The special weekend, previously known as Dayton LGBT Film Festival, runs through Sunday and will include seven feature-length films, nine shorts, speakers and special events.
Oliver felt it was important to have openly gay actors playing the gay characters in this movie. “I wanted that feeling of authenticity,” he says. Like many married folks, the two fathers depicted in the film have very different approaches to parenting.
Porter, who received the Tony Award for his portrayal of Lola in the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots” is also known for his roles in the television series “Pose.” In 2020, he was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Portraying Porter’s husband in “Our Son” is Welsh actor Luke Evans, who has been in a number of popular films including “Clash of the Titans,” “The Three Musketeers,” the “Fast & Furious” franchise and Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast. "
“You need some well-known actors to get an independent film financed,” says Oliver. “It says a lot about progress that these two stars were available and interested. I met Billy Porter on Zoom and he was excited to show a side of himself he hasn’t shown before, a more domestic and quiet side. He’s a trained actor and to see him in this drama is exciting to me and to him. He also wrote an original song for the movie.”
The story, according to Oliver, came from a personal place. Though he isn’t divorced, Oliver was a sperm donor to a lesbian couple and helped them raise two boys. “So making a film about two fathers raising a son was an opportunity for me to explore my feelings about being a parent,” he says. " I think this film is particularly timely now with attempts being made to erase queer people, to show us as predatory toward children. We felt we needed to show that queer families exist raising children and that we are human beings like anyone else trying to make their way in the world.”
Oliver hopes audiences take away a feeling of satisfaction of having seen a realistic portrayal of a certain experience of gay people. “Even though it’s a tear-jerker, “it ends on a hopeful note and the feeling that it’s possible to overcome our differences for the sake of something greater.”
Dayton native will introduce “Jess Plus None”
Heather Olt, who grew up in Oakwood, is serving as a producer of “Jess Plus None.” Accompanying her will be the film’s director/screenwriter Mandy Fabian.
The film has been called a celebration of love and friendship, a “Big Chill” with a modern vibe. “It’s about a group of college friends who come together for a friend’s wedding in the woods,” Olt explains. “The lead character, Jess, is the maid of honor. It’s an off-the-grid wedding and she is forced to confront her ex-girlfriend, all of her more successful college friends and every bad choice she’s made in her life so far.”
Olt says she wanted to produce a romantic comedy where the lead ends up happy and single at the end. “It’s one person’s self discovery about coming back to herself,” she explains. “Everyone can relate to someone in the film. We all have journeys, everyone feels they are the hot mess. Relationships aren’t perfect but friendships are strong enough to withstand that.”
Olt, who lives in Los Angeles, spent years doing theater in New York. She also did a national tour and appeared at the Victoria Theatre in the late ‘90s in a production of “Brigadoon.”
“I was living in New York and working and hit a wall,” she remembers. “I had always wanted to do film and I moved to Los Angeles on a whim. Now I do TV and film and still do some theater but many years ago I started producing stories that felt compelling to me and my partner and we started finding projects that were female-driven strong stories. "
She says a producer does everything you can’t afford to hire someone else to do. “We shot this during the pandemic; it takes place at a camp and we found a camp near Big Bear in California. All the producers cleaned out the camp and because of COVID, the whole cast and crew lived at the camp. It was an amazing experience. Everyone bonded. We’d have bonfires at night. It was a great way to make art.”
A committee effort
The festival committee, headed by Jonathan McNeal, is responsible for selecting the films that are being shown. McNeal, who manages The Neon, says this time around he expects audiences to clamor for tickets to the new Indigo Girls documentary, ”It’s Only Life After All,” which includes 40 years of home movies and raw film archive. One of his personal favorites is the French film,” Lie With Me,” the story of a celebrated novelist who travels to his hometown after more than 30 years away. There, he meets the son of his secret teenage love who is inquisitive for information on his now deceased father.
McNeal says he’s heartened to see some new, young faces on the committee in recent years. One of those is Kyra Howard who lives in the Miamisburg-West Carrollton area, “Being newly out, I wanted to immerse myself into more LGBTQ representation media,” she says. “I love film because it’s a way to keep imagination going into adulthood. I enjoy seeing the creativity people have and want to broadcast. Even seeing stories we don’t think much of being told. Films always find a way to help people bond and engage in great conversation.”
As a committee member, she explains, she was involved with watching the films and giving them ratings. “I watched at least two or three films each day, depending on whether the film was short or a full feature. Then we all came together to collectively decide on what movies would be best for the festival based on ratings. Now we are all in the process of spreading the word about the festival. For me, I mainly use social media.”
