(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reverend's Previews: Outfest 2009

A Swedish gay couple looking forward to adopting a baby gets a homophobic teenager instead. The early years of southern California’s GLBT community, told by those who were there. Gay drama — and comedy — just in time for the holidays. A time-tripping psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the gay porn industry.

These films — Patrik, Age 1.5, On These Shoulders We Stand, Make the Yuletide Gay and Pornography: A Thriller, respectively — provide but a few of the many tantalizing storylines that will be unveiled during Outfest 2009: The 27th Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The festival, which is the leading GLBT film showcase in the nation, will run July 9-19 at venues throughout Hollywood.

This year’s selections reflect current GLBT concerns with a bit more urgency than in years past. “In response to the passing of Proposition 8 in California and similar bans against gay marriage and adoption across the United States, we are proud to put a particular focus on GLBT rights and equality,” said Outfest’s Executive Director, Kirsten Schaffer.

181 films from 25 countries will be shown during the festival, but Outfest is much more than just thought-provoking, entertaining movies. There will be panel discussions, celebrity appearances and parties galore during the course of the festival.

It will all kick off at 8:00 p.m. on July 9 with Outfest’s Opening Night Gala. Writer-director Peter Bratt will debut his powerful drama, La Mission, starring his actor brother, Benjamin Bratt. It depicts the turmoil that results when a former prison inmate and recovering alcoholic, Che (played by Benjamin), discovers that his beloved son is gay. Set in San Francisco’s Mission District, the film captures both the joyous spirit and harsh realities of the neighborhood.

The unique Fig Trees, a riveting video opera about AIDS activism (with Gertrude Stein and St. Peregrine thrown in for good measure), will make a no-doubt memorable impact on July 10. It is directed by the terrific John Greyson, of Zero Patience and Lilies fame. Fig Trees will serve as Outfest’s Platinum Centerpiece film.

The festival’s US Dramatic Centerpiece selection, Mississippi Damned, will be shown the night of July 14. Newcomer Chastity Kershall Hammitte makes a strong impression as Leigh, a young lesbian struggling not only with her identity but the challenges faced by her poor, African-American family.

On July 15, the new film by Lucia Puenzo, the Argentinean writer-director of last year’s acclaimed XXY, will be screened as the International Dramatic Centerpiece film. Entitled El Nino Pez (The Fish Child), it is a lesbian romance that also serves as a mystery thriller and a scathing examination of class differences. Carlos Bardem, brother of Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, co-stars.

After the festival’s various other short and feature-length movies are unspooled, the Outfest Closing Night Gala will be held on July 19. Awards will be presented to various films and filmmakers in a number of categories and one last film, Dare, will be shown. Dare stars Emmy Rossum (who beautifully played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera movie) and hottie Zach Gilford in a contemporary tale of sexually-confused teenagers. Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer and Sandra Bernhard provide comical support.

“Outfest 2009 represents the broadest spectrum of LGBT stories, as told by an equally diverse group of filmmakers,” according to Director of Programming Kimberly Yutani. “This year’s program truly represents the commitment of Outfest to challenge, entertain and bring our audiences a dynamic 11-day experience.”

For a complete listing of films or to purchase tickets for screenings and events, please visit Outfest's official website or call (213) 480-7065.

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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