Loading...

Outfest 2013: 10 Films to See 

Thursday, Jul 11 2013
Comments
8940608.t.jpg

Hallelujah. It's a good year for Outfest, L.A.'s annual gay and lesbian film festival. This year's films are varied, complex and, best of all, thematically mature. Perhaps, at long last, queer cinema is leaving its extended adolescence behind. Here are 10 highlights.

Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton

"He was an outsider's outsider," says one of Big Joy's talking heads about influential experimental filmmaker and poet James Broughton. The iconoclast's groundbreaking film work was influenced by Cocteau while his literary endeavors set the stage for the arrival of the Beats. Directors Eric Slade, Stephen Silha and Dawn Logsdon are respectful of their subject but don't shy away from the less noble aspects of his life (i.e., the wives and children who were casualties of his evolving sexuality identity.) Packed with film clips, home movies and photos, Big celebrates a man who found endless joy in his queerness. (EH)

Related Stories

  • Henry Rollins: Pain and Gain 6

    During one of the last nights of February, I was sitting outside my house, marveling at the feeling of spring coursing through me. The quiet excitement, the out-of-nowhere boundless optimism that always grips me when winter gives way, is one of my favorite déjà vu moments. Basically, the air smelled...
  • $100 Short

    L.A. is the most unaffordable rental market in the United States. And if you're lucky enough to be in the market to buy your own place, you're also facing some of the highest prices in the nation. Now comes word that the cash in your pocket has become less valuable...
  • Are You Ready to Vote on Weed Shop Policing?

    A proposed law that would have established policing of marijuana dispensaries statewide was essentially killed in the California legislature last week. Dale Gieringer, state coordinator of California NORML, says it's now time to take the matter directly to voters. He envisions the possibility, in 2016, of an initiative that would...
  • Porn's Condom Law Goes Down

    A proposal, dreaded by the porn industry, that would have mandated condom use for adult performers on-set throughout the state of California, was essentially defeated in the legislature today. The bill by L.A. state Assemblyman Isadore Hall would have expanded L.A. County's own mandatory condom rules to reach across the...
  • DTLA Fest Is Real

    The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the Jay Z-curated Made in America festival, which is scheduled to take place at Grand Park and on adjacent streets. See also: All-Ages Policy at Jay Z's "Made in America" Concert Is a Terrible Idea The vote came late in the game, with the...

Born This Way

Directors Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann document the legal and cultural homophobia faced by LGBT people in the small African nation of Cameroon, while also capturing extraordinary courage from its nascent queer-rights movement, from a gay man dodging death threats from his neighbors to lesbian survivors of "corrective rape" to fierce heterosexual gay-rights lawyer Alice Nkom. Born's upbeat ending, meant to celebrate the resilience of its subjects, feels forced in light of all they're up against, but it's a rare misstep in the film. (EH)

Bridegroom

A guaranteed tear-jerker, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's documentary fleshes out the heartbreaking story of Tom Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone, whose fairy-tale romance came to a tragic end with Tom's accidental death. Following that loss, Tom's family displayed staggering cruelty to Shane, including barring him from Tom's funeral. Especially timely in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, the film (whose title is taken from Tom's real and apt surname) painfully illustrates the human cost of the now-dismantled Defense of Marriage Act. (EH)

God Loves Uganda

Director Roger Ross Williams' timely documentary on the volatile battle around LGBT rights in Uganda might be the best look to date at the subject. A heady, engrossing exploration of the ways in which race, sexuality and market- and hate-driven religious conservatism imported from America are fueling the country's deadly bigotry, the film connects dots that often are obscured or simply ignored when Uganda's brutal homophobia is discussed. Fast-moving and packed with information and analysis, God Loves Uganda is one of the must-see films in this year's festival. (EH)

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia

In his last years, Gore Vidal played the role of elder statesman–as-curmudgeon, and director Nicholas Wrathall's documentary captures him in fine form in his twilight: Vidal's elegantly low-key diss of Christopher Hitchens at a book signing is masterful bitchiness. The film's strength is the way it uses Vidal's life (illustrated in vintage photos, newsreels and home movies) to catalogue 20th-century America's myriad political and social changes, with Vidal — a blue-blood class traitor — offering biting critiques of every cultural and political plot twist, right until the end. (EH)

