Outfest Turns Silver
By Bryan Buss
Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, celebrated its silver anniversary on July12th when it kicked off its 2007 program with festivities at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown L.A. Following a pre-party and silent auction, Tori Spelling took to the stage and as a newly ordained minister led the crowd in a benediction. Director Bill Condon (Kinsey, Dreamgirls, Gods and Monsters) was given the 11th Annual Outfest Achievement Award, and upon accepting, he noted that at 25, the film festival was 'a twink no more.' Director Robert Cary and actors Chad Allen, Judith Light, and Robert Gant introduced the premiere film of the festival, Save Me, in which Light portrays a well-meaning, grieving Christian woman who, with her husband (Stephen Lang) runs Genesis House, a rehabilitation center for gay men. The film walked the line of TV-movie melodrama, but it didn't cross it thanks to a script, performances, and directing that were all softly nuanced, with Light being a standout among the lead four actors, all of whom were excellent. An after-party was held immediately afterward, with Absolut cocktails, appetizers from local restaurants like the Abbey and Republic, trapeze artists contorting on giant rings above the crowd, and, of course, music and dancing. Guests included Dean McDermott, Queer As Folk's Michelle Clunie, Peter Paige, and Scott Lowell, Wilson Cruz, Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland, Shear Genius's Theodore Leaf, Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas, supermodel Jenny Shimizu, Latter Days director C. Jay Cox, Project Runway's Nick Verreos, the cast of Dante's Cove, Nip/Tuck's sublime Roma Maffia, Sharon Lawrence, Bishop Jean Robinson, Amazing Race winner Reichen Lehmkuhl (with his new boyfriend), director Jonah Markowitz, Danny Pintauro, and actors Jessica Graham, Trevor Wright, Phillip Karner, Ross Thomas, Quincy Lenear, Oneil Cespedes, Deondray Gossett, Jill Bennett, Carrie Keagan, and Maurice Jamal.
As the festival continues through July 23, there will be (or have already been) a panel discussion with the cast and creators of Ugly Betty, a world premiere of a fully restored print of the groundbreaking '80s film Parting Glances, a music festival (Outfest's first), a sampling of 25 Films That Changed Our Lives: I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, High Art, Poison, and Longtime Companion (all 25 will be celebrated at the Legacy Awards on October 4), the Closing Night gala with the centerpiece film Kiss the Bride, starring Tori Spelling, James O'Shea, Philipp Karner, Joanna Cassidy, Tess Harper, and Amber Benson, and, naturally, movies, movies, movies.
For more information, including a schedule of screenings, surf to Outfest.org