A flamboyant talk show host, a recently homeless trans man and a couple fighting about kids are among the characters whose stories were told at the recent NewFilmmakers Los Angeles InFocus: LGBTQ+ Cinema program.

NFMLA hosts its June Monthly Film Festival wholly dedicated to its celebration of LGBTQ+ cinema. The day consisted of three InFocus: LGBTQ+ shorts programs showcasing a diverse range of exciting work from emerging LGBTQ+ creators whose films have screened at a variety of festivals and will take you on a journey. The day featured three blocks of shorts about living life out loud, centering queer joy, and building a true home.

NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year, across both our general and InFocus programming. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects for consideration for upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the schedule for InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion and region by spotlighting communities of filmmakers within our filmmaking community as part of our monthly program. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“After Sunset, Dawn Arrives” directed and written by Andy Yi Li

About Andy: Andy is a filmmaker born and raised in Sichuan, China. She aspires to tell untold stories on screen and experiment with bold and visual language. Her script and directing work delves into themes like searching for one’s self-identity, which relates to complex sexuality and mental states of every human being, as well as subcultures such as underground art forms and rural humanities, unresolved love, and loneliness.

About “After Sunset, Dawn Arrives’ ‘: Wan, a 65-year-old widowed Chinese man, used to sneak into an underground ballroom place in old Chinatown called Lai Lai and peep through the curtain. One day, a young man, Ken, catches Wan’s attention at a bathhouse.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Andy Yi Li director and writer of “After Sunset, Dawn Arrives”:

Instagram: @andy_strawberry_li 

“A Spell For Queer Home” directed, written and produced by Amanda Madden

About Amanda: Amanda Madden’s work experiments with queer evolutions of intimacy, identity, landscape, and connection. They are rooted in their commitment to creating films and experiences as portals for breaking binaries, embodied experience, and a way to see and be seen. Their directing work includes award winners such as the TV pilot Mercy Mistress and the documentary projects Home Abyss and Dear Elsa: 10 Letters + 10 Experiments. Their editing work includes narrative, documentary, and experimental films, commercial projects for MTV, Refinery29, Condé Nast, and NBC Universal, and the feature documentary, Roleplay. Their work has been exhibited internationally. They hold an MFA in Nonfiction Media from Hunter College. 

About “A Spell For Queer Home”: A spell to conjure a sense of queer home for the filmmaker, their community and the collective — to know that we are enough, that we were never meant to do this alone, that queer home is possible, radical, and happening.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Amanda Madden director, writer, and producer of “ A Spell For Queer Home”:

Facebook: @amandawithamoviecamera  

“Encuerados” directed by Orlando Bedolla

About Orlando: Orlando Bedolla is a filmmaker working to create LGBTQ content. He produced and directed two short documentaries: Preserving LGBT History (a history of the ONE Archives) and Coming Out: The LGBT Cultural Revolution Before Stonewall (about LGBTQ activism in Los Angeles before Stonewall). Orlando Interned at GLAAD, where he wrote and directed a PSA that caught national attention and was featured in the Spanish language national TV show Despierta America. He worked as a production coordinator for the Ellen Show and as a creative marketing production manager for Disney+. 

About “Encuerados”: A chronicle of nine Latino men in the leather scene, primarily focusing on the historical attainment of the first Latino man winning the title of Mr. Los Angeles Leather, Leo Iriarte. By showcasing the legacy of Leo, “Encuerados” takes a deep dive into the leadership of nine trailblazers, empowered to create representation in leather competitions. The film issues a call to action to destigmatize preconceived notions of Latino machismo, kink and fetishes, while building community and representation for the leather Latino community to thrive.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Orlando Bedolla director of “Encuerados”:

Twitter: @bedoy102

IG:  @bedoy102

“Look Like You” directed and written by Snigdha Kapoor

About Snigdha: Snigdha is a U.S.-based Indian filmmaker. Focusing on social impact stories, her work explores themes of the gender spectrum, women and children. Her works have been selected at ScreenCraft, Outfest Fusion, ShortShorts, HollyShorts, Shorts TV, Delhi Art Gallery of New York, Oyster Magazine, and the Chilean Film Catalog, to name a few. She is developing her first feature, an adaptation of “Look Like You.” Her upcoming short, “Holy Curse,” set in traditional middle-class India, is a coming-of-age dramedy from a gender-nonconforming child’s perspective.

