Outfest '07, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival running July 12 - 23, boasts twelve short film programs brimming with what the festival's website optimistically labels as "world premieres." One such gem, "Pariah," actually made its local debut a few weeks earlier at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where it walked away with the Audience Award for Best Short. And while a few other of the festival's supposed world premieres are actually unspooling in Hollywood after already having played Toronto's Inside Out, New York's NewFest, or San Francisco's Frameline31, premiere bragging rights are inconsequential when Outfest programmers have once again assembled such a world-class collection of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered-themed shorts.
Here is a rundown (in alphabetical order) of fifteen outstanding shorts screening at Outfest '07. Take all reference to premiere status with a grain of salt.
"Agnieszka (A Dark Symphony of 2039)" (Directed by Martin Gauvreau,
UK, 2006, 12 min.)
Shot on Super16 and filmed in Lodz, Poland, this experimental sci fi/fantasy film is perhaps the most visually arresting short at Outfest '07. For maximum viewing pleasure, make the effort to catch it on the big screen when it screens as part of the "Unknown Pleasures" program on Saturday, July 21.
"At the End of the Street (Na Koncu Ulicy)" (Directed by Jenifer Malmqvist, Poland, 2007, 14 min.)
Another female-centric short made in Poland, this angst-filled drama is from the helmer of "Peace Talk" and was produced at the Polish National Film School.
"Casting Pearls" (Directed by Andrea James, USA, 2006, 7 min.)
Shot on video in casting-tape style, this world premiere stars transsexual actress Calpernia Addams, who also co-wrote this one-woman showcase with director Andrea James. Noted Hollywood screenwriter Ron Nyswaner ("Philadelphia") shares producing credit with James and Addams.
"Doorman" (Directed by Etienne Kallos, USA, 2006, 18 min.)
This moody Cannes and Sundance short was produced, co-written, directed, and edited by Etienne Kallos on a thousand-dollar budget. The scenario follows a repressed doorman who is seduced into an unsuitable romantic liaison.
"Kali Ma" (Directed by Soman Chainani, India, 2007, 15 min.)
This energetic Columbia University MFA student film features a domineering mother determined to get the better of her teenage son's nemesis. Her solution: drown the bully in a backyard swimming pool.
"Love is Love" (Directed by Anne Renton, USA, 2007, 7 min.)
This light-hearted Los Angeles premiere ponders an apropos "what if" scenario--"What if straight people were the 'queer' ones?" Look for a quick cameo by Margaret Cho and an impassioned church pulpit speech from Jane Lynch.
"Make a Wish (Itmanna)" (Directed by Cherien Dabis, USA/Palestine, 2006, 12 min.)
Shot on 35mm, this Palestinian adventure story focusing on a young girl's plucky attempt to secure a birthday gift for a loved one is already a festival favorite, having played Berlin, Clermont-Ferrand, and Sundance. "Make a Wish" won Best Short at Dubai International Film Festival.
"Mommy's House" (Directed by Aron Kantor, USA, 2007, 19 min.)
Boasting high production values, star power (Veronica Cartwright), and closing credit music by the always delightful Joanna Newsom, this thriller from Outfest regular Aron Kantor ("dirtyglitter 1: Damien") can't help but impress.
"My First Time Driving" (Directed by Rebecca Feldman, USA, 2007, 18 min.)
The Feldman sisters split duties on this American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women project, with Rebecca helming this portrait of a nice Jewish girl (Sarah Utterback of "Grey's Anatomy") with a domineering mother (the great character actress Caroline Aaron).
"Pariah" (Directed by Dee Rees, USA, 2006, 29 min.)
Dee Rees's NYU film already has racked up an impressive collection of hardware, winning audience nods at LAFF and Frameline31 and Best Narrative Short at NewFest. This coming-of-age story about a Bronx teenager being torn between her straight-laced family and her out-and-proud friend is begging to become a feature. And Ms. Rees is clearly a filmmaker with a bright future. You can bet we'll be seeing more work from her at Outfest '08, '09, and '10.
"Rock Pockets" (Directed by Trevor Anderson, Canada, 2006, 6 min.)
Captivating from the first frame of film, this nostalgic piece about a school-age adventure at the local fair shot in a highly poetic style is a treat to be savored.
"The Saddest Boy in the World" (Directed by Jamie Travis, Canada, 2006, 14 min.)
This highly quirky dysfunctional family saga feels like a missing Wes Anderson short. Having already played Slamdance, Toronto, and Rotterdam, Jamie Travis's film will doubtlessly continue to screen at festivals worldwide throughout 2007.
"Serene Hunter" (Directed by Jason Bushman, France/USA, 2007, 13 min.)
Shot in the City of Love, this explicit romance explores the difficult relationship between a jaunty Frenchman and his American lover.
"Shahram and Abbas" (Directed by Dana Nechushtan & Remy van Heugten, Netherlands, 2006, 37 min.)
How best to obtain asylum in the Netherlands if you're an Iranian refugee? Pretend to be part of a gay couple, of course. Co-directors Nechushtan and Heugten have fashioned a top-notch mini-movie.
"yeah no definitely" (Directed by Dave Snyder, USA, 2006, 15 min.)
Fresh from a screening at Toronto's Inside Out fest, Dave Snyder's portrait of two college-age dudes driving out to Scarsdale for a party is an excerpt from his feature screenplay. Let's hope Snyder gets funding in a hurry so we can see the full-length story at Outfest '08.
[Editor's Note: indieWIRE received an email from Outfest programmers stating that the erroneous information about premiere status on the festival website was caused by a computer programming glitch and efforts have been made to correct the information.]
[Outfest '07 continues screening short film programs though July 23. Consult the website http://www.outfest.org/fest2007/index.html for more information.]
[Kim Adelman is the author of "The Ultimate Filmmaker's Guide to Short Films."]