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FilmOut San Diego's annual festival promises to showcase best of LGBT films

SAN DIEGO -- FilmOut San Diego volunteers and board members are working tirelessly this summer to provide San Diego and Southern California with a diverse collection of LGBT films as colorful and varied as the vibrant gay community.

This year’s festival is just two weeks away, happening over the weekends of Aug. 19-21 and Aug. 26-28. A total of 60 movies, documentaries and short films will be shown over the six-day festival.

The opening night film is “Going Down In LaLa Land,” which will be followed by an opening night party.

This gala party will be at Top of the Park in Hillcrest from 10 pm to midnight. “There will be 12 local restaurants catering the party. Opening Night is $30 and that includes the film, Q&A with filmmakers/talent and the party, which also includes complimentary vodka drinks, beer, wine and soda,” Festival Programmer Michael McQuiggan said.

Here is a preview of what to expect: lots of films, lots of celebrities and lots of chances to ask questions of the filmmakers.

“There will be 60 films this year, and I already have commitments from 34 of the films to do Q&A segments. There will be hundreds of filmmakers/talent/crew at this year’s six-day film festival! Filmmakers who attend introduce their films and all do a 15-minute Q&A after the screening. Audience members can engage them in the theater lobby after the Q&A as well as for photo ops and signings,” McQuiggan said.

McQuiggan, along with co-programmer Ana Pines, viewed and selected the 60 films, carefully narrowing down their selections from more than 300 submissions.

“This year the trend was definitely romantic comedy, so there are lots of those at the festival, but every genre is represented. Additionally, there are three West Coast premieres, Sundance favorites selections, and much more,” McQuiggan said.

No film festival is complete without giving out a few awards and paying homage to a few of the industry’s luminaries. This year, FilmOut will honor director Randal Kleiser (“Grease,” “Blue Lagoon,” “Summer Lovers,” “Grandview USA”) and screen the 15th anniversary of his groundbreaking LGBT film “It’s My Party.”

“Mr. Kleiser will introduce the film, do a Q&A, and then do a 30-60 minute workshop with filmmakers and actors at a venue within the Birch North Park Theater,” McQuiggan said. SDGLN Editor in Chief Ken Williams and fellow FilmOut board member Len Irving will emcee the workshop.

Despite being focused on the LGBT community, FilmOut strives to reach a demographic that spans all ages, sexual preferences, income ranges and ethnicities, McQuiggan said.

“Since we started our monthly screenings almost two years ago with cult films that appeal to everybody, our audience has grown to include more students and heterosexual audience members — which is great because you don’t need to be LGBT to enjoy the selections at our film festival this year. There is something for everybody," he said.

"FilmOut’s mission is to enlighten educate and entertain the communities of San Diego County and beyond through the exhibition of of LGBT-themed films. FilmOut San Diego seeks to recognize, promote, celebrate and support the important diverse artistic contributions LGBT filmmakers make to our community,” McQuiggan said.

The festival will wrap up with a closing night party at URBN Wood Fired Pizza in North Park immediately following the screening of the final film, “The Green.” The closing night party will be catered by North Park restaurants only and will be held from 10 pm to midnight. Closing night tickets cost $20.

All films will be screened at the historic Birch North Park Theater, which seats 735 people. For more information on screening times and pricing, please visit filmoutsandiego.com. Follow FilmOut on Facebook and Twitter

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News will provide in-depth coverage in advance of the film festival, providing synopsis of each movie and numerous video trailers. The next FilmOut feature will be published on Monday, Aug. 8.