May 13

Interview with FilmOut’s Program Director, Michael McQuiggan

by Tiffany Froese

FilmOut has been an SDIFF community partner for years and this year they celebrate their 19th year of bringing LGBT-themed films to San Diego June 9 – 11. Our Associate Executive Director, Diana Agostini, interviewed their Program Director, Michael McQuiggan about this year’s festival.  This is what he had to say.

Festival Poster #2


DA: Michael, we’ve watched FilmOut grow into an amazing, beloved and rich festival that partners with a lot of other festivals. What were some of your biggest challenges in your early years?

MM: The biggest challenges are still, by and far, securing a venue and
locking down sponsors. Since we have gone from seven days, down to
five days, and now finally down to a three day streamlined film
festival, film selection can be a daunting endeavour because we have to turn many films away. Fortunately, we do a screening series several
times a year, like you do at SDIFF, and we sometimes program some of those gems in those slots.

DA: We know there’s a lot of buzz for all of your opening night films and parties.  This June 9, what’s the buzz about?

MM: The buzz right now is absolutely nuts over our Opening Night Film – The exclusive San Diego Premiere of ” A Very Sordid Wedding,” which is the sequel to Del Shores cult classic comedy “Sordid Lives.” Del and most of the entire cast will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening. And then the After Party is across the street from the
Observatory North Park theatre at the Sunset Temple – which will
include 14 local San Diego restaurants providing food and alcohol
provided by Smirnoff and Stella Artois. You get the film and party for
only $45.00. Tickets are going FAST and it will definitely sell out!

DA: While every film you put into your festival is carefully chosen, do you have one that’s your favorite this year?

MM: Well, as Program Director I love them all of course, but besides all 6 of our Spotlight Films, I really am drawn to “Pushing Dead” “A Million Happy Now” and the “FrightOut” Short tract. “Pushing Dead” is being billed as “An AIDS comedy” and I have to tell you, it is hilarious on one hand and socially relevant on the other – plus the casting is perfection. “A Million Happy Nows” stars a lot of actors from daytime serials – with outstanding performances by the two leads. And it’s theme on early onset Alzheimer’s is extremely poignant and quite touching. “FrightOut” shorts are something new to FilmOut. I simply had to include them, so this is a first. And Beth Accomando/Cinema Junkie/KPBS, Miguel Rodriguez/Horrible Imaginings, Tim Rawles/iHorror are all Co-Presenters and will help spread the word for this untypical FilmOut tract series.

DA: Can you tell us a little about how you handle your open call film submissions? How it works in your festival, how many you’ll show, and how many are independent productions? Do you see this as an important trend for film festivals?

MM: Most all of our submissions are submitted via FilmFreeway. This seems to be the trend now. There are others, but we have decided to be exclusive with FilmFreeway since they care about filmmakers and film festival programmers. We also get film submissions directly to our website – which is fine too. We will screen roughly 40 films at this
years 19th LGBT film festival. We received over 500 submissions. All
of the films are independents. Some of the films that are of LGBT
themes that play at Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca get picked up for
distribution and can be difficult to secure for film festivals. But
good for them for getting a platform release.

DA: How do you deal with productions from outside the U.S.? How do you learn about films you might like to use in the international market? Have you shown Italian films & do you see differences in how various countries approach stories we can relate to?

MM: It’s pretty easy, my team and I are always looking at the
International film scene – whether direct from foreign distributors,
other film festivals or social media. Yes, we have screened films from
Italy. This year we received six submissions from Italy. We almost
screened a film short called Il Buio, starring Franco Nero, which
dealt with gay bashing and homelessness, but it was too long for a
short and hard to place within a short tract and prior to a feature

DA: FilmOut produces a year-round schedule of events; how can we learn more about FilmOut and support it?

MM: Our next monthly screening will take place on July 12th at Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas. It is part of Pride week and Pride is the
co-presenter. The film is the 1939 classic, “The Women.” Starring Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Norma Shearer and Joan Fontaine. All info regarding FilmOut is at www.filmoutsandiego. com. And you can follow us on Facebook as FilmOut San Diego and Twitter as FilmOutSD.


  • Posted Under: Blog
  • Post created on: May 13th, 2017