Way Out West Film Fest features 88 movies with LGBTQ ties - Albuquerque Journal

Way Out West Film Fest features 88 movies with LGBTQ ties

Thomas Duplessie as Russell/Fishy Falters in a scene from “Jump, Darling.” (Courtesy of Viktor Cahoj)

Twenty-two feature-length films.

Sixty-six short films shown in 10 shorts programs.

The 19th Annual Way Out West Film Fest will showcase 88 films during its 10-day run as it remains virtual for the second year.

“We were ready to have a hybrid festival,” says Roberto Appicciafoco, festival director. “Then we made the decision to have a virtual film festival due to the ongoing pandemic.”

For nearly two decades, the Way Out West Film Fest has celebrated the diversity of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer experience.

The 10-day festival features films, documentaries, short programs and special events.

Appicciafoco says this year’s lineup of films features a lot of Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest films.

“It all comes down to diversity,” he says. “It’s about good storytelling, good production values. Of course, there has to be queer content.”

Appicciafoco and his screening committee viewed more than 350 films over several months to select the 88 that are screening at the festival.

“I always look for a balance in everything,” he says. “It’s, like, we want to have a good show of drama and comedies and films that are topical to the LGBTQ community.”

The festival will open on Friday, Oct. 15, with two films – “Fanny: The Right to Rock” and “Jump, Darling.”

Appicciafoco says “Fanny: The Right to Rock” tells the story of the rock band Fanny. The band – including at various times the self-taught sisters June and Jean Millington, along with Brie Howard Darling, Nickey Barclay, Alice de Buhr, and Patti Quatro – kicked down the door for the likes of The Runaways and The Go-Go’s by being the first all-female rock band to release an album with a major record company in the ’70s.

“They’ve been overlooked by the entire industry,” Appicciafoco says. “They’re trying to do a reunion and make their mark in their 70s.”

Appicciafoco says “Jump, Darling” is a special film because it is the final movie with Cloris Leachman.

It tells the story of baby drag queen Russell who has burned some bridges, getting dumped by his boyfriend and blacklisted by a Toronto drag bar. He escapes to the country to get an old car from his cheeky but loving grandmother, played by Leachman, and drives off to a new start.

But life intervenes, and he ends up caring for her by day and performing as Fishy Falters at a local dive by night. As he settles into his double life, he begins to unearth long-held secrets about his family’s tragic past.

Appicciafoco wanted to spotlight the documentary “Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Story,” which is available to view through Oct. 24.

“This follows the life of Pedro Zamora, who was the first openly gay man on reality TV while on ‘The Real World: San Francisco,’ ” he says. “I was in my early 20s and remember that he was an advocate for queer people.”

The closing night films will be “Sweetheart” and “Mascarpone.”

Appicciafoco says that with the festival being virtual and open to viewers in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Arizona, there will be more opportunity for the festival to be known.

He says each of the films will be available to view through Oct. 24.

“The films all drop on the same day,” he says. “We’re trying to give an opportunity for a lot of people to view these films with important messages. The short film blocks are full of diverse stories. This is a film festival for all because the stories are universal.”


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