MICHAELA COEL and OSCAR NOMINEE ANDRA DAY TO BE HONORED
AT 2021 OUTFEST FUSION QTBIPOC FILM FESTIVAL

 

HARVEY GUILLEN, SHALITA GRANT, IAN ALEXANDER, SHERRY COLA, AND VICO ORTIZ HONORED AS RISING STARS


PANELS, WORKSHOPS AND MORE TO BE OFFERED
THROUGHOUT THE FIVE-DAY FESTIVAL

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, April 7, 2021 – The 2021 Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Film Festival announced today that it will honor Michaela Coel with the Fusion Achievement Award and  Academy Award nominee Andra Day with the James Schamus Ally Award on Saturday, April 17th.  The film festival kicks off next week with five days of entertainment, education, and a celebration of international voices who will share their stories at screenings, community workshops, a One Minute Movie Contest, music performances, and networking events. Outfest is proud of its reputation as the vanguard of queer media arts and a champion of underrepresented voices, and will continue this work by honoring Michaela Coel and Andra Day at this year’s hybrid festival drive-in events. 

The 2021 Fusion Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to LGBTQIA+ stories, arts, and media visibility will honor Coel’s body of work. Past recipients of the Award include Nisha Ganatra, Angela Robinson, Rose Troche, Wilson Cruz, Alec Mapa, Patrik-Ian Polk, Cheryl Dunye, Brickson Diamond, and Rikki Beadle-Blair.

“Coel’s work in Chewing Gum, I May Destroy You, and more portray complex characters who have helped open the door for more empathetic conversations about the issues facing members of this QTBIPOC community” said Festival Executive Director, Damien Navarro. “Outfest Fusion believes that honoring one of the most incredible, talented, and inspiring voices and storytellers of our generation will inspire Outfest Fusion’s Black creators, across all mediums, and also send a strong message within the industry that we need to include, support, and finance exponentially more independent voices.”

Outfest Fusion will honor Andra Day with the James Schamus Ally Award which recognizes a great ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Day has been a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and many have embraced her song “Rise Up” as an anthem for their own struggles and victories. And due to Day’s exquisite, Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lee Daniels’ The United States v. Billie Holiday, Outfest Fusion is spotlighting her commitment to capturing all the brave, authentic complexities of Ms. Holiday’s life. 

“Too often in fictionalizing historic lives our LGBTQIA heroes remain closested robbing our understanding of how complex their lives were and how long there has been a community supporting the fluidity of sexual desire. Ms Day’s honest performance does not shy away from these truths. Her vulnerability and strength in Lee’s [Daniels’] film gives our community the historic dignity it deserves,” commented Navarro. 

An additional highlight is Outfest Fusion’s Rising Stars panel, a roundtable discussion with five immensely talented actors from the QTBIPOC community whose careers are poised for major success. The pre-recorded panel, moderated by Out magazine’s Editor in Chief David Artavia, will be available free of charge on the Outfest Now streaming platform and will include Harvey Guillén (who recently made history as the first queer Latinx actor to be nominated for a Critics Choice award in his category for his role in FX’s What We Do in the Shadows); Tony nominee and breakout star of Search Party Season 4 Shalita Grant; Vida cast member Vico Ortiz, soon to be seen on season 2 of Freeform’s Everything’s Gonna Be Okay; Star Trek: Discovery’s Ian Alexander, the first out trans actor to be cast in the franchise’s history; and actor and comedian Sherry Cola, who stars on Freeform’s Good Trouble.

In addition to these honorees, Outfest Fusion will also present a variety of panels and workshops, live and pre-recorded, for filmmakers and the general public to attend throughout the five-day festival. Additional guests and panels, including ones curated by some of the amazing community partners that Outfest Fusion has, will be announced later on the website.  All of the panels will be available free starting April 17th at 6 am PDT. See below for a complete breakdown of the current program and its participants:

PERFORMANCE

April 16:  6 PM PDT | Outfest Fusion Opening Night Poetry Showcase

  • Join us as we celebrate the start of this year’s festival with a virtual poetry showcase that is sure to be uplifting with its theme of joy. 
  • Master of Ceremonies: féi hernandez
  • Appearances by: Yosimar Reyes, Tyris Winter, Bella BAHHS, jade Phoenix

 

WORKSHOPS

April 15:  4 PM PDT | HOW TO MAKE A MOVIE ON YOUR SMARTPHONE WITH LAUREN NEAL

  • Have a story to tell but don’t know where to start? Come learn tools and techniques in this crash course on how to make high-quality short films using what you already have. Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival’s 2020 One Minute Movie Contest winner Lauren Neal will give you expert techniques and tricks for how  to put your ideas in front of the camera. You will leave inspired and ready to create your own film!

