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Out on Film launches a “virtual theater” for this year’s LGBTQ+ film festival

Out on Film Festival 2020
A still from the film Cicada

Courtesy of The Film Collaborative

When the late Atlanta playwright and arts activist Rebecca Ranson founded Out on Film in 1987, the annual LGBTQ festival struggled for years to find an audience. After it became an offshoot of the Atlanta Film Festival, both run for many years by IMAGE Film & Video, OOF screenings followed ATLFF’s almost as an afterthought.

“The organizers would breathe for a day and a half after the Atlanta Film Festival, then start working on Out on Film,” says Jim Farmer, OOF’s director since ATLFF relinquished control of the organization in 2008. “It’s hard for anyone to put together two film festivals in a year.”

Now an independent entity, Out on Film is one of the nation’s oldest LGBTQ+ festivals, one of the 10 largest of its kind in the U.S., and one of only three Oscar-qualifying LGBTQ+ fests. (The Best Dramatic Short winner at OOF is submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for award consideration.)

“On our 30th anniversary in 2017, we decided that it was really time to grow,” Farmer says. The schedule expanded from eight to 11 days and grew beyond its home base, Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, to hold screenings and events at two other venues. It also expanded to provide programming all year long. This year, due to COVID-19, the festival was refigured to run online, September 24 through October 4.

“We’re disappointed because so much of Out on Film is about watching and celebrating with the community and experiencing it together,” Farmer says. “On the flipside, I’m excited that going digital opens up the possibility to having online conversations” with filmmakers.

The festival is a touchstone not only for film lovers, but for writers, actors, and directors looking to connect with audiences and expand their craft. Filmmaker Chad Darnell’s “Groom’s Cake” won the Best Short in 2012, and immediately after the screening he met the man who would invest in his 2013 feature adaptation, “Birthday Cake.”

“That would never have been possible without Out on Film,” Darnell says. “The staff and volunteers have turned the festival into one of the most prestigious LGBTQ+ festivals in the country. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.”

The moment Love Beyond Walls’ founder decided to become an advocate for the homeless

Terence Lester Love Beyond Walls

Atlantans is a first-person account of the familiar strangers who make the city tick. This month’s is Terence Lester, founder of Love Beyond Walls, as told to Thomas Wheatley.

Family always was found in the company of those who would accept me, wherever I was in life. When I was 16 years old, I had family issues that led to me leaving home and staying on the streets of Atlanta, bouncing around from friend’s house to friend’s house, just trying to find rest and peace. Artie and Emilia Shaw, the parents of a friend of mine, were big advocates in my life and let me stay with them. Every morning, Artie encouraged me as I went to high school. He spoke life into me. He invested in me.

I learned from that time that my social condition and the experiences I was having paled in comparison to the potential that I had inside me. I just needed someone to help me realize that potential. Granted, in high school, I made some bad mistakes, but I had a lot of teachers that missed who I was as an individual and my experiences. Some days, I would fall asleep in class, and they had no idea I was up all night studying or trying to find a safe space.

In about 2004, my wife and I were about to graduate college. We were eating ramen noodles and thinking about how we didn’t have enough gas in the car to go drive somewhere we wanted to. Then, we asked ourselves, who are we to start complaining? There are a lot of people who probably are worse off than we are right now. Living in Atlanta, what does it mean to be proximate to people who are homeless, oftentimes nameless, living on the margins of society?

We filled trash bags with household items. We included an old pair of Reeboks my wife didn’t want. We pulled up in downtown, and a lady who was barefoot ran up to me and said, “I need shoes. I was just praying for some shoes last night.” My wife found those Reeboks. They were the homeless woman’s exact size. We had goosebumps and chills. It convinced us that we must live our lives for something greater, something bigger than ourselves, in a way that affirms the dignity of people living on the streets. In that moment, my wife and I just kind of vowed to always be present among those whom other people forget about or deem invisible. I could have still been on the streets.