About “Look Like You”: Tara visits the adoptive family of her eight-year-old biological son, who is experiencing othering for being “different” than his white parents. After the initial hesitation of the adoptive family, she realizes that by relaying her experiences as a brown and queer outcast, she can help him navigate his own identity. 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Snigdha Kapoor, director and writer of “Look Like You”:

Twitter: @snigdhakapoor20 

IG: @kapoorsnig 

“Mal de Amores (Lovesick)” directed and written by Fiorella Vescovi Garcia

About Fiorella: Fiorella Vescovi Garcia is a Los Angeles-based Latinx writer, director, and actor from Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2020, Fiorella was chosen to join the Women in Film mentee program as a writer/director. Fiorella’s short film script, “Mal de Amores,” is semi-autobiographical and a proof of concept for an LGBTQ+ TV series. Fiorella has been selected as a participant of the 2022 Hola Mexico Film Festival’s Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today program, sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery and the HFPA. Fiorella was also a recipient of the Inside Out RE:Focus Fund,  a post-production grant by the Inside Out Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival.

About “Mal de Amores”: Natalia “Nat” Barbieri just discovered that her ex-girlfriend Tara is engaged to a douchey, rich, European playboy. She goes to her friends Bea and Lucia for support, but they’ve had enough of her pity party and call her out on her obsession. Feeling lost and alone, Nat hooks up with Noel, a woman she meets at the bar, but it doesn’t help. Soon she discovers what she needs to fix in her life.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Fiorella Vescovi Garcia director and writer of “Mal de Amores”:

IG: @fiorellavescovi 

“Next of Kin” directed, written, and produced by Timothy Guion Smith

About Timothy: Although Los Angeles is his current home, his real home will always be NYC. Timothy received his BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch. His previous actor credits include new media series and short films that have played at film festivals, Incitation to Dance at Theatre West in LA and originating the role of Toddy in the then-Broadway bound musical Amazing Grace

About “Next of Kin”: Three friends unwind after a night out. When one initiates a threesome, another is startled and rejects his friend over for his HIV status. A journey toward healing begins.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Timothy Guion Smith, director, writer and producer of “Next of Kin”:

IG: @MrTimmyJaySmith 

“Piercing” directed and written by Nathaniel Gualtieri

About Nathaniel: Nate Gualtieri (he/they) is a transmasculine writer and director from the suburbs of Boston. He most recently worked as a staff writer on the CW series Gotham Knights and is a writing fellow with Film Independent’s Project Involve 2023. Nate is also credited as the co-writer of Desire Lines, a semi-scripted documentary film by director Jules Rosskam. They are a graduate of the USC screenwriting program and began their career as a writers’ assistant and script coordinator for streaming drama series including Tiny Pretty Things and The Morning Show. Nate is passionate about finding big stakes in small stories.

About “Piercing”: Through a piercing, a punching bag and a fistfight, Adrian comes to nurse his literal and figurative wounds.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Nathaniel Gualtieri, director and writer of “Piercing”:

Twitter: @boywithaperiod 

IG: @nategualtieri

“Regret To Inform You” directed, written, and produced by Yusuf Nasir

About Yusuf Nasir: Yusuf’s love for dance and art is infectious and can be felt far and wide. His career spans film, television, and stage as a dancer, horeographer, and director. His credits include Euphoria, The Masked Singer, Prom, Spongebob Squarepants 3, The L Word reboot and The Greatest Showman, and he has worked with artists including Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Wayne Brady, Neil Patrick Harris and Kylie Minogue, and for brands such as Ford, Samsung and Fiat. 

About “Regret To Inform You”: The film follows a contentious day in the life of a struggling and aging male performer on the verge of forced retirement and obscurity, who spirals into a riveting dance fantasy that allows him his full expression, while serving comfort and refuge from a world and society that holds no place for him. 

Watch the NFMLA interview with Yusuf Nasir, director, writer, and producer of “Regret To Inform You”:

“Sound to Sea” directed, written, and produced by Ryan Craver

About Ryan: Ryan Craver is a filmmaker who draws from the deep well of his Southern upbringing and the irreverent, experimental legacy of queer cinema to inspire new notions of the American family. His feature projects and short films have received support from the Tribeca Film Institute, SFFILM, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists. Ryan is currently developing his first short “Truck Slut” (Best Emerging Filmmaker special mention at the 2019 Palm Springs ShortFest) as a TV series with S/B Films and programming narrative features for the New Orleans Film Festival. 

