Outfest, otherwise known as the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, is kicking off its 31st edition tomorrow night with a screening of David Sedaris adaptation "C.O.G." What will follow is 10 days showcasing the best LGBT cinema of the past year, which -- in something of a rare occasion -- isn't simply one or two great films and then countless filler.
It's been a pretty exceptional year for LGBT films, and if you're in Los Angeles, Outfest provides a great opportunity to see why. Indiewire offers 13 best bets for 2013 below, though there's also quite a bit more where that came from, so check out the festival's full program here.
"After Tiller" (directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson)
One of the best docs to debut at Sundance earlier this year, first time filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's "After Tiller" takes on the timely topic of abortion rights in America. The film's title refers to George Tiller, one of the few remaining late-term abortion doctors who was shot and killed by an anti-abortion activist in 2009 (while attending church, no less). The film itself follows the daily work and lives of the only four doctors (including one who identifies as LGBT, in case you're wondering why it's at Outfest) that still perform such abortions after Tiller's murder. It's a remarkably moving tribute to their brave work (a thought seconded by Indiewire's Eric Kohn in his Sundance rave).
One of the biggest and often ignored issues facing LGBT communities today and tomorrow is the fact that there is a rapidly aging population within them that is not properly being cared for. In the United States -- where PJ Raval’s documentary takes place -- there are an estimated 2.4 million LGBT Americans over the age of 55. As a demographic, they are five times less likely to access social services than their heterosexual counterparts, half as likely to have health insurance coverage, and 10 times less likely to have a caretaker if they fall ill. And unfortunately there is not much attention being paid to them by their younger LGBT counterparts (or anyone else, for that matter). Which is one of the reasons that PJ Raval's documentary "Before You Know It" is such a crucial new edition to the LGBT doc canon. Following three different LGBT seniors each facing a different array of issues, it affectingly personifies an increasingly forgotten generation of queer folks (and makes you want to become friends with all of them).
"Bridegroom" (directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason)
You may recall this heartbreaking viral video from early last year, in which Shane Bitney Crone detailed the beautiful relationship he had with longterm partner Tom Bridegroom before his tragic death the year prior. Bridegroom's family -- who had never accepted his sexuality or his relationship -- shut him out of the funeral. Crone decided to make a video about it, which got over 4 million hits and and attracted the attention of Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. She assembled the massive amount of footage Crone and Bridegroom had filmed together into this endlessly affecting doc (which raised $384,375 on Kickstarter, becoming the most-funded documentary film project in the history of crowd-funding to date). After being introduced at the Tribeca Film Festival (where it world premiered) by none other than Bill Clinton, it heads to Outfest this weekend.
"C.O.G." (directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez)
Outfest's opening night film is also the very first feature-length adaptation of the work of gay literary icon David Sedaris, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s "C.O.G." manages to both do justice to Sedaris' unique voice and sense of humor while giving it a stamp of the director’s own. Based on an essay from Sedaris's 1997 collection "Naked," both the literary and cinematic versions of "C.O.G." detail the experience Sedaris himself (played by the wonderful Jonathan Groff in the film) had when he travelled to rural Oregon to work as an apple picker. Through encounters with a glorious variety of locals, the twentysomething Sedaris came to considerable revelations about his religion ("C.O.G." stands "Child of God," an acronym that one of those said locals proudly self-identifies with) and sexuality. Expanding on those two themes, Alvarez makes good on the promise of his 2009 directorial debut "Easier With Practice," keeping Sedaris fans happy in the process.