Next thing we knew, it was a full-time thing. I knew the internet was becoming the place where you could raise awareness and educate and mobilize people. I started studying technology companies, like Instagram, and how they use design and innovation to create practical solutions. Because of my teenage experiences, there were times early on where I had no choice but to try to figure it out, MacGyver things. When I got to a place where I could leverage my platform to do some of these things, I said, Let’s think about something in a nontraditional sense to provide a practical solution. My brain is wired to figure out new ways to solve problems.

That’s where the idea for portable washing stations for homeless people in downtown came from. People would tell us, I’m afraid I’m going to contract COVID because I don’t have anywhere to wash my hands. All the public places have closed. For us, our minds go to an empathetic place mixed with thinking about design. What can we prototype out to see if it will work to solve this issue? Years ago, Love Beyond Walls started getting RV donations. We repurposed them into temporary shelters. What could we repurpose to solve the handwashing need? We removed those sinks from the RVs and converted them into outdoor mobile sinks.

A majority of our population that we work with are Black. I’m constantly thinking about systemic issues in Black and brown communities that lend themselves to people becoming impoverished. We could talk about the war on drugs, stop-and-frisk, voter suppression. But the systemic injustices don’t stop. It inspires us to do more and adds fire to our work. We are educating people who lack empathy for impoverished communities. But they also lack understanding about the injustice that persists against Black and brown people. Most people are wired to view service as a moment in time—the volunteer activity, the cleanup. What does it mean to view service as a lifestyle?

It takes courage to be poor. It takes courage to wake up every single day, to breathe and exist, knowing that you might not have access to a coronavirus test, or you’re laid off with no hope of securing unemployment money, or you don’t have adequate access to healthcare. You’re considered an essential worker but are paid minimum wage. So many people could let hopelessness take over. But they keep on.

This article appears in our August 2020 issue.

5 places in metro Atlanta to pick up Rosh Hashanah dinner

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Where to get Rosh Hashanah dinner in Atlanta
Brisket at Local Three

Photograph courtesy of Local Three

2020 hasn’t exactly earned itself the best reputation. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, offers a chance for followers to reset and start anew—and it’s only four days away. If you haven’t started planning your Rosh Hashanah dinner yet, don’t fret. These local restaurants are offering all the basics to-go. 

Alon’s Bakery & Market
Choices are plentiful at Alon’s this year with offerings ranging from hand-chopped chicken liver and honey-glazed roasted carrots to sweet potato tzimmes with dried fruit and honey and an apple tart tatin. Orders must be placed by 5 p.m. on September 16 for pickup on September 18. 1394 N. Highland Avenue, 404-872-6000; 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, 678-397-1781. 

Breadwinner Cafe & Bakery
Whether you just want dessert or need the whole shebang, Breadwinner has you covered with a special a la carte menu for 3 to 12 people. Offerings include smoked salmon fillet, a grilled vegetable platter, roasted potatoes, and chocolate rugelach. Orders must be placed by noon on September 17. 220 Sandy Springs Circle, 404-843-0224; 5482 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, 404-999-2623.

Goldbergs Fine Foods
Offering free delivery, as well as curbside pickup, Goldbergs deli’s catering menu includes honey roasted turkey breast, brisket pierogies, chopped herring, sweet noodle kugel (casserole), honey cake, and so much more. Seven locations around Atlanta.

Local Three Kitchen & Bar
Feed your family of 4 to 6 with a complete dinner from Local Three for $124.93. Friday’s menu includes Angus brisket, matzo ball soup, apples with local honey, and more. Saturday’s feast features two Springer Mountain Farms chickens with herb gravy, baby spinach salad, challah, and flourless chocolate cake, among other items. 3290 Northside Parkway, 404-968-2700.

The Kosher Gourmet
Get your order in by 3 p.m. September 15 for your choice of four types of kugel, plus gefilte fish, stuffed cabbage rolls, and sweet and sour meatballs, and more. Most items are sold by the pound and can be picked up September 16-18. 2153 Briarcliff Road, 404-636-1114.

