Film lovers have a full plate in the coming week. The Outflix Film Festival is back for its 22nd year of presenting LGBTQ cinema to the Mid-South. What began as a weekend of University of Memphis students commandeering an auditorium to show gay-themed films has, against all odds, lasted for more than two decades and expanded into one of the city’s premiere film events.
This year the festival, which is put on by OUTMemphis, moves to Studio on the Square in Midtown for the first time. Fifty shorts, features, documentaries, dramas, and comedies will screen over the course of the weeklong festival. A grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission means two of the screenings are free. The first gratis movie is opening night film Our Dance of Revolution. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the acclaimed documentary by director Phillip Pike examines the history and impact of pioneering black LGBTQ groups in Toronto, Canada.
The second opening night film is The Shiny Shrimps. The French comedy by directors Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo concerns an Olympic swimming champion named Matthias Le Goff who lets homophobic remarks slip during a TV interview. Soon, he finds himself coaching a hopeless amateur water polo team composed of gay men who are desperate to qualify for the Gay Games in Croatia. Hijinx ensue.
The second free screening comes on Saturday with Changing the Game, a documentary about three transgender athletes trying to break through in their respective sports.
Saturday night at 7:30 is Mom + Mom, an Italian narrative drama based on director Karole Di Tommaso's experiences trying to have a child with her partner.
The highlight of the packed Sunday schedule looks to be Gay Chorus Deep South. Founded in 1978, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus was the first of its kind in the world. In the wake of the 2016 elections, the chorus set out on an epic tour of the South to promote understanding and confront hate. Director David Charles Rodrigues' stirring film documents the music and the emotion as the men made their way through hostile territory, making connections and changing minds.