I Am Divine

One of the most joyous and bittersweet films in this year's festival is Jeffrey Schwarz's look at the life, career and massive cultural influence of queer icon Divine. John Waters, Mink Stole and Divine's mother, among others, offer anecdotes and analysis to explain how the overweight, big-hearted, painfully shy man they knew created one of the most radical, profane pop culture figures ever. Highlights include lots of clips from rarely screened, little-seen early John Waters films. (EH)

*See also: An interview with Jeffrey Schwarz about the film

Last Summer

Lovers Luke (Samuel Pettit) and Jonah (Sean Rose) have been inseparable since they were 4, but Jonah is going to college, leaving Luke behind in their tiny Southern town. Writer-director Mark Thiedeman, collaborating with cinematographer David Goodman, is fascinated with light and texture. (He's a junior Terrence Malick.) Prepare to be patient, but don't be surprised if you're haunted days later by a long close-up of two sets of scuffed sneakers rubbing together playfully. The young men wearing those shoes are lying together on a bed, kissing, presumably, but mostly giggling, with a joy as pure as sunlight. (CW)

Lesbiana

The lesbian role in both the macro feminist movement and the gay-rights battle is too often obscured. Director Myriam Fougère's exquisite, globe-trotting history lesson on the centrality of lesbians to both movements is informative even for scholars of lesbian and feminist histories. Stock footage, mesmerizing original interviews and a political point of view that factors in issues of race and class ground the film's heady ride through issues ranging from separatism to the importance of women's art in times of revolution. (EH)

The Other Shore: The Diana Nyad Story

The greatest marathon swimmer in history, Diana Nyad, now in her 60s, is determined to complete her lifelong dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida. In this gripping documentary, director-cinematographer Timothy Wheeler (who's Nyad's nephew) takes us into the ocean with Nyad and her amazing support team. Watching Nyad brave a jellyfish attack is truly harrowing, but admiration gradually gives way to concern and then dismay as the defeated swimmer talks herself, and those around her, into yet another attempt. And then another... (CW)

Test

Five years after his virtuoso debut, The New Twenty, writer-director Chris Mason Johnson returns with a daring tonal shift. With a delightful feel for period detail (phones with long, tangled cords!), Johnson takes us to San Francisco, circa 1985. AIDS terror has everyone on edge, including Frankie (Scott Marlowe), a dancer trying his best not to panic. Are those freckles or lesions on his back? Should he take the new HIV test? Filled with gorgeous all-male ensemble dance numbers, Test is a slow build but deeply rewarding. Here's hoping it doesn't take Johnson five years to make his next film. (CW)

OUTFEST | Citywide | July 11 - 21 | outfest.org

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Wed 20
  2. Thu 21
  3. Fri 22
  4. Sat 23
  5. Sun 24
  6. Mon 25
  7. Tue 26

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office Report

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!

Slideshows

  • 20 Neo-Noir Films You Have to See
    The Voice's J. Hoberman was more mixed than most on Sin City when he reviewed it in 2005, but his description of the film as "hyper-noir" helps explain why this week's release of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has us thinking back on the neo-noir genre. Broadly speaking, neo-noir encompasses those films made outside of film noir's classic period -- the 1940s and '50s -- that nevertheless engage with the standard trappings of the genre. As with most generic labels, there isn't some universal yardstick that measures what constitutes a neo-noir film: Where the genre might begin in the '60s with films like Le Samourai and Point Blank for one person, another might argue that the genre didn't find its roots until 1974's Chinatown. Our list falls closer to the latter stance, mainly featuring works from the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. Though a number of the films mentioned here will no doubt be familiar to readers, it's our hope that we've also highlighted several titles that have been under-represented on lists of this nature. --Danny King

    See also:
    35 Music Documentaries Worth Seeing

    15 Documentaries That Help You Understand the World Right Now
  • Emmy-Nominated Costumes on Display
    On Saturday, the Television Academy and FIDM Museum and Galleries kicked off the Eighth Annual exhibition of "The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" with an exclusive preview and reception party. 100 costumes are featured from over 20 shows representing the nominees of the 66th Emmy Awards. The free to the public exhibition is located downtown at FIDM and runs from today through Saturday, September 20th. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.

Now Trending