PS: Wondering where Jewish deli staple the General Muir is on this list? Restaurants whose Rosh Hashanah pre-order deadlines have passed were excluded.

After a tree knocked down their freestanding garage, this Atlanta homeowner made a fine garden folly

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Brookwood Hills pavillionWhen a tree knocked down the freestanding garage in this Brookwood Hills backyard, the homeowners created a charming pavilion—a type of outbuilding sometimes called a garden folly.

Multiuse magic
Originally constructed as a space for the owners’ creative pursuits, the folly has also become a destination for entertaining or working al fresco, says Wright Marshall of Revival Construction.

Bright ideas
Steel windows and doors—along with small clerestory windows to bring in more light—keep the structure bright and airy. Architect Hoyte Johnson designed an elegant pyramid copper roof and attached a storage shed off the back.

Refined reinvention
“When the tree came down, the yard went from shady to sunny,” says landscape architect John Howard. That change allowed the garden plan to include a small lawn and freed up Cherokee pavers from a former patio to incorporate around the project.

Garden goals
The landscape plan is intentionally minimalist, says Howard; it’s dotted with Southern favorites such as hydrangeas, irises, and ferns. A stunning view of the Midtown skyline is a bonus feature.

Designer Tip: In outdoor rooms, keep the decor clean-lined and free of knickknacks for a truly serene escape. (This retreat has hidden storage behind wood-planked walls.) Rattan chairs from Pieces and copper lanterns by Bevolo add polish.

This article appears in our August 2020 issue.

My Style: Chris Classic, recording artist and entrepreneur

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Chris Classic
Classic is wearing a linen suit by Bar III, a shirt by Goodfellow & Co., brogues by Panelli, and a hat from Atlanta’s Fruition Hat Company. Rings are by Pitango and David Yurman.

Photograph by Ben Rollins

New York transplant Chris Classic is something of a creative renaissance man. His claims to fame include an American Music Award (for best soundtrack for the 2007 Alvin and the Chipmunks) and a viral internet moment in which he transformed an H&M lookbook image of a young Black child wearing a controversial hoodie to an image of him as a king. Now, Classic has a new fragrance line, Savoir Faire. (Its logo also features a crown.)

Neighborhood Cascade

Style The new Black dad. Staples include multifunctional blazers, white tee, jeans, and comfortable lace-ups.

Scents I like to walk into a room and have fragrance pique interest without saying a word. We currently carry three fragrances, blended and bottled by hand—Soul Café, Beau Noir, and a signature scent with notes of sandalwood and leather—and have two more in the works.

Celebrity style crushes Professional basketball player Chris Paul, fashion consultant Nick Wooster

Atlanta shopping Men’s vintage shop the Tough Boot

Go-to accessory Colorful pocket squares by Atlanta brand Igrushi

Chris ClassicOn breaking the internet I was thinking about that [H&M model] child years from now and what he would see when he Googled himself. I wanted to give him the opportunity to see himself with a crown instead of the words on the hoodie. We have the choice to create things that allow others to see us differently.

Advice for Black brands Move in a spirit of camaraderie and collective excellence instead of competition. Be original, authentic, and unapologetic while maintaining elevated standards. We do not have to bend to Eurocentric ideals about the meaning of beauty and luxury. Black-owned does not necessarily mean Black-only.

This article appears in our August 2020 issue.

What’s happening with Westside Park in northwest Atlanta?

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What’s happening with Westside Park in northwest Atlanta?Next month, crews will put the final touches on a 350-foot deep reservoir holding 2.4 billion gallons of water Atlanta can tap in case of an emergency. Later on, they’ll cut the ribbon on the surrounding park, the city’s largest.

