With 87 short films scheduled to play Outfest 2010, culling a list consisting of only ten must-see shorts is extremely difficult due to the impressive roster put together by the fest’s programmers. Leaving off festival circuit favorites like Jenifer Malmqvist’s “Birthday” and ignoring “Howl” star James Franco’s own directorial work in “The Feast of Stephen” seem unjustifiable. But the line must be drawn somewhere, and those two shorts have already been given their fair share of attention. Here, in alphabetical order, is a sampling of ten less well-known but definitely outstanding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender shorts screening July 8 – 18 in Los Angeles.
“Bella Maddo” - Janice Danielle directs and stars in this 14-minute crazed-mother soap opera, which has the unique hook of an all-transgendered cast playing non-transgender characters. The acting is all over the map, but that only adds to the piece’s charm. This is one film that audiences will remember long after the screening is over. “Bella Maddo” plays in the festival’s always-popular outrageous comedy shorts program, which this year is titled “From Uranus to Titicaca.”
“Broddy's Boy” – Yes, director Carl-Gustaf Nykvist is the son of Sven. But that is the least interesting thing about this fascinating 37-minute Swedish documentary about a dying yet still vibrant man reflecting back on his life, especially the lies his family fed him during childhood.
“Close (Pod Bluzka)”– In a total running time of 9 minutes, Lucia Von Horn Pagano delivers a captivating look at young love as her documentary camera focuses in on a group of Polish girls. This short also played Frameline in San Francisco last month.
“Damelo Todo (Give Me Everything)” – This 10-minute hybrid documentary/narrative piece provides an all-access look at the culture and history of a long-established Los Angeles Latino gay bar called the Silver Platter. The short is actually part of a larger piece about Latina transgender women who build community with queer performance artists at the bar, which director Wu Ingrid Tsang plans to complete by the end of the year.
“Fourplay: San Francisco” - Kyle Henry’s 27-minute drama, executive produced by Michael Stipe and Jim McKay and written by Carlos Treviño, world premieres at Outfest. The first-rate drama centers on a transvestite prostitute (Paul Soileau, excellent) who travels to Marin County to service a bed-ridden married man. This is the first of a quartet of bundled stories (the others are set in Austin, Tampa, and New Haven) that will be showcased at festivals and online throughout the coming year. In the meantime, “Fourplay: San Francisco” will be available online at IndiePix after July 13.
“Gayby” – In 12 minutes, director Jonathan Lisecki showcases two wonderful comedic performances from Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas as two old college buddies who come together for one night to make a baby the old fashioned way. “Gayby” played Slamdance earlier this year. Note: Matthew Wilkas also appears in another terrific short playing at Outfest, Alain Hain’s “Curious Thing."
“Gaysharktank.com” – Director Guy Shalem and his huge cast (including blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Jai Rodriquez) clearly had a good time making this 15-minute Chatroulette parody. Just when you worry that the fun concept has overstayed its welcome, Shalem quickly wraps it up. This one should definitely be an audience-pleaser.
"Public Relations” - Gianna Sobol’s accomplished 17-minute love story about two assistants working for mean bosses should play incredibly well to the industry-heavy Outfest crowd. The Lark cupcake scene alone should endear this film to local audiences. However, this short has already proved to be popular with festival goers throughout North America, having played Seattle International, Atlanta, and Inside Out Toronto.
“Samaritan” – This 29-minute drama by Norwegian helmer Magnus Mork centers around an unexpected relationship that develops between a lonely middle-aged man and an illegal immigrant worker. The dining room dance scene and the unsettling ending are just two of the many memorable moments in this film.
“You Move Me” – Natural performances from writers/stars Drae Campbell and Rebecca Drysdale make director Gina Hirsch’s breakup comedy feel like it should be a feature. After spending only 12 minutes with these two friends driving around in a U-Haul, the audience will be eager for their further adventures.
Outfest schedules the majority of its shorts into nine dedicated programs screening at the Directors Guild theater and Laemmle Sunset 5. Of the above, only “Damelo Todo” precedes a feature, the documentary “Forever's Gonna Start Tonight." Outfest, which is the oldest film festival in Los Angeles, runs July 8 - 18.