When the Beat Drops is the opening night selection for Out on Film.

The 31st annual Out On Film, which showcases LGBT movies, returns Sept. 27 to Oct. 7 at Midtown Art Cinema, Out Front Theatre Company and the Plaza Theatre.

“This is an amazing year for LGBT cinema,” says Out On Film festival director Jim Farmer. “We aim to grow every year and this is our biggest festival to date in terms of the number of films we are showing and the most diverse slate we’ve ever presented. We celebrate films from around the world and in our own backyard. We are excited to share our programming.”

The opening night film is the Atlanta-set “When the Beat Drops,” which follows a crew of gay African-American men as they pioneer the Southern-rooted underground dance scene known as “bucking.”  Director Jamal Sims, producer Jordan Finnegan, star Anthony Davis and many of the film’s cast will be in attendance.


The closing night film will be Ondi Timoner’s “Mapplethorpe,” starring Emmy nominee Matt Smith (“The Crown,” “Doctor Who”) as the legendary gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. “Mapplethorpe” charts his rise to fame in the 1970s to his ultimately death in 1989. The film also stars Mark Moses, John Benjamin Hickey and Marianne Rendon as Patti Smith.

Other highlights include Rupert Everett’s “The Happy Prince.” The film charts the last days in the life of Oscar Wilde. The cast also includes Colin Firth. Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson.

Madeleine Olnek’s Victorian dramedy “Wild Nights With Emily” re-imagines the personal life of 19th century poet Emily Dickinson, played by Molly Shannon. It destabilizes the widely held perception that she was a reclusive spinster by showcasing her “hidden persona”: a lively and comedic personality who was romantically involved with her best friend/sister-in law.

Andrew Fleming’s “Ideal Home” stars Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan as a bickering gay couple whose life is turned inside out when a 10-year-old boy shows up at their door claiming to be a grandson.

A special event at this year’s Out On Film will be a staged reading of the classic play “The Laramie Project,” directed by actor/writer and Out On Film alum Chad Darnell, featuring cast members Amy Acker (“The Gifted”), Randy Havens (“Stranger Things”), Jessica Meisel (“The Resident’), Tara Ochs (“Selma”) and Atlanta theatre icons Steve Coulter and Rosemary Newcott. All proceeds will benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder.

Several web series will be included in this year’s program, including the acclaimed “After Forever,” starring Atlanta’s Mitchell Anderson, in which a single gay man in his 50’s suddenly has to re-negotiate his life.

Dykes, Camera, Action!

Out On Film’s will also have many documentaries including “Man Made,” directed by Atlanta’s T. Cooper, which focuses on transgender male (FTM) culture, revealing unexpected truths about gender, masculinity, humanity and love.  There’s also “Every Act of Life,” about legendary playwright Terrence McNally; Tiffany Bartok’s “Larger Than Life: the Kevyn Aucoin Story,” about make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin; Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson’s SXSW smash “TransMilitary,” about transgender people serving in the military and their personal and professional struggles; and Caroline Berler’s “Dykes, Camera, Action,” offering up a history of queer cinema from the women who made it happen.

Out On Film will host its first-ever Horror Night on Oct. 6 with Colin Minihan’s “What Keeps You Alive,” in which majestic mountains, a still lake and venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate a one-year anniversary, and Matt Montgomery’s “Devil’s Path,” in which two men encounter each other on a dangerous gay cruising park trail and quickly find themselves caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

For a complete list of films, schedule and tickets, visit www.outonfilm.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.