Outfest 2009

7.23.2009

By Eddie Shaprio

Andrew Haigh's Greek Pete provides still more gorgeous naked flesh in a hybrid documentary/ narrative (we're told that the story is fiction, but there's no real script and the 'actors' are all playing themselves). Pete is a London rent-boy but, unlike any other rent-boy film I've seen, this one is not about how sad and sordid the life is. Pete is a charmer who's really happy in his own skin and not at all afraid to admit that all he wants is to amass a lot of money.

Prodigal Sons is Kimberly Reed's documentary that sort of got away from her. Reed set out to tell the story of her return home for her high school reunion (a place where, prior to her transition, she had been the All-American quarterback). Her adopted brother Marc, one year her senior but in the same class, had always struggled to be noticed and showing up with a new sister isn't helping. But as filming progresses it is discovered that Marc is the grandson of Rita Hayworth and Orson Wells and the story flies in fascinating directions Reed couldn't have imagined.

Training Rules gives us a classic cinematic villain in Rene Portland, the bleach blonde women's basketball coach at U Penn. Portland's success as a coach leads the school to turn a blind eye on her shocking homophobia, which had lifelong effects on some of the women in her charge.

Yun Suh's City of Borders expertly shows that, while the Palestinians and Israelis may hate each other, they are largely united in their hatred of the gay people in their own country.

Pop Star on Ice is the story of Johnny Weir, figure skating's very own Adam Lambert (at least until Lambert actually came out). Weir's skating blends both the balletic grace of female skaters and the athleticism of men, all wrapped up in one big flaming (but not out) package. He's fascinating to watch, both on and off the ice.

The only thing wrong with The Making of The Boys is its title. The insightful doc isn't really about the creation of The Boys in the Band but the contextual history of both the play and the film and how, while they changed the culture, the culture consumed the participants. More than any of the other films in this festival which try to depict how tough it was for pre-Stonewall gays, this one hits its mark with searing specificity.

And finally, a film that ranks amongst the creepiest things I've ever seen, George O'Donnell's College Boys Live, set in an Orlando web-cam house. This is one sad story of a group of very delusional people, none of whom seem to think there's anything odd about the way they live. The film feels almost like a latter-day Grey Gardens wherein the audience is taken into a house to witness a living, breathing train-wreck. As a viewer, one can't help but feel humiliated for the subjects and embarrassed to see what you see. And yet O'Donnell's skill is such that you can't take your eyes away.

So now that it's all over, what happens? The luckiest (although not necessarily the most talented) directors will come out of Outfest with distribution deals, putting these films all over the country. And in Los Angeles, we'll try to muddle through (no more open bars????) while we count the days until Outfest 2010.

For more info on Outfest, head here.

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