April 16:  1 PM PDT | STRETCH THAT BUCK: FILM BUDGETING 101 WITH SEED&SPARK

  • How much should you crowdfund for? As much as you need to move your project forward! In this workshop, we’ll teach you how to build a budget, utilize loans to make up your budget (conceptually as well as literally), navigate the ask, break down your script, and get creative with ways to cut costs without sacrificing your vision. 

 

April 17:  1 PM PDT | EARLY CAREER NETWORKING SESSION 

  • A film or TV set is filled with numerous roles, from gaffers to hair stylists to colorists, but there is not always clarity on how to get these roles. During this workshop, you will hear from established industry members about how they got into their fields and what their jobs are really like. Film professionals of all levels are encouraged to attend. Participants will include Barbie Leung, Cinematographer and Camera Department (Hysterical); Jason Orion, Hair Department (Moxie); Marc Kelly, 1st Assistant Director (Summertime); Cheyenne Ford, Art Department (Shiva Baby).

 

April 18:  3 PM PDT | DOCUMENTARY 101: A GUIDE TO NON-FICTION FILMMAKING WITH PJ RAVAL

  • Whether a first-time documentarian or a veteran truth seeker, we all could use some help along the way. PJ Raval (Call Her Ganda, Before You Know It) shares his personal journey to creating powerful documentaries and the resources he’s used to get his ideas onto the screen.

 

April 19: 1 PM PDT | CROWDFUNDING TO BUILD INDEPENDENCE WITH SEED&SPARK

  • Most people think about crowdfunding simply as a fundraising tool, but we’re going to show you how it’s so much more than that. Discover how to have a successful crowdfunding campaign… and career! You’ll learn how to find your audience, structure your crowdfunding campaign, pick the right goal and incentives, and more.

 

April 19: 3 PM PDT | PRODUCING A PODCAST WITH DOMINO SOUND

  • Starting a podcast can seem arduous with not a lot of clarity on where to start. What type of podcast should it be? What gear should you buy? What gear can you afford? Where should you record? All of these questions and more will be answered in this helpful workshop designed to get you started on your podcasting journey with Kenya Denise and Alexandra di Palma from Domino Sound!

 

April 20:  6 PM PDT | HOW TO CRAFT THE PERFECT PITCH WITH DAVID SIGURANI

  • Discover the best way to present your project in order to hook a producer, actor, or executive. Having developed and sat through way too many pitches, queer Latinx producer and creative executive David Sigurani will work you through the elements of an undeniable story pitch. From your story’s world, theme, and tone to your beats and characters, stir up all the necessary ingredients to establish why you should be the one to make the next hit film or TV series! Participants in this workshop are encouraged to prepare a three minute pitch of their current project for potential feedback.

 

PANELS

OUTFEST FUSION’S RISING STARS

If you don’t know them yet, you will soon. For the second year in a row, Outfest Fusion gathers some of the most exciting up-and-coming QTBIPOC acting talent for a probing discussion about the state of their industry, their individual pathways to success, and their advice to young hopefuls seeking to follow in their footsteps. Despite the hard road any aspiring actor faces on their way up, and despite the past year of uncertainty, these rising stars all continue to turn out inspiring work. Tune in to hear how they made it happen! Moderated by  David Artavia, Editor in Chief of Out, panelists includeIan Alexander (Star Trek: Discovery), Sherry Cola (Good Trouble), Shalita Grant (Search Party; You), Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows), and Vico Ortiz (Vida).

 

AARP FIRESIDE CHAT

Stars shine brightly, no matter their age. A conversation on longevity in a youth centric business. Where a change of scenery can change the trajectory of a career and where persistence can prevail in the high-speed industry that is Hollywood. A conversation about aging, work and film.