Why did the city buy a hole in the ground?
In 2006, Atlanta officials were staring down a catastrophe in the making: If the city lost access to water during a drought or disaster, it only had three days of reserve drinking water. Under then Mayor Shirley Franklin, the city purchased a 137-acre shuttered granite quarry near the Fulton County Jail for $40 million. The following year, a drought drained down Lake Lanier, the main source of water for metro Atlanta and the city proper, and the city ramped up efforts to build the reservoir. A park—nearly 100 acres larger than Piedmont Park—would surround the pond, bringing much-needed greenspace to an industrial part of town that was then becoming popular with developers and residents. “Before, it was just a big hole in the middle of the city,” says Ade Abon, the senior director of capital projects at the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management. “[Now,] it’s going to keep us alive and provide us with a park.”

How was it built?
In 2015, the city purchased a $10 million tunnel-boring machine—later named “Driller Mike” in honor of the nom de rap of Atlanta hip-hop celebrity and businessman Michael Render—and crews began blasting earth and digging a 10-foot-wide, five-mile-long, concrete-lined hole snaking from the Chattahoochee River to the bottom of the quarry and ending at the city’s two water treatment plants on the city’s west side. As many as 275 workers were on site at one time. The quarry, which has been used as a set for shows like The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, didn’t hold too many surprises when crews pumped out groundwater that had collected at the bottom of the hole. “As we drained the existing pool of water, one worker found a car door,” Abon says. “We didn’t find gold.” In addition, crews built a 25,000-square-foot pumphouse, with machines from Germany, to send water from the reservoir to treatment plants when needed.

You mentioned a park?
Work is all but finished on the relatively simple first phase of the greenspace named Westside Park (think an overlook of the reservoir and city skyline, playground, parking, and native plant landscaping). It also has a connection to the Proctor Creek Greenway, a multi-use trail that will eventually connect to the Chattahoochee. Later phases will add three or four overlooks, an amphitheater, and athletic fields. Keeping the park green and leafy also helps water quality, Abon says; trees and grass help filter runoff water, putting less stress on the treatment plants before it heads to people’s homes.

What happened to Driller Mike?
“Driller Mike dug through five miles of rock,” Abon says. “After that, the machine was basically done.” The city sold the 400-foot-long machine to the construction contractor and made a little cash back.

This article appears in our September 2020 issue.

The verdict on 4 new Atlanta restaurants: Delbar, Buena Gente, Hero Doughnuts, and Perc Coffee

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Delbar Atlanta

Delbar
If you find it hard to get psyched about rice, you must be depriving yourself of Persian food—an abstinence you should quickly break by ordering the sabzi polo (“herb pilaf”) from Delbar. Persians are rice gods, and sabzi polo is their ambrosia—a dish commonly served on New Year’s but one that’s so unbelievably good you’ll want to eat it every day. The basmati takes on a springy-chewy, cheeselike texture, and the abundance of herbs adds vegetal snap, but the most amazing part is the crust of crunchy, near-blackened rice that forms along the bottom of the pan. (The pan is inverted onto a plate, so that the rice holds its form and resembles an upside-down bowl.) The crunchy layer even has its own word in Persian, “tahdig,” and, I kid you not, it is reminiscent of—and every bit as lustworthy as—the burnt-cheese raised crust of Nina & Rafi’s Detroit pizza. Even crazier, when you eat the leftovers out of the fridge the next day, they’re no less delicious. (Yes, I’m even psyched about cold rice.) What should you order with your sabzi polo? Fish is the traditional option, and Delbar’s trout stuffed with walnuts and pomegranate is lovely and travels surprisingly well, if you’re opting for takeout or delivery. The falafel is a fine choice—the fried chickpea balls appropriately green-hued from parsley—as is the kashk bademjoon (fried eggplant with crispy onion, mint, and cream of whey). But none will transfix you the way that $7 rice will. 870 Inman Village Parkway, Inman Park, 404-500-1444, delbaratl.com

