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‘Outfest Fusion Lab’ Pops Up in Highland Park

Sandwiched between a furniture store and a hair salon, with a rental sign still hanging out front, a Highland Park storefront has been transformed into a dynamic space for the discussion and promotion of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality.

For this month only, the locale is home to Outfest’s inaugural “Fusion Lab” that offers programming such as workshops and film screenings, as well as a filmmaker work stations and equipment rental for those who want to create their own films.

“Fusion Lab” offers workshops and film screenings at its location on 5503 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Outfest is a non-profit organization that promotes LGBT inclusion in cinema. Its mission is to foster “artistic expression of gender, sexuality and LGBT culture and its transformative social impact on the world,” thereby protecting LGBT history, showcasing the present and nurturing LBGT future, according to their website.

“Fusion Lab is an expansion of Outfest’s commitment to nurturing emerging artists and to support filmmakers of color,” said Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer in a press release. “We are excited to see the stories that emerge from this vibrant community.”

Organizers acknowledge the location, without permanent signage, is a little easy to miss, but they hope Angelenos will seek it out anyway.

Highland Park was the venue for Fusion Lab’s inaugural event for its “deep history, cultural diversity, and dedication to the artists,” according to the group.

The lab kicked off Friday, March 8 with the screening of seven short films under the banner “Welcome to my World”, this includes three Latino-theme films: “Dish” (2009) about two young men and shot in East Los Angeles; “Remember Me in Red” (2010) about transgender friends and filmed in Los Angeles, and “Divorcio USA 2005/2012” (2012) about a couple divorcing and filmed in Mexico.

The short film screenings are scheduled under the names “Welcome to my World”, “Catch Me If You Can,” “Hello Darling” and “Love Me or Leave Me.” A total of 14 short films focusing on the Latino community or in Spanish, are sprinkled in the offerings. Screenings will take place every Friday, Saturday, Sunday until March 30. The screening area only has room for about 60 people, so registering online is encouraged to ensure you’ll have a seat.

The free workshops on directing, writing and editing theory will be taught by Outfest alumni. Workshop attendance is also limited; the first workshop on March 10 taught by Director Jamie Babbit was full several days in advance, according to Stoughton-Jackson.

The lab is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 8p.m., Fridays and Saturdays noon to 10 p.m. and Sundays noon to 8 p.m. Film cameras and editing software at computers will be available to use free of charge.

The film lab in Highland Park is supported by a grant from the Irvine Foundation.

Fusion Lab is located at 5503 North Figueroa Street, (at North Avenue 55).

For more information, to see a schedule of films to be screened visit http://www.outfest.org/outfest-fusion-lab/ or call (213) 480-7088.