See other worlds, other lives at OUTwatch Film Festival in Sebastopol

With so many ways to see movies now, whether you subscribe to a streaming service on your home screen or access them on your phone, there’s still no guarantee that you can see the films you want to watch, when and where you want to watch them.

“We’ve seen a decline in independent and foreign films making it to local theaters,” said Gary Carnivelle, co-?producer of this weekend’s OUTwatch Film Festival in Sebastopol. “The huge-budget films coming out of Hollywood dominate the theaters.”

For seven years, OUTwatch has brought to Sonoma County high-quality films by, for and about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex community.

“You rarely see films with an LGBTQI theme in local theaters,” Carnivelle added. “We’re really quite lucky in the North Bay.”

This year’s OUTwatch - produced by Carnivelle, Shad Reinstein and Jody Laine - will present eight new films, all produced this year, at the Rialto Cinemas over three days: Friday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 6. The lineup includes two documentaries as well as a bilingual American film and one movie each from India and Spain. Most of the weekend’s entries have won awards at other festivals.

“We go to other festivals to look for films,” Carnivelle said. “Every year, we go to Frameline in San Francisco, which is the largest LGBTQI film festival in the world. Everything is there. It’s amazing how many films they have.”

OUTwatch also draws its candidates from films shown at LGBTQI festivals in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and New York, he said. This year’s roster includes “The Infiltrators,” which won two awards at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

The films also include two directorial debuts, by actor Mike Doyle, with “Sell By,” and by Swarnavel Eswaran, with “Kattumaram,” made in India.

“‘Kattumaram’ is a first for that part of the world,” Carnivelle said. “South India is still quite conservative.”

That film and some of the other movies in the festival deal with prejudice and hardships faced by others around the nation and the globe, he said.

“We live in a nice bubble here in the North Bay, but we don’t forget our LGBTQI family around the world,” Carnivelle said.

Support for OUTwatch is strong in Sonoma County, with 1,800 people attending last year’s event. Earlier this year, the festival also launched a monthly film series at the Rialto, which ran from March to September.

“We have built an audience,” Carnivelle said.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of this year’s festival schedule:

“Gay Chorus Deep South,” documentary directed by David Charles Rodrigues, 98 minutes, 2019, USA. In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South.

Led by Gay Chorus Conductor Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Language: English. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4.

“The End of the Century,” directed by Lucio Castro, 84 minutes, 2019, Spain. This film follows “a dreamy, unhurried unfolding of love and destiny” between two men who encounter each other in Barcelona only to realize that they had met ?20 years earlier. Language: Spanish with English subtitles. Noon Saturday, Oct. 5.

“Kattumaram,” directed by Swarnavel Eswaran, 73 minutes, 2019, India. Survivors seek ways to go on in a small South Indian fishing village after a devastating tsunami. Singaram finds himself responsible for his orphaned niece Anandhi and nephew Mani.

Anandhi finds herself drawn to the new photography teacher at school, Kavita, who has also experienced loss in the death of her lesbian partner. The director makes his feature film debut. Language: Tamil with English subtitles. 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5.

“Sell By,” directed by Mike Doyle, 94 minutes, 2019, USA. Doyle, an actor, makes his feature directorial debut with this modern-day romantic comedy about six friends trying to balance their relationships and careers in New York City. Language: English. 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5.

“More Beautiful for Having Been Broken,” directed by Nicole Conn, 111 minutes, 2019, USA. When FBI agent McKenzie (known to her friends as “Max”) returns to the picturesque Northern California lakeside community she once visited as a child, she gets to know 7-year-old Freddie and his melancholy and protective single mother, Samantha. Language: English. 7:30 Saturday, Oct. 5.

“Snapshots,” directed by Melanie Mayron, 94 minutes, 2019, USA. Three generations of women come together for a weekend at the family’s lakeside home, both new and long-held secrets come to the surface. The cast includes Brooke Adams and three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie. Language: English. ?1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.

“Changing the Game,” documentary directed by Michael Bennett, 95 minutes, 2019, USA. This film follows the lives of three high school athletes, all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives and unique paths as transgender teens. Language: English. 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.

“The Infiltrators,” directed by Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera, 95 minutes, 2019, USA. A crew of undocumented youth activists willingly hand themselves over to the Florida Border Patrol.

While locked up inside the crowded for-profit Broward Transitional Center, they attempt to hatch their plan to free the detainees, and themselves, before being deported. Benefit for Queer Asylum Accompaniment, assisting LGBTQ asylum seekers find sanctuary in Sonoma County. Language: English and Spanish with English subtitles. 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or On Twitter @danarts

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