Buena Gente
The first time I tried to grab a Cubano at Buena Gente, the food truck that recently expanded into a North Decatur strip mall, the shop had sold out of everything by 1:30 p.m., a cruel blow to those stuck in line. I returned earlier the next day with better luck—and was able to determine, after a solid wait on the sidewalk (no online preordering here), what all the fuss was about. The pressed Cuban bread had a crust rivaling the crackliness of creme brulee and a center just as soft. Most impressive, though, was the pork, so deeply fragrant and superjuicy that it easily stood up to the sandwich’s interior walls of gooey Swiss cheese and salty bolo ham. Note that this sandwich is best consumed with a Cuban coffee or mango milkshake. 1365 Clairmont Road, North Decatur, 678-744-5638, buenagenteatl.com

Hero Doughnuts & Buns
Considering that some of the other occupants of Summerhill’s redeveloped Georgia Avenue include a barbecue joint, pizza place, hot dog stand, and ice cream shop, it was only a matter of time before doughnuts joined the fray. As is true of its neighbor Hot Dog Pete’s, Hero Doughnuts was conceived in Birmingham and peddles guileless comfort food—in this case, the type of straightforward sugar bombs you fetishized as a kid. While I typically prefer yeast doughnuts, Hero’s cake ones won me over: The pleasantly crunchy exterior encapsulates soft-yet-dense, not-too-sweet dough. The buns in the shop’s name cradle, say, eggs and sausage in the morning and fried chicken with buffalo sauce and ranch in the afternoon. The latter evokes a messier Chick-fil-A sandwich overdosed with Zesty Buffalo. I’m not complaining. 33 Georgia Avenue, Summerhill, 470-369-6800, herodoughnutsandbuns.com

Perc Coffee
The Savannah-based coffee roaster made a genius decision when it opened a shop in Atlanta: It brought on baker extraordinaire Sarah Dodge (who currently runs her Bread Is Good delivery service and pop-up and formerly served as 8Arm’s star pastry chef) to create and oversee its menu of pastries and sandwiches. If your culinary prayers include a fluffy biscuit stuffed with soft-scrambled egg and peppery bacon, fragrant sourdough slices piled with herb chimichurri and miso-roasted shaved squash that mimics lunch meat (but yummier), oil-slick and salt-dusted focaccia graced with sliced heirloom tomatoes and Duke’s mayo, or a just a perfectly chewy everything bagel heaped with whipped cream cheese, you can consider those prayers answered. 2380 Hosea L. Williams Drive, East Lake, no phone, perccoffee.com

This article appears in our October 2020 issue.

3 tips for buying and selling homes in 2020

Atlanta affordability
Photograph by fstop123/Getty Images

The world of residential real estate as we know it is changing, thanks to erratic markets, interest-rate cuts, and stymied home showings. Here, three agents tell us how that disruption may affect Atlanta’s real estate market for the longer term. It’s not all bad.

Embrace virtual tours. In-person home showings have dropped 50 percent in Atlanta, according to Sherry Ajluni, an agent with Compass Real Estate. “We’ve always used video when showcasing our homes but are leaning on it much more heavily now, and I think virtual tours will be here to stay.” Ajluni’s tips? Don’t show every bedroom, highlight the street view and backyard, and keep the video to under one minute for Instagram (or use IGTV). “Remember that it’s advertising—not a comprehensive look at every corner of your home,” she says.

Check official guidelines regularly. This year, anything can change with little notice, says Julian Jackson at eXp Realty. He recommends home sellers check local county and municipal sites regularly to ensure their contractors, delivery services, and other vendors are still operating—and be flexible amid social distancing. “Don’t assume that an appointment a week out will still happen as planned, as we’re seeing recommendations and rules change daily, from government officials as well as from businesses themselves.”

Expect a window of opportunity for buyers. “June is usually a peak month for deals in a normal year, but the global economic uncertainty has suddenly put the brakes on an otherwise healthy market,” says Ben Hirsh, an agent who specializes in the Buckhead community. Buyers can expect a window of opportunity with less competition since those who don’t need to move aren’t likely to be looking. And homeowners who aren’t ready to sell should keep an eye on interest rates, as many will likely find it beneficial to refinance this year.

This article appears in our Summer 2020 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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