radar otherwise. For the movies I’ve already covered previously, or those awarded full coverage elsewhere, I have provided links. Out of their slate, I watched a total of 11 films.
BOY MEETS BOY
THE MAN WITH THE ANSWERS
The easiest way to describe this one is just a simple slice of life tale. The cinematography is lovely, and the chemistry between the leads bubbles with possibility. It falls a bit flat when all is said and done, but it’s cute as hell to see how the relationship between German Matthias and Greek Victor flourishes.
Emotionally speaking, My Fiona is one of the fest’s best offerings. After Fiona commits suicide (in one of the film’s most shocking and memorable moments), her widow Gemma and her best friend Jane form a connection both surprising and difficult to define. Their motto is “if we fail, we fail together.” Punctuated by powerful sexual longing, moments of weeping in the shower, and lesbian love, My Fiona tells a tender and difficult story with grace and smart scripting.
MY FIRST SUMMER
A mostly cute, harmless depiction of young love at its most innocent stage. Pinky promises reign supreme in this fragile examination of human connection and early-age trauma’s effects. A line that stuck out to me is during the big kiss, one of the girls says the other’s lips “taste like strawberry milk.” It’s the most adorable moment of My First Summer.
ON THE FRINGE OF WILD
A hellish descent through toxic masculinity, On the Fringe of Wild paints one of the characters stuck deep in the closet as a villainous leech hiding behind a fake girlfriend. The bigotry and suicide it deals with may need trigger warnings for more sensitive viewers. I really loved the character of Peter (Harrison Browne), but wanted more from the barebones narrative.
POTATO DREAMS OF AMERICA
I haven’t the faintest idea what I expected from this bizarre indie flick. Very weird visuals, sexual tension, amnesia, regurgitated food—I was both shocked and profoundly confused by this. The constant musings about Videodrome were really interesting when that film was clearly the primary inspiration for this one. The portrayal of sex as violent and bloody and visceral left my jaw agape.
I only other film I’ve seen from director Bruce LaBruce was 2008’s confounding gay horror comedy Otto; or, Up with Dead People. Not even that movie could’ve prepared me for this strange twincest psycho-sexual genre hybrid. It’s all weirdly religious, graphic, and brazenly bizarre… and I’m not sure I understood any of it. Lead Felix-Antoine Duval is undeniably fantastic and fully embraces the oddity of it all.
SEE YOU THEN
A group of friends putting on a play called Firefly—with potential to explode into a massive smash hit—are torn apart. A surrogacy invades the relationships, with rising confusion on how much involvement there will be in the kid’s life. The musical scenes are great and the songs are catchy and vibrant, but the rest of it isn’t nearly as engaging. The biggest conflict comes in the battle to manage one’s ego.
Out of the bunch, my favorites were Boy Meets Boy, Potato Dreams of America, and Sublet! Thank you for reading my coverage of 2021’s OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival, and my ramblings about the plethora of exciting projects from up-and-coming creatives.