Monday, June 20, 2011

FilmOut Taps the Magic of Movies for Gays

Includes August Festival, Monthly Screenings in North Park


Copyright © 2011 by Leo E. Laurence for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

There’s magic and millions on the silver screen in movies; and nearly every major, diverse, cultural community (including Gays) have their own, unique film festival to showcase the best of their culture on the screen, regularly.

Gays do it – and with a hot flair – in FilmOut-San Diego.

Among some of the best locally are the annual Latino Film Festival produced in the spring by the Media Arts Center of North Park, and the annual Asian Film Festival.

In additional to a cinematic extravaganza of movies at the FilmOut-San Diego festival opening August 16, the organization also produces monthly screenings in the royal elegance of the Birch North Park Theatre on University Avenue just west of 30th Street.

It’s a perfect venue for FilmOut-San Diego. The richness of the interior of the famed theatre (ac-tually built in 1929 as part of the Fox movie-theatre chain) makes going to the movies a special event, almost like a Hollywood opening.

Unique to the movie experience in southern California, patrons can even buy cocktails at special, discounted prices at the West Coast bar, which fronts the theatre on University Avenue and includes access to the bar on the second level inside the theatre.

To add some excitement before the movie is screened, a wildly popular raffle is produced by the young staff, with a drag queen as M.C. Twenty-seven door prizes were awarded during the May screening, with a total value of over $1,000. The grand prize was valued at $400.

FilmOut produces the monthly screenings, and the annual Gay film festival with over 54 movies screened over six days. That festival this year runs August 16-18 and August 24-26.

At press time, the opening film for the festival had been chosen, but couldn’t be announced because “we have yet to sign the contracts,” explained the short, strikingly handsome and muscled festival director, Kaleb James.

“Once everything is finalized, the films will be announced on our Web site,

“The FilmOut budget for our annual August festival is about $75,000. The monthly screenings cost about $2,000 each” to produce, James added. “So far, we are running a profit.”

The festival programmer is Michael McQuiggan.

The “Pride” kickoff on July 13 will be John Waters’ 1974 Female Trouble, starring Divine. According to its synopsis on the Web site, “A spoiled schoolgirl runs away from home, gets pregnant while hitchhiking, and ends up as a fashion model for a pair of beauticians who like to photograph women committing crimes.”

Explaining which films are selected for both the monthly screenings and the annual festival, “I kinda go on the top of my head with what I think our (Gay) audiences want to see,” James stated.

The selections are usually not Gay porno. In one locally produced skin flick that had been screened, the cute, baby-faced actors started stripping off their clothes in the first few minutes of the movie. Skin was paramount and lots of it, while drama and script were missing.

Our selections “are cult films that the LGBT audiences have embraced over the years. We select the films from about 100 titles,” explained Mc Quiggan.

The machinery that keeps FilmOut-San Diego going is an army of loyal volunteers who are at every monthly screening. Those screenings are great for cruising, whether you like ’em young or old.

Somehow, the guys running FilmOut-San Diego have captured a bit of those old-time Holly-wood sparkle for their events.


“The FilmOut festival started as OutFest-San Diego, which was the same name as the festival in Los Angeles,” Kaleb explained. L.A. “was like the flagship about ten years ago. It continued under that name for about eight years.

“Then there became a division in the board here because a lot of the funds from San Diego’s fes-tival were getting diverted to Los Angeles.

“So we branched off and started our own festival known as FilmOut,” explained James. The two together have been going about 13 years.”

“FilmOut has been growing, especially this year. We have seen pretty large growth, mostly be-cause we have been doing the monthly screenings,” James said.

“We are getting larger audiences (predominantly seniors, yet a diverse crowd). We have started promoting ourselves with a lot of online marketing, (including) social-media networks.

“We are putting out ticket sales in places like GoldStar, Twitter and Facebook, things like that,” James explained in an exclusive interview. “It’s started to really grow.

“Between 300 and 600 attend the monthly screenings. We’ve actually sold out a couple shows.

The house even serves homemade, hot out-of-the-oven sweet treats on the second level of the tri-level theatre.

Some of the regulars at the monthly screenings arrive an hour early to cruise, socialize and have a drink at the movies.

FilmOut-San Diego is throwing its first annual charity event on July 9. Four comedians from L.A. are scheduled to perform.

Web site:

Photo caption:

The muscled Kaleb James serves as festival director for the monthly screenings and annual, August, film festival called FilmOut. Portrait by Leo E. Laurence.