LGBT movie buffs will join dozens of filmmakers from around the globe when they descend upon Hollywood to laugh, cry and find inspiration during OutFest: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Celebrating its 33rd anniversary this summer, the film screenings, parties and special events will take place between July 9-19.
“This year’s gala selections underline the fact that our community is empowered openly identifying as LGBT,” says Christopher Racster, Interim Executive Director of Outfest. “The program truly represents Outfest’s commitment to use the power of film to reflect our community; highlighting our struggles and our triumphs, and ultimately creating greater understanding and change within society.”
Here’s a look at the gala screenings announced today. Much more info to come as the festival draws closer, but this is an intriguing first taste of the program:
Opening Night: Tig
“Good evening. Hello. I have cancer,” comedian Tig Notaro famously announced in front of a stunned audience in 2012. “Is everybody having a good time?” In just 30 minutes, Notaro not only revealed her grave prognosis to the world, but she also delivered the news with a disarming mixture of humor and vulnerability. The standup set became a media sensation and critical smash overnight and, as Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York’s new documentary reveals, helped push the beloved comedian past a series of setbacks and into the limelight.
U.S. Dramatic Centerpiece: Nasty Baby
Hipsters beware: “Nasty Baby” plays nice until a disturbing twist flips the film – and with it the entire quirky-cute indie canon – on its head. A certifiable shocker at the Sundance Film Festival, Sebastián Silva’s biting and provocative black comedy has already inspired both walkouts and accolades, including the prestigious Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.
An attractive gay Brooklyn couple, Freddy (Silva) and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe, “Rachel Getting Married,” TV On The Radio), ask their best friend Polly (Kristin Wiig) to become their surrogate. As the three hipsters contemplate becoming one big progressive family, and as Freddy and his assistant Wendy (Alia Shawkat, “Arrested Development”) create what they’re convinced is a brilliant art show, signs of danger and instability, primarily from a disturbed neighbor named The Bishop, intrude upon the film’s squeaky-clean surface.
International Centerpiece: Eisenstein in Guanajuato
This film kicks dust in the face of the rickety biopic, injecting life into all things rich, wild and deliciously taboo. Revered filmmaker Peter Greenaway (“The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”) brings out the best of his acclaimed and controversial filmmaking style in this bold and sexually explicit celebration of Sergei Eisenstein’s gay coming-of-age during what is now considered his transformative trip to Mexico during the 1930s. Temporarily free of Soviet constraints, the famed Russian director (played by Elmer Bäck) discovers his wild side upon meeting and bedding a gorgeous tour guide named Palomino (Luis Alberti, “Carmin Tropical”). What starts as a work-related trip becomes a dizzying journey into the mind of a visionary who, at the peak of his artistic power, discovers romance for the first time.
International Centerpiece: The Summer of Sangaile
Winner of the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Alante Kavaite’s “The Summer of Sangaile” is arguably one of the year’s most visually stunning films. It also happens to be one of the most romantic. Set against the bright summer skies of Lithuania’s countryside, the story begins with a chance meeting between two restless youths – the quiet, angst-ridden Sangaile and her polar-opposite love interest Auste, a beguiling and beautiful fashionista. Sangaile dreams of flying one of the stunt planes that speed through the clouds above her parent’s home, but her vertigo keeps her aspirations grounded. It’s only when Auste prods her to accompany a pilot’s trip that Sangaile forces herself to take a leap of faith.
Documentary Centerpiece: Best of Enemies
While violence erupted in the streets during the long hot summer of 1968, two literary giants faced off in an intellectual clash of the titans — with no holds barred. Directors Morgan Neville (the Oscar-winning “20 Feet from Stardom”) and Robert Gordon take us back to an electrifying moment in history, as the third-place ABC network took a bold step for TV news: Take ideologically opposed pundits Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley and allow them to debate the issues every night. Live. Never at a loss for words, the authors faced off with equal fervor and venom, culminating in the famous exchange in which Vidal labeled Buckley a “crypto-Nazi,” leading Buckley to respond by calling Vidal “queer” on national TV. This captivating Sundance favorite shows us what these legendary combatants had in common — both were intellectuals and failed political candidates from patrician backgrounds — mixing interviews with their friends and enemies along with Vidal and Buckley’s public and private writings (narrated by John Lithgow and Kelsey Grammer). These legendary TV battles represented both the decline of intellectual discourse in the mass media and the rise of right-vs.-left talking heads masquerading as news.
Documentary Centerpiece: Out To Win
One of the final frontiers for LGBT visibility in this country is the locker room, and “Out To Win” celebrates the pioneers who have worked to make the world of sports a more diverse and inclusive one. Screening his fourth consecutive documentary at Outfest Los Angeles, filmmaker Malcolm Ingram (“Continental,” “Bear Nation,” “Continental”, Outfest Jury Prize–winner “Small Town Gay Bar”) takes an expansive look at out-and-proud champions, from early envelope-pushers like Billie Jean King and David Kopay through current superstars like Jason Collins and Brittney Griner to the college athletes who are defying conventions and opening minds.
Closing night: The New Girlfriend
From the visionary mind of Francois Ozon (“8 Women,” “Swimming Pool”) comes his one-of-a-kind gender-bending melodrama, which both shocks and delights in equal measure. Steeped in suspense and indebted to the eye-popping visuals of Pedro Almodovar, Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, “The New Girlfriend” blends the macabre with a heartfelt romance in the tale of soft-spoken Claire and her love affair with a mysterious stranger. After mourning the loss of Laura, her childhood friend (and unrequited love), Claire comes across Laura’s husband dressed head-to-toe in his late wife’s clothes. Unsure whether his new guise is the result of foul play, she threatens to reveal David to Laura’s family. But the more time she spends with him, the more Claire becomes seduced by his beautiful new incarnation. As the two become inseparable, Claire wonders whether she is falling for David’s alter-ego, or perhaps a part of Laura’s resurrected soul.