Outfest Turns 30

7.11.2012

By Eddie Shapiro

The Los Angeles GLBT film fest returns, with three films that focus on disabilities

Pictured: Alan Cumming in Travis Fines' Any Day Now.

It’s that time of year again in Los Angeles: Outfest! Eleven days of GLBT films, a slew of soirees, industry panels, and some of the best schmoozing of the year. Here in the land of film, Outfest isn’t just a festival, it’s holy week of sorts. This marks the 30th (gulp!) Outfest and, of course, a lot has changed over the years.

The festival itself has flourished, adding year-round programming, a separate festival for people of color, the founding of the Legacy Project to preserve LGBT film, and most recently, the partnership with Newfest in New York.

Simultaneously, our stories have evolved to match the entire LGBT movement. We’ve seen films go though all of the genres: gay rights; coming out; AIDS; bisexuality; hustlers; gay marriage; aging; transgender; bears; gaybies. So it’s interesting, as we continue to assimilate and we see our ourselves portrayed more frequently in mainstream media, that filmmakers have the opportunity to explore some less-frequently explored subjects. Who’d have guessed that this year’s festival would feature three films that that focus on disability?

White Frog (pictured at left) features Booboo Stewart leading a notable cast—BD Wong, Joan Chen, Harry Shum Jr.—in a story of a teenager with Asperger’s. His journey, learning to open up to the world and emotionally connect, dovetails with a coming out story, similarly about finding and owning one’s identity. Director Quentin Lee sees the mirroring even more broadly, “Some people can say that the movie makes an analogy about being disabled and being gay, “ he says, “but remember I come from a minority perspective [Asian]. I am always thinking about characters outside the margins.”

In Any Day Now, Alan Cumming plays Rudy, a drag queen who finds himself—improbably and quite suddenly—in a relationship with Paul, and the caretaker of Marco, a teenage boy with Down Syndrome.  “Folks with Down syndrome are often called 'love children,' ” says Director Travis Fine. “There is a warmth and a sweetness to Down syndrome that is very different from a lot of other handicaps.” Marco’s sweetness is, in fact, the film’s heart, and in direct contrast to the hatred the trio encounter in trying to become a family.

In Michael Akers’ Morgan (pictured at right) finds its young hero adjusting to life after a devastating biking accident which left him paralyzed. Confined to a wheelchair, he can barely face life, let alone life as a gay man. Dating doesn’t even seem remotely possible, until he finds himself doing just that, and having to adjust to a life he’s now sharing. Akers actually conceived of the film when he was auditioning actors for an earlier one, Phoenix.“A young man called, wanting to come in but he didn’t know if the audition space was wheelchair accessible. He was a young gay kid with Cerebral Palsy,” explains Akers, who had not previously considered what gay life would be like in a wheelchair. “He talked about trying to meet people on websites and in bars. That was the germ of the idea. I think with digital cinema and digital distribution, people can tell extremely small, personal, almost pinpointed stories and have them get out there and have a voice."
Outfest runs July 12-22 in Los Angles. For tickets and information visit www.Outfest.org

READER COMMENTS ()

AddThis