Outfest Celebrates 30 Years With John Waters, Chris Colfer And Haley Joel Osment

Turning the big 3-0 this year, Outfest, Los Angeles’ legendary LGBT film festival, has announced its lineup for 2012. And with 147 films, plus a mass of panels, parties and a special John Waters tribute, 30 is looking hotter than ever.

“Outfest began with just three films, and now we are screening nearly 150 high quality movies that represent the rich diversity of our community,” said festival director Kristin Schaffer. “It’s remarkable to see the evolution of queer storytelling.”

Considering the lineup, Ms. Schaffer ain’t wrong.

On July 12, the festival opens with Jeffrey Schwarz’s acclaimed Vito, a powerful documentary about gay-rights pioneer Vito Russo, who shamed the media for its portrayal of the LGBT community in the aftermath of Stonewall. His seminal book, The Celluloid Closet, explored representations of LGBT characters in film, both direct and covert.

Ira Sachs’ award-winning romantic drama, Keep the Lights On, and Chilean director Marialy Rivas’ Young and Wild  are centerpiece films this year. Sachs’ film (left) is based on his real-life rocky relationship with Bill Klegg, while Rivas’ film focuses on a 17-year old blogger who refuses to let her strict religious upbringing get in the way of her libido.

Activist group ACT UP gets the documentary treatment as well, in David France’s How to Survive a Plague, about the devastating early days of the AIDS epidemic and how activists learned to work the system to save lives.

Closing out the fest on July 22 is the highly anticipated Struck by Lightning, starring Glee‘s Chris Colfer, who also wrote the script. He stars as Carson Phillips, a teenager who recounts his rough high school days and the many people who attributed to his misery. Co-starring Dermot Mulroney and Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks, Struck by Lightning (right) should end things with a bang.

Other titles showing this year include the lesbian road flick Cloudburst with Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker; White Frog with BD Wong, Joan Chen and Twilight‘s Booboo Stewart; the gay-parenting drama Any Day Now with Alan Cummings and Garret Dillahunt; and the off-kilter comedy That’s What She Said with Anne Heche and Carrie Preston (True Blood).

But we’re most eager to check out Sassy Pants, Coley Sohn’s coming-of-age comedy about a young girl (Ashley Rickards) who runs away from home to live with her dad (Diedrich Bader) and his boyfriend, played by former child star Haley Joel Osment.

Yup, the Sixth Sense kid is playing a leather boy toy.

 Outfest runs July 12-22 in Los Angeles