Every year, as the June gloom fades and the heat gets turned up, Outfest, LA’s gay and lesbian film festival, arrives. Celebrating its 30th year this year, Outfest opens Thursday and runs through Sunday, July 22.
This year, 147 themed films will play at the Directors Guild of America (7920 Sunset Blvd. at Fairfax), the Harmony Gold Theaters (7655 Sunset Blvd.), the Ford Amphitheatre (2580 Cahuenga Blvd.) and three other locations across town. The films come from the U.S. and 24 other countries.
Some films feature well-known actors, including Chris Colfer, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney and Allison Janney (Struck by Lightning), Brenda Fricker and Olympia Dukakis (Cloudburst), Alan Cumming (Any Day Now), Haley Joel Osment (Sassy Pants), Michael Urie, Thora Birch, Christine Lahti and Brittany Snow (Petunia), Carrie Preston and Anne Heche (That’s What She Said) and Lance Bass (Mississippi: I Am).
Outfest not only gives movie lovers the chance to see the latest gay-themed films, it also offers them the opportunity to meet the people behind and in front of the camera, thanks to Q&As following screenings. Oftentimes, those filmmakers and stars also turn up at the after-parties held at nearby venues, giving people a chance to chat even more.
This year, He will pick up that award during the opening night ceremony Thursday at the Orpheum Theater (842 S. Broadway) in downtown LA, followed by a screening of the new documentary Vito about gay activist Vito Russo.
The ever joyous musical sing-along is back, this year featuring 2007’s Hairspray. That will take place at the Ford Amphitheatre, where four other films also screen, including the closing night film, the high school comedy Struck by Lightning, written by and starring Glee’s Chris Colfer.
The always popular “Home Video Gong Show,” featuring host Dennis Hensley and a panel of celebrity judges, returns. A panel discussion with sitcom writers talking about LGBT portrayals on TV over the last 35 years is also on the schedule. Additionally, there’s a panel discussion with cast members from ABC’s comedy Happy Endings.
In honor of its 30th anniversary, Outfest will also screen several legacy films including 1982’s Making Love starring Harry Hamlin, Michael Ontkean and Kate Jackson, 1981’s explicit German drama Taxi Zum Klo and 1963’s Queen of Sheba Meets the Aton Man, offering a glimpse at the NYC gay scene of the early 1960s.
And of course, there are films galore to see. Here is a rundown of some of the best:
Vito – documentary about the late gay activist Vito Russo who helped found ACT-UP and GLAAD and also wrote The Celluloid Closet, a book examining Hollywood’s portrayal of gays in the movies circa 1930s-1980s (Opening night movie – Thursday, July 12 at 8 p.m., Orpheum Theatre).
My Best Day – quirky comedy about a crazy series of events that happens to a small-town lesbian forced to work her receptionist job on the July 4th holiday (Friday, July 13 at 9:15 p.m., Harmony Gold Theatre; also Sunday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m., DGA 2).
I Want Your Love – drama about a man leaving San Francisco who reconnects with his ex-boyfriend at his going away party (Friday, July 13 at 9:45 p.m., DGA 1).
Mississippi: I Am – documentary about how Mississippi native Lance Bass coming out inspired gay youth in the state to become LGBT leaders there (Saturday, July 14 at 11:30 a.m., DGA 2).
Petunia – dysfunctional family comedy starring Michael Urie, Christine Lahti, Brittany Snow and Thora Burch from director/screenwriter Ash Christian (Fat Girls) (Saturday, July 14 at 1:30 p.m., DGA 1).
Face 2 Face – documentary about a lonely woman who sets out to meet some of the 5,000 virtual friends she’s made via Facebook (Saturday, July 14 at 2 p.m., Harmony Gold).
Love Free or Die – documentary about Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to become a bishop in the Episcopal Church (Saturday, July 14 at 4:15 p.m., DGA 1).
Sassy Pants – teen comedy about a girl who moves in with her father and his much younger boyfriend played by Haley Joel Osment (Saturday, July 14 at 7 p.m., DGA 1)
Gayby – comedy about a woman trying to get pregnant with the help of her gay best friend (Saturday, July 14 at 9:45 p.m., DGA 1).
Beauty – South African drama about a married family man with a secret gay life who becomes obsessed with his best friend’s grown son (Saturday, July 14 at 9:30 p.m., DGA 2; also Sunday, July 22 at 2:45 p.m., DGA 2).
That’s What She Said – raunchy comedy about two women looking for love in the wrong places, starring Anne Heche and Carrie Preston (Sunday, July 15 at 4:30 p.m., DGA 1).
I Am a Woman Now – documentary about a group of 70-something transgender women looking back on their lives (Sunday, July 15 at 5 p.m., Harmony Gold).
A Perfect Ending – drama about an unfulfilled housewife who finds passion in the arms of another woman (Sunday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m., DGA 1).
Keep the Lights On – drama about the highs and lows of a couple (one out, one closeted) that first meet through a one-night stand (U.S. Dramatic Centerpiece – Monday, July 16 at 7 p.m., DGA 1).
Young & Wild – drama from Chile about a 17-year-old girl who’s obsessed with sex and chronicles her dating life with both men and women in her blog (International Dramatic Centerpiece – Tuesday, July 17 at 7 p.m., DGA 1).
How to Survive a Plague – documentary about activist groups that fought the AIDS pandemic, including archival footage and new interviews with some of the activists (Documentary Centerpiece – Wednesday, July 18 at 7 p.m., DGA 1).
Mosquita y Mari – romantic drama about a 15-year-old girl who finds herself drawn to another young girl (Fusion Centerpiece – Thursday at 7 p.m., DGA 1).
Kiss Me – Swedish romantic drama about an engaged but uptight woman whose emotions are stirred when she meets a carefree woman (Friday, July 20 at 7 p.m., DGA 1)
BearCity 2: The Proposal – comedy sequel about a couple going to Provincetown to get married (Friday, July 20 at 8:30 p.m., Ford Amphitheatre).
Cloudburst – comedy about a 70-something lesbian couple on a road trip through Canada, starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker (Saturday, July 21 at 8:30 p.m., Ford Amphitheatre).
Famous Joe Project – comedy about a newly out gay man who does video posts about all aspects of his life including the strange world of sugar daddies and porn stars he stumbles upon (Saturday, July 21 at 9:45 p.m., DGA 1).
Struck by Lightning – black comedy about a small-town high-school student from a dysfunctional family who dreams of a bigger life, starring Chris Colfer, Allison Janney, Dermot Mulroney and Christina Hendricks (Closing night movie – Sunday, July 22 at 8 p.m., Ford Amphitheater).