NAACP Image Award winner Michaela Coel and Academy Award nominee Andra Day will be honored at the five-day 2021 Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival next week.
Coel, known best for creating and starring in “Chewing Gum” and “I May Destroy You,” will be acknowledged with the Fusion Achievement Award; Day, the star of Lee Daniels’ biopic “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” will be presented with the James Schamus Ally Award.
“Coel’s work in ‘Chewing Gum,’ ‘I May Destroy You,’ and more portrays 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, in a statement.
Past recipients of the Fusion Achievement Award include Nisha Ganatra, Angela Robinson, Rose Troche, Wilson Cruz, Alec Mapa, Patrik-Ian Polk, Cheryl Dunye, Brickson Diamond and Rikki Beadle-Blair.
“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,” Navarro said.
Day, who has been a longtime supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community, will be recognized as a great ally at the festival for her song “Rise Up,” which has been embraced as an anthem for the community’s struggles and victories, as well as her portrayal of jazz and swing icon Billie Holiday.
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 for free starting April 17 at 6 a.m. PT. One highlight is Outfest Fusion’s Rising Stars panel, moderated by Out magazine’s editor-in-chief David Artavia and featuring Harvey Guillén (“What We Do in the Shadows”), Shalita Grant (“Search Party”), Vico Ortiz (“Vida”), Ian Alexander (“Star Trek: Discovery”) and Sherry Cola (“Good Trouble”).
Other panels include an AARP fireside chat on longevity in the youth-centric and high-speed business of Hollywood, and a media roundtable on building a “better normal” post-pandemic. The discussion on how to improve the changing media journalism landscape will be led by Marissa Wallace, vice president, BPRS-LA and director of multicultural communications, Rogers & Cowan PMK; Stephen Macias, executive vice president, multicultural marketing and communications, Rogers & Cowan PMK; Latashia DeVeaux, president, BPRS-LA and talent relations consultant, BET Networks; and freelance writers Valerie Complex and Beandrea July.
See below for a breakdown of the current program and its participants. Additional guests and panels will be announced later on the website.
April 15: 4 p.m. PT | How to Make a Movie on Your Smartphone with Lauren Neal – A crash course on how to make high-quality short films using what you already have with Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival’s 2020 One Minute Movie contest winner.
April 16: 1 p.m. PT | Stretch that Buck: Film Budgeting 1010 with Seed&Spark – Learn how to build a budget, utilize loans to make up your budget, navigate the ask, break down your script, and get creative with ways to cut costs without sacrificing vision.
April 16: 6 p.m. PT | Outfest Fusion Opening Night Poetry Showcase – A virtual poetry kickoff led by Master of Ceremonies Féi Hernandez, with appearances by Yosimar Reyes, Tyris Winter, Bella BAHHS and Jade Phoenix.
April 17: 1 p.m. PT | Early Career Networking Session – Hear from established industry members in cinematography, HMUA, art and more, about how they got into their fields and what their jobs are like on film and TV sets, featuring Barbie Leung (“Hysterical”), Jason Orion (“Moxie”), Marc Kelly (“Summertime”) and Cheyenne Ford (“Shiva Baby”).
April 18: 11 a.m. PT | Yearning to Breathe Free: LGBTQIA+ Immigration & Asylum Seekers – Join the filmmakers of Outfest Fusion 2021’s feature films “Nowhere” and “Caught” along with experts in the field for a discussion on tackling the issues facing queer and trans immigrants and asylum-seekers from the perspective of policy, legal protections and mental health in a safe and supportive space.
April 18: 3 p.m. PT | Documentary 101: A Guide to Non-Fiction Filmmaking with PJ Raval – Raval (“Call Her Ganda,” “Before You Know It”) shares his personal experience in creating powerful documentaries and the resources he used to get his ideas onto the screen.
April 19: 1 p.m. PT | Crowdfunding to Build Independence with Seed&Spark – Learn how to find your audience for your crowdfunding campaign and how to structure it, as well as picking the right goal, incentives and more.
April 19: 3 p.m. PT | Producing a Podcast with Domino Sound – A helpful podcasting beginners workshop with Kanya Denise and Alexandra di Palma from Domino Sound.
April 20: 6 p.m. PT | How to Craft the Perfect Pitch with David Sigurani – Queer Latinx producer and creative executive David Sigurani will work you through all of the necessary ingredients of an undeniable film or TV series pitch. Participants are encouraged to prepare a three-minute pitch of their current project for potential feedback.
Since its founding in 2004, Outfest Fusion has showcased more than 10,000 works by and for queer and trans people of color to nearly 250,000 audience members and has impacted 2,500 up-and-coming industry members with its workshops, contests and events. 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 and network with emerging LGBTQIA+ filmmakers of color and established studios.
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.