"Growing Up Coy" screens Sunday at 3 p.m.
“Growing Up Coy” screens Sunday at 3 p.m.

“My goal was to write a movie in which being gay was not the obstacle,” says Tim Kirkman, the writer, director and producer of “Lazy Eye,” a film featured at the sixth annual Louisville LGBT Film Festival. “The problems that are in ‘Lazy Eye’ — this could have been a straight couple.”

It’s a trend Kirkman says he’s seeing emerge at LGBT film festivals around the country. He links it to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage, a watershed moment for the LGBT community. “That’s why this movie exists,” he adds. “Because I have the luxury — the privilege — of having my federal rights.”

Tim Kirkman wrote, directed and produced "Lazy Eye," which screens Sunday at 6 p.m.
Tim Kirkman wrote, directed and produced “Lazy Eye,” which screens Sunday at 6 p.m.

Kirkman will be in town this weekend, Oct. 14-16, when a variety of LGBT films make their Louisville debut. He believes LGBT films and festivals are changing.

“Now we can grow up a bit as queer artists and queer festivals, moving past all the stories of coming out … and I’ve made some of those movies,” he says. “But I feel like it’s time for us to grow.”

Kirkman’s observations could almost serve as a mission statement for the Louisville LGBT Film Festival, which will tell a diverse range of stories beginning Friday, from a documentary about Madonna’s backup dancers to a tense and sexy thriller set in west Hollywood.

The festival runs three days and is broken up into six sessions — one Friday night, three on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Travis Myles, chairman of the festival’s board and a member of the selection committee, spoke with Insider about this year’s lineup and the diversity of the offerings, both in terms of storytelling and of the festivals ongoing goal to make sure all members of the LGBT community are represented.

“(We’re) trying as much as possible to have representatives from the L, B and T part,” says Myles.

A scene from "Strike a Pose," which screens Friday at 8 p.m.
A scene from “Strike a Pose,” which screens Friday at 8 p.m.

The festival kicks off with “Strike a Pose” (Friday, 8 p.m.), a documentary about several of Madonna’s backup dancers who were featured on the Blonde Ambition tour and in the film “Truth or Dare.”

“It’s telling the story of them in that process from their point of view, and also updating you on what’s been going on since then,” explains Myles. “I don’t want to give too much away, but (in) one part of the film, a couple of them weren’t out when all that celebrity was going on and were outed by the film, sort of against their wishes.”

It sounds like an intriguing story, and it’s worth noting that in the festival’s attempt to represent a diverse slice of LGBT life, they are hoping to showcase people of color. Several of the featured dancers in the film are gay men of color, and two of them — Luis Camacho and Carlton Wilborn — will be in town for the screening.

Myles says the session made completely of short films — which kicks off Saturday’s offerings at 3 p.m. — also showcases diversity. “It wasn’t planned going in, but a good number … happen to be about gender fluid (and) gender queer youth of color.” Two of the shorts this year are student films, which is “a cool aspect to bring that we don’t always get,” he adds.

A scene from "AWOL," which screens Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
A scene from “AWOL,” which screens Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Saturday also will feature “AWOL” (5:30 p.m.), the story of a small-town woman frustrated by small-town life and lack of opportunity. She considers joining the military to get out but meets a woman who may change her mind.

The big Saturday night show is “Kiss Me, Kill Me” (8 p.m.), a film that takes the tropes of the sex-charged thriller and hangs the story on a gay man. “It’s very cool,” says Myles. “Lots of time (gay thrillers) don’t translate well, but this one is really well done.” The film kept him guessing until the final frame.

Sunday’s session begins with “Growing Up Coy” (3 p.m.), another documentary. “That is a really great documentary, and it could not be more time sensitive, especially to be at our festival when it is,” says Myles. “It’s about a young transgender girl who’s having issues at school.”

The story follows the legal battle of Coy Mathis’ family and the struggle they endure after being thrust into a crisis and fighting for Coy’s rights. The director, Eric Juhola, also will be on hand for the festival.

The weekend finishes out with Kirkman’s film “Lazy Eye” at 6 p.m.

“It’s the story of the one that got away,” says Kirkman. “The one that is in everybody’s past. I feel like we all have that experience.”

lazyeyet_website-x650xIn addition to speaking about making LGBT films that move beyond coming-out stories, Kirkman spoke to the idea of making explicitly gay films. “I made this movie for an LGBT audience, and if they wanna bring their straight friends, and the straight friends happen to like it, fantastic. I think they will, because it’s a universal story.”

Regardless of whether the LGBT film oeuvre moves past coming-out stories or appeals to a straight audience because of the universality of the stories, this year’s selection is perhaps best summed up by a comment Myles made during his interview: “There are so many stories out there.”

There are so many stories — diverse and beautiful and scary and sexy and upsetting — and you can see some of them at this weekend’s Louisville LGBT Film Festival. Single-session tickets are $8, or you can get a weekend pass for $40. All films will be screened at Village 8 Theatres, 4014 Dutchmans Lane.

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Eli Keel
Eli Keel is “pretty much” a Louisville native. You may have seen him around town reading poetry, short stories, dancing or acting. He’s a passionate locavore, so you may have also seen him stuffing his face at one of Louisville’s amazing restaurants. When he isn’t too busy writing short stories, he blogs at amanwalksintoablog.wordpress.com.