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When its theatrical home closed its doors due to the pandemic, the UCLA Film & Television Archive shifted public programming to an ambitious new online screening model, the Virtual Screening Room (VSR), which is presented live with real-time engagement between audiences, guest filmmakers, and scholars. What began as a challenge provided an opportunity to present archival treasures to a wider, global audience.

Among these treasures are holdings from the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, the largest publicly accessible collection of LGBTQ+ moving image media. Drawing from the collection, the Archive has thus far curated eight of its 56 VSR programs with media exploring LGBTQ+ life, art and representation, from the silent era to the present decade. Screenings included "Different from the Others" (Germany, 1919), the earliest known sympathetic portrayal of a gay protagonist, a film that miraculously survived Nazi Germany; and "In the Life" (U.S., 1992–2012), the first nationally broadcast news series focusing on LGBTQ+ people and their fight for equal rights.

These eight VSR programs averaged 216 unique viewers each, engaging 1,735 viewers around the world — countries including Brazil, Hong Kong, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam — many seeing these stories for the first time.

“As a young trans person,” commented one viewer, “I was able to feel a connection to a filmic past I never knew existed before.”

Meaningful connections like this one are made possible by the continued support of The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation(opens in a new tab), a longtime funder of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project Screening Series.

“Our partnership with the Kuehn Jr. Foundation has produced dozens of screenings of LGBTQ+-centered works over the last decade and has enabled the Archive to bring leading LGBTQ+ media makers and historians to the theatrical — and now virtual — stage,” said Archive Director May Hong HaDuong.

Recently, support from the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation and Kuehn Foundation made possible the digitization of LGBTQ+ short films. “We look forward to bringing these films and past restoration projects to the big screen for a shared, in-person experience, while extending our reach across continents through our online screening model,” said HaDuong.