  • In Conversation: Doug Spearman (Noah’s Arc, Star Trek Voyager)

 

APRIL 18: 11 AM PDT |  YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE: LGBTQIA+ IMMIGRATION & ASYLUM SEEKERS

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, there are an estimated 289,700 undocumented people in the United States who identify as LGBTQ+, facing unique barriers compounded by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Reflected in Outfest Fusion 2021 feature films NOWHERE and CAUGHT, from navigating complications of love and career when your legal status hangs in the balance to defending your rights in the midst of transphobic violence, trafficking, sex work, and persecution, it is clear that the promise etched onto the Statue of Liberty to welcome the huddled masses doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

Join these filmmakers along with experts in the field for an urgent and frank discussion where we will tackle the issues facing queer and trans immigrants and asylum-seekers — from perspectives of policy, legal protections, and mental health — sharing experiences and resources in a safe and supportive space.” 

BUILDING A BETTER NORMAL: A MEDIA ROUNDTABLE

  • The only constant is change, but how do we ensure that the change that is coming is inclusive and equitable? As the world navigates the changing media landscape, questions of what gets covered and who has access to coverage are front and center as a new normal is defined. This discussion will address the current system and look at ways to improve the space of media journalism. 
  • Participants: 
    • Marissa Wallace, VP, BPRS-LA; Director of Multicultural Communications, Rogers & Cowan PMK
    • Stephen Macias, EVP, Multicultural Marketing & Communications, Rogers & Cowan PMK 
    • Latashia DeVeaux, President, BPRS-LA; Talent Relations Consultant, BET Networks
    • Valerie Complex, freelance writer; Bylines: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Collider, Conde Nast, Harper’s Bazaar and many others
    • Beandrea July, freelance writer; Bylines: The Hollywood Reporter, New York Times, NPR, Time, Parade, Level, Cherrypicks, Hyperallergic and many others

Complete programming for the festival is updated at OutfestFusion.com. Outfest Fusion 2021 is presented by Comcast NBCUniversal and exclusive automotive partner Hyundai. Premiere Sponsors include AARP, The Fight Magazine, Gilead, LA Times, Rainbow Media Co., and Variety. 

Outfest Fusion showcases the work of queer and trans filmmakers of color, providing the audiences and storytellers alike with the critical visibility that is needed to build careers, opportunities, and empathy for our stories.  Beyond authentically connecting the industry and the public to so many of our community’s underrepresented artists, Outfest Fusion also provides educational workshops, panels, networking events, and the renowned One Minute Movie Contest.

Founded in 2004 amongst a circle of community organizers and Outfest Board Members, the Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival is a response to the need for more inclusive spaces where storytellers and filmmakers of color could receive the opportunities and the visibility they struggle to find for themselves and their work. To date, Outfest Fusion has showcased over 10,000 works to nearly 250,000 audience members and impacted over 2,500 storytellers and up and coming industry members with its Fusion workshops, contests, and events. 

The Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival educational and mentor-driven programming provides the tools for queer and trans people of color to create content and tell their own stories. Outfest Fusion also hosts the Outfest InFusion Studio summit in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal, which will take place this summer. Outfest Fusion alumni and filmmakers who attend engage with studio-partner speakers, participate in panels and workshops forging connections and nurturing relationships between emerging LGBTQIA+ filmmakers of color and established studios. 

ABOUT OUTFEST FUSION QTBIPOC FILM FESTIVAL 

The Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Film Festival curates and exhibits films, and other cultural and creative expressions from QTBIPOC creators that range from seasoned vets to exciting new voices. Founded in 2004 amongst a circle of community organizers and Outfest Board Members, the Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival is a response to the need for more inclusive spaces where storytellers and filmmakers of color could receive the opportunities and the visibility they struggle to find for themselves and their work. Diverse LGBTQIA+ audiences, from regional to international, were also finding a lack of inclusive spaces and celebrations that featured expertly curated and exhibited films, stories and art that reflected the unique lives of themselves. To date Outfest Fusion has showcased over 10,000 works to nearly 250k audiences and impacted over 2500 community members and industry career climbers with its Fusion workshops and events.

 

PRESS CONTACTS: PR DEPT

Chet Mehta – [email protected], C: 323-449-2438

Elliott Desai – [email protected], C: 952-688-1636 

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