About “Sound to Sea”: Leo, a shy eighth grader at the cusp of understanding their trans identity, pursues a crush on a boy bunkmate, but is plagued by a frog. Meanwhile, Leo’s eager, gay teacher-in-training Brad tries to connect with his students, but oversteps boundaries in the eyes of a coworker. It is only in nature, among marshes and maritime forests, that Leo and Brad find an unspoken connection.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Ryan Craver, director, writer and producer of “Sound to Sea”: 

“Spare Change” directed, written, and produced by Jesse Randall

About Jesse: Jesse Randall is a writer, director, & producer based in Los Angeles. Their work primarily focuses on creating LGBTQIA+ content through their company, JR VISION FILMS. Their films have over 20 distribution deals including Plex TV, Revry TV, Mometu, and more. Their digital series, The Safety Plan, was nominated for “Best New Media” at the 2021 NFMLA Awards and their last film, “Shadow Self,” was nominated for “Best New Media”at the 2022 NFMLA Awards. Their most recent film about the homeless crisis in Los Angeles, “Spare Change,” made its world premiere at Outfest Fusion in March 2023. Jesse Randall is currently developing “Spare Change” into a television series, and developing their first feature film. 

About “Spare Change”: After being thrown out by his parents, a young homeless transman endures the treacherous journey of surviving the gritty streets of Los Angeles until he’s able to get on his feet again, and finally getting housed against all odds. Emmett learns the true meaning of family after an unhoused woman living on the streets for 16 years, Marge, shows him the ropes and welcomes him into her “army” of unhoused neighbors she’s assembled.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Jesse Randall director, writer, and producer of “Spare Change”:

IG: @jrvisionfilms

“The Delusion of Pisces” directed by Andres Orlando Orellana

About Andres: Andrés Orellana is a first-generation digital storyteller. Born in Los Angeles, Andrés comes from humble beginnings as the son of two Salvadoran immigrants fleeing the Civil War. As a recent graduate of The New School in New York City, they studied Journalism, Design, and Film Production. During undergrad, they interned for multiple media companies ranging from the prestigious Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn to daytime’s No. 1 talk show, Live with Kelly and Ryan. Currently, Andrés is the assistant video editor at the Los Angeles Times Studios. Recently, Andrés edited two shorts, “Fish” and “The Delusion of Pisces.” Their life passion is collaborating with Black and brown creatives to create meaningful art. 

About “The Delusion of Pisces”: Taking place in the Latinx enclave of Los Angeles, hopeless romantic Carlos asks his boyfriend, Tyler if he wants kids but he receives a flat-out no. Upset about his relationship ending, his best friend Amal attempts to uplift his spirits by inviting him to the party of the night. Upon arrival, a mysterious person sticks out of the crowd altering Carlos’ perspective.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Andres Orlando Orellana director of “The Delusion of Pisces”:

“To Ken With Love” directed, written, and produced by Mike Talplacido

About Mike: Mike Talplacido is a podcast host, writer, producer, actor and director. His podcast is called “Kiss My Mike,” and it’s primarily focused on topics related to LGBTQIA+ issues, AAPI advocacy, increasing Filipino/x visibility in Entertainment, and uplifting other creatives. In 2021, Mike published his first book, also called “Kiss My Mike,” a memoir about navigating sexuality and racial identity. Mike’s film credits include The Perfect Couple (Writer/Executive Producer), Velvet Sky (Executive Producer) and To Ken with Love (Writer/Actor/Director).

About “To Ken With Love”: To Ken with Love is a story about Ken Jones, a flamboyant talk show host who relishes being the “whitest gaysian ever” and takes pride in being “the only Asian in the room.”

However, underneath Ken’s colorful persona lies a true case of internalized racism. So, not only does Ken not see himself as Asian, but he also hates it and tries to stay away from it as much as he can, and the one thing that he really wanted is to be accepted and validated by white people.

Ken’s perfectly curated world of glitz and glamour is suddenly rocked by a work incident involving his boss Freddy, a network TV executive who calls Ken his “favorite gaysian,” along with the arrival of a young Filipino-American intern named Marikit, whose presence will play a key role in Ken’s journey, and the re-appearance of Ken’s mother, whom Ken had not seen in twenty years.

Soon, Ken must deal with the toxic tokenism at work and carve a path towards embracing his roots and identity.

Will Ken find his way back to finding out who he is?

To Ken with Love is a story about family, relationships, and the journey towards finding one’s true authentic self.

Watch the NFMLA interview with Mike Talplacido, director, writer, and producer of “To Ken With Love” :

Twitter: @kissmymike_official

IG: @kissmymike_official

Main image: “Look Like You” directed and written by Snigdha Kapoor