Outfest Closes with Winners Including "Mudge Boy," "Girls Will Be Girls," and "Porn Theatre"

by Brian Brooks

A scene from OUTstanding Documentary Feature "The Opposite Sex, Rene's Story" by Josh Aronson. Courtesy: Outfest

Outfest, Southern California's largest film festival, wrapped up its event last weekend with its ninth-annual film competition awards presentation. Bruce Vilanch hosted the awards event at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre with celebrity presenters Paris Barclay, Malcolm Getz, Laura Innes, and Judith Light to give out the prizes in the grand jury awards, audience awards, and special programming awards categories. Michael Burke's "The Mudge Boy" took the festival's OUTstanding American narrative feature prize in the grand jury awards section. French feature "Porn Theatre" by Jack Nolot took the OUTstanding international narrative feature award, while Josh Aronson's "The Opposite Sex, Rene's Story" took the OUTstanding documentary feature prize.

Other grand jury nods went to Richard Day (OUTstanding screenwriting award) for Sundance 2003 feature "Girls Will Be Girls," while Olympia Dukakis was named OUTstanding actress in a feature film for "The Event" by Thom Fitzgerald. "Girls Will Be Girls" trio Jack Plotnick, Clinton Leupp, and Jeffery Roberson tied for the OUTstanding actor in a feature film award.

"Latter Days" by writer-director C. Jay Cox won the HBO OUTstanding first narrative feature prize in the audience awards category. The award includes $5,000 in cash from HBO. Writer-director Liz Gill's "Goldfish Memory" won the audience award for narrative feature while "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin," by Nancy Kates and Bennet Singer and "Laughing Matters" by Andrea Meyerson tied for OUTstanding documentary feature. "D.E.B.S." won the audience award for narrative short, while "Where the Girls Are" by Tricia Cooke and Jennifer Arnold took the documentary short film prize.

"Outfest celebrated its birthday in high style," commented Stephen Gutwillig, Outfest executive director in a festival release. "And we had more people joining us than ever before -- a record 42,000+ attendees. We had perhaps the highest caliber of programmed films in years, as evidenced by the numerous sold out showings, great reviews and rapturous, whole-hearted enthusiasm, all bundled in an exuberant, lively atmosphere. It's been a great 12-day party."