The rumours are true. This year's crop of LGBT films are actually - as a whole - very good.
The first weekend of OUTFEST contained a jammed-packed bevy of panels, parties, shorts, docs and features appealing to a variety of folks.
One of my favorite aspects of the festival, as per usual, was meeting a slew of incredibly talented and diverse film makers. Remember, after your film, stop by the Heineken lounge and strike up a conversation! That's the point of coming to an LGBT cultural event - watching the film with your peers then engaging in dialogue about it with some new friends!
Above photo, Caught in the Act. Actress Thea Gill (star of this Friday's MULLIGANS at the Ford) and I are caught by here!'s Andrea Krauss's night vision camera as we sneak out back during Opening Night for a smoke.
The downside of the festival is the SOPHIE'S CHOICE aspect of it all. You just can't be in two places at once, and they have films showing all over town.
As someone who regularly walks out of films because of my low tolerance for bad acting, trenchant scripts and poor production quality (and I'm starting to accept the fact I might be a little a.d.d), I have seen some fantastic films.
Pictured above with the ADVOCATE is star of Dennis Hensley's new film REUNION, Kenny Kellerher.
Saturday night a really great debut film played, THE NEW TWENTY.
First time director, out of New York and a reported small budget. The film is an ensemble piece about five college friends as they turn thirty. I just have to say, it was really good. So good, they sold out their premiere screening. Then sold out their second screening. Now a third screening has been added next Sunday!
Picture to the left, THE NEW TWENTY post party at O BAR on Saturday night. Yes. We closed down the place.
I was so taken by the performances, I'll be interviewing some of the cast this Wednesday so stay tuned for that video. I also suggest you buy your ticket to their Sunday screening like now.
The film stars Nicole Bilderback, who you may know from CLUELESS and BRING IT ON.
Another film which has to be hands down the best film I've seen in a while was HAMLET 2. Think SOUTH PARK meets ELECTION meets MONTY PYTHON meets DEAD POET'S SOCIETY. Never has anything so wrong been so right, as inner city kids take drama with a man/child teacher who endeavours to save their Tuscon drama program by staging an original musical production of a sequel to HAMLET which involves a time machine, Jesus, the Gay Men's Chorus and a musical number titled I FEEL LIKE I WAS RAPED IN THE FACE. If you're a fan of any of the actors I'm going to type next, see the film because they are just stellar in this using their entire arsenal of comic skills: Catherine Keener, David Arquette, Amy Poehler, Elisabeth Shue and of course the lead Steve Coogan. Coogan's delivery of even a participle can have you rolling in the aisles.
This film comes out in August and I suspect it will be a huge hit.
There was a screening of a new print of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HARVEY MILK, which inspired so many wonderful conversations at the post reception about our gay history. People actually cried.
Thanks to OUTFEST for showcasing classic documentaries like this one so our collective gay history is remembered.
I suspect the same reaction will come from the screening tonight, WORD IS OUT, from 1978. I've seen that doc as well, and it is very moving. This film is a capsule of the times, and was one of the first to delve deep into the psyche of homosexuals in their every day lives. It is very moving and it completely takes you back to the time period.
Along the same vein as bringing out stories to the screen came a charming documentary from comedy producer Andrea Meyerson with LAUGHING MATTERS: THE NEXT GENERATION.
Meyerson directs this wonderful series of stand up videos for the gay channel LOGO, that bring you the comedy of some of our best LGBT comedians plus a beautiful look into their personal lives and careers. With clips from their performances and personal interviews, Meyerson introduces us to five up and coming out LGBT comics in America. The comics talk about coming out in high school, the personal problems they've had to overcome (eating disorders, etc - it's very honest) and the nerve wracking anticipation of breaking into the business as an OUT person ("Someone finally recognized me at the Coffee Bean the other day! She said, 'I saw you at the Improv and you were so funny'. I said, 'Thank you. Did you want a pastry with that order?'").
In photo: director Meyerson is flanked by friends and fans on the red carpet for the premiere of her new doc.
This is just a taste of OUTFEST this past weekend. I could possibly write VOLUMES, but won't. Just come down and engage in this yourself!
Also, since I can't be everywhere at once, I urge you to check out two other wonderful blogs previewing and covering OUTFEST. Remember, no one wants you to see bad movies, so check out these blogs and pick the films based on your interests!
Greg Hernandez OUT IN HOLLYWOOD. He has full advance reviews of the films and interviews with stars and filmmakers.
Pat Branch at EyeSpyLa.com Pat knows everyone and she does lovely, funny, personal and to the point interviews with all the celebs at OUTFEST.
Also, tonight there are two wonderful parties. First is the PRODUCERS RECEPTION which I am throwing since I love me some producers. The other is the GIMME SUGAR post party at REPUBLIC thrown by Linda Fusco and Michelle Agnew of FUSE. That'll be the big lesbian blow out, folks.
Personally, after my party, I'll be at FUBAR singing all my favorite songs from MAMA MIA!!! So when you're done with your own parties and screenings, head down there, the folks rock until 2 am!
The good photos c/o Brian Putnam of Putnam Photography and head of the OUTFEST photographers this year.