Among the films she’s excited to have audiences see: “MNM,” “Lie with Me,” “Golden Delicious” and “Fancy Dance.”
“What I enjoyed about participating is being able to experience the different stories of people through these films,” Howard says. The take-away? “Everyone is complex. We all know the stereotypes. I think these films will help audiences understand the diversity and differences in people’s stories.”
As for the festival name change, McNeal says for over two years he’s been feeling like the LGBT title has been too limiting and not inclusive enough for what the committee wants to achieve. “We want our name to embrace the entire community,” he says.” I want audiences to know that Dayton and The Neon are interested in providing a platform for all kinds of voices to be heard, and that people in the community can come together and know that there’s strength in numbers and strength in speaking truth in storytelling.”
HOW TO GO:
What: Out Here Dayton Film Fest (formerly Dayton LGBT Film Festival)
When: Friday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 15.
Where: The Neon movie theater, 130 East Fifth St., Dayton
Admission: Festival Pass: $65. Opening Night Ticket: $15. Single Tickets for Sat & Sun screenings: $9.
Free tickets are being offered for those in need who would like to attend.
- Opening Night Party: Heartsiq, Dayton’s Queer Art & Dance Party, takes place the second Friday each month at Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth Street. Your festival pass includes an “Opening Night” ticket, a drink and treat. It’s Friday the 13th, so this month’s theme is “Scream Queens.”
- Bill Oliver, director of “Our Son,” will do a Q&A after the 7:30 p.m. screening of the film on Friday evening.
- Aja Pilapil, director of photography for “(In)convenience,” will do a Q&A after “Top Drawer Shorts” at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
- Producer Heather Olt and director Mandy Fabian will participate in a Q&A after the 6 p.m. screening of their film, “Jess Plus None,” on Sunday.
- For more information: www.outheredayton.org
Friday, Oct. 13
“Our Son,” USA. With an all-star cast that includes Luke Evans, Billy Porter, Phylicia Rashad, Andrew Rannells, Robin Weigert and more, this is the story of family and parenthood as seen through the eyes of two men in the midst of a divorce - both of whom very much love their son.
Preceded by: “MNM,” USA, A portrait of chosen sisters - two emerging runway divas in the drag ballroom community.
Saturday, Oct. 14
Top Drawer Shorts
“Cousins,” USA. Two cousins born in separate countries reunite in Brooklyn over dinner when a run-in with an ex turns the night into a mission of revenge.
“AC Unit,” USA. Two best friends living in Brooklyn during the height of a heatwave encounter disaster when installing an AC unit.
“Dilating for Maximum Results,” USA. A black trans woman decides to hook up IRL with her online boyfriend.
“The Script,” USA. Explores the complicated relationship between trans and nonbinary communities and medical providers regarding gender affirming care.
“As You Are,” USA. When an interabled queer couple spends the night together for the first time, they navigate the power of loving someone else through healing their relationships with their own bodies.
“Diomysus,” UK. With interviews from the UK polyamory community (told with puppets), this film asks if we’re more open to taboo ideas.
“(In)convenience,” USA. An unexpected love story develops over a box of tampons between a mini-mart cashier and a guy in transition.
“Lie with Me,” France. A celebrated novelist travels to his hometown after more than 30 years away. There, he meets the son of his secret teenage love who is inquisitive for information on his now deceased father.
Preceded by: “L’ApprenanfinTe,” (The Learner), USA/France, An American college student takes French immersion classes in the process of finding herself abroad in Paris.
“It’s Only Life After All,” USA. Blending 40 years of home movies, raw film archive, and intimate present-day verité, a poignant reflection from Amy Ray & Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls – the iconic folk-rock duo. A timely look into the obstacles, activism, and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big.
“Glitter & Doom,” USA. In a fantastical summer romance musical told with the iconic hits of the Indigo Girls. The film is about a struggling musician who wears charisma as camouflage and a carefree kid about to run away with the circus who fall in love at first sight.
Sunday, Oct. 15
“Golden Delicious,” Canada. Everyone wants something from high school senior Jake: his father is pushing him to try out for the basketball team and his girlfriend wants to take their relationship to the next level. But it’s not until Aleks, an openly gay teen with a love for basketball, moves in across the street that Jake begins to struggle with his own desires.
Jess Plus None,” USA. A reluctant maid of honor must attend her best friend’s off-the-grid wedding in the woods, where she’s forced to confront her ex-girlfriend, all her more successful college friends, and every bad choice she’s made in her life so far.
“Fancy Dance,” USA. Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact.