Outfest announced the gala films for the 29th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The fest will kick off with Rashaad Ernesto Green’s “Gun Hill Road” and close with “The Perfect Family,” starring Kathleen Turner. “This year’s selection of galas represent some of the most acclaimed and thematically diverse films of the year,” stated Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Outfest. “These movies have huge potential for cross-over appeal, and we are thrilled and proud to showcase them at the festival this July.”
The complete line-up will be released June 7th. The festival runs July 7-17 in Los Angeles.
Below is the full list of gala films, courtesy of Outfest.
Opening Night Gala – “Gun Hill Road” (July 7 at 8:00pm – Orpheum Theatre)
After three years in prison, macho Enrique (Esai Morales) returns home to the Bronx and finds things changed. His wife, Angela (Judy Reyes), is distant, and his teenage son, Michael, has come out as Vanessa, a transgender woman. Unable to accept his child for who she is now, Enrique clings to his masculine ideals while Angela attempts to hold the family together by fiercely protecting Vanessa. Still under the watchful eye of his parole officer, Enrique must become the father he needs to be or once again risk losing his family and freedom.
The heart of “Gun Hill Road” lies in two places: the richly drawn character of Michael/Vanessa (newcomer Harmony Santana is unforgettable) and a father’s inability to escape the vicious cycle of his life. Writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green’s first feature film is told with gentle humor, sensitivity and a deep understanding of the environment that defines its inhabitants.
U.S. Dramatic Centerpiece – “Circumstance” (July 12 at 8:00pm – DGA 1)
In a vibrant contemporary Tehran, two beautiful teenage girls struggle for their personal freedom. Atafeh and her best friend Shireen are full of youthful exuberance and a healthy streak of rebellion as they drink, smoke and go dancing at underground parties. When Atafeh’s brother Mehran returns from drug rehab, he embraces a new way of life and joins the Morality Police – much to the surprise of his affluent and liberal parents – and becomes increasingly obsessed with and involved in Atafeh and Shireen’s intimate relationship.
Nikohl Boosheri (Atafeh), Sarah Kazemy (Shireen) and Reza Sixo Safai (Mehran) smolder on screen in their fearless and complex performances. A feast for the senses, “Circumstance” is the original vision of writer/director Maryam Keshavarz, whose first feature effort creates a stylish and sensual coming-of-age film, presenting a timely and important story of a new generation of women in Iran who dream of a place where they can be free.
Winner of the Audience Award: Dramatic at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
International Dramatic Centerpiece – “Weekend” (July 13 at 8:00pm – DGA 1)
British filmmaker Andrew Haigh, winner of Outfest 2009’s Artistic Achievement Award for his first feature, “Greek Pete,” returns to the festival with his second feature – already an acclaimed award-winner itself. With the same intimacy and rare authenticity of his impressive debut, “Weekend” explores the relationship between two young gay men that evolves from a drunken one-night stand into a dynamic and complex portrait of modern gay romance over the course of a booze, drug and sex fueled weekend, building to a delicate emotional climax.
The chemistry between coleads Tom Cullen and Chris New lights fire to a precise yet free-flowing script with a natural rhythm that uses the confines of its construct to explicitly and unapologetically explore greater themes to connect in a way that transcends sexuality without ever denying it. “Weekend” advances the gay narrative – both filmic and socially – in ways that few films have.
Winner of the 2011 SXSW Emerging Visions Audience Award.
Documentary Centerpiece – “Hit So Hard” (July 14 at 8:00pm – Ford Theatre)
Patty Schemel, the hard hitting drummer of Courtney Love’s seminal rock band Hole, is not only a master of the sticks, but a true survivor. After growing up as an outsider near Seattle she shot to stardom in the early 90’s, engulfed by the music scene and ensuing popularity. She documented her life as a rock star – at band practice, on the road, backstage and in front of millions of people. She captured rare, precious moments behind the scenes with Hole and Kurt Cobain and the intense highs and lows of these dynamic relationships often shaped by drug abuse and an addiction that consumed her and almost killed her.
Director P. David Ebersole has masterfully woven Patty’s videos with contemporary interviews of Patty, her bandmates (including Love, Melissa Auf der Maur and Eric Erlandson) and other important figures in Patty’s life to craft a story that is as beautiful and inspirational as it is a significant cultural record.
One of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Indie Faces,” David’s writing/directing includes “Desire” (Fox TV), “Wicked Wicked Games” starring Tatum O’Neal, STRAIGHT RIGHT (Sundance Channel), the award-winning short “Death in Venice, CA,” last year’s Outfest short “Swimming” starring Gretchen Phillips and Phranc; and he co-produced “Stranger Inside” (HBO), directed by Cheryl Dunye, produced by Jim McKay, Michael Stipe and Effie Brown.
Broad Stage Gala – “3” (July 11 at 8:00pm – Broad Stage)
In one of his most singular and stylish films, German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) returns to Berlin for the setting of this seductive drama centered on an upscale middle-aged couple whose routine coexistence is upset when they separately encounter the same man and explore their sexual fluidity. Complementing an inventive narrative with a slick visual polish and dynamic soundtrack, Tykwer crafts a sophisticated film full of ideas and themes that range from erotic to darkly comic to cruel and fatalistic. Sophie Rois (Hanna) and Sebastian Schipper (Simon) deliver pitch-perfect performances as the married couple, and Devid Striesow brings a unique dimension to his role as their unwitting lover, Adam. When a complication threatens to expose their carefully guarded secrets, the resolution is both surprising and inevitable.
“3” premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and earlier this year at the 2011 Berlinale.
Closing Night Gala – “The Perfect Family” (July 17 at 8:00pm – Ford Theatre)
How far will one housewife go to win the Outstanding Catholic of the Year Award? Dedicated churchgoer Eileen Cleary (Kathleen Turner, in a heartbreaking performance) will bend over backwards to portray her brood as the Catholic ideal, even though her son (Jason Ritter) has just left his wife for the woman he really loves, and Eileen’ daughter Shannon (Emily Deschanel) is about to marry her lesbian lover. Eileen’s struggle to reconcile her faith and her goal of perfection with the reality of her life makes for an unforgettable comedy-drama, bolstered by a talented cast that also includes Richard Chamberlain.