It’s that time again. Truly, the best thing about Outfest is that it’s never the sameexperience twice! Year after year, the best and brightest LGBT filmmakers andtheir friends converge on Hollywood to show off their creativity and express theirunique vision to the masses.This year, one of the biggest headlines of the festival is comedic actress JaneLynch, who is being honored with the Outfest Achievement Award. Ms. Lynch,who just married her partner in May, has gained acclaim and a huge fan-following since originating the role of hard-assed cheerleading captain SueSylvester on the hit Fox show “Glee.” Hopefully, her participating and recognitionin Outfest 2010 will draw in mass media enough to take notice of some of theother brilliant, lesser known artists represented in the festival.This year’s offering includes 143 films from 25 countries. For the first time, thecountry of Nepal has an entry in the festival (a country near and dear to my heartas I just filmed my first documentary in this amazing country). For those who arelucky enough to live in the Los Angeles area or those who are able to travel tothe event, it’s an amazing experience.The media professionals who cover Outfest have an important role in thatthey have the capacity to turn this annual event into a mainstream festival thatis more receivable to a mass audience. It’s not enough to show LGBT filmssolely to the LGBT community. There is a real opportunity here to bring thesefilms into the limelight and the success of films like “Brokeback Mountain,” andshows like “Glee” is proof. These films have the capacity to change hearts andminds and to show that LGBT people are not scary. We’re parents, we’re yourneighbors, we’re business owners and may even be your friends or members ofyour family.A Labor of LoveOutfest is near and dear to my heart and it’s a passion that began taking shapea few years ago. After graduating from college, I worked for the Gay & LesbianAlliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). It was through this organization that Ilearned how impactful words and images can be. I was part of a team that holdsthe media accountable for what they put on the big screen, small screen, and inthe papers and magazines decorating our coffee tables. The organization alsofamously celebrates the achievements of media that got it right in the form oftheir annual GLAAD Media Awards. I left the organization after three years inorder to become one of the filmmakers creating the culture-changing work that Ihad spent so much time celebrating.In the few short years since my departure, I’ve had the distinct pleasure ofworking on not one… not two… but THREE films featuring LGBT content andfilmmakers. I am incredibly humbled and honored to be alongside such talentedartists and technicians. It’s amazing the bravery and vulnerability they show eachday they come to work.This Year’s Crop: Something for EveryoneGiven the talent involved, I was completely unsurprised when I found out thattwo of the films I worked on were headliners at this year’s Outfest Film Festival inLos Angeles. A Marine Story is the poignant tale of a military officer that returnshome from war, only to find herself in a different battle, involving a teen recruitjust beginning boot camp. Elena Undone is an unlikely love story between twowomen with VERY different lives. One is a lesbian writer and the other is thewife of a pastor.To top off an amazing season, I was completely floored when I was nominatedto head up the Outfest Legacy Awards this fall and make an even greatercontribution to the LGBT filmmaking world by protecting the images and stories inthis canon of film for generations to come.It’s Not Just About the Movies"So why is Outfest important?" Cultural change happens in our living rooms andaround the dining room table, not in ballot boxes. The diversity of our complexcommunity and its allies is rarely even touched on in entertainment- so havinga bevy of options celebrating that diversity is a rare treat. Some of the mosttalented filmmakers in the business are members of the LGBT community andthey make good movies! Creating a legacy of moving images that tell stories thathave the capacity to change hearts and minds is invaluable."Why am I involved?" As a filmmaker and storyteller, I care how my life and thelives of my friends are portrayed. Film and television can reach beyond bordersand walls and this is the way that I choose to create change. The talentedpool of individuals that are showcased this year are often under-supported andoverlooked in the wider entertainment arena and it is my pleasure to be part ofgiving them their well-deserved spotlight."Why should you be involved?" It’s one of the only places that you will get to seemany of these films on the big screen. Your financial support in the form ofmovie tickets will actually go to a cause you can be proud of- encouraging moreLGBT filmmakers to keep making incredible movies!- - -by: Janelle Eagle, Guest Blogger
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