Outfest 2008: The 26th Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival announces line-up (July 9-21 2008)

Writer-Director Donna Deitch to Receive 2008 Outfest Achievement Award;

Numerous Films to World Premiere at Nation’s Leading LGBTQ Film Festival;

Festival Focuses on Politics in Election Year

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 11, 2008) - Outfest, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing, showcasing and protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media, has announced an innovative and diverse programming lineup for Outfest 2008: The 26th Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The nation’s leading LGBTQ festival and the oldest continuously running film festival in the city will be held July 9 to 21, 2008, one day longer than previous years. In addition to the 212 films from 25 countries, Outfest hosts over a dozen panels and special events and nearly 50 parties, for more than 50,000 attendees at eight venues across Los Angeles including West Hollywood, Hollywood , Santa Monica and Downtown.

Among the impressive list of films and Hollywood celebrities involved with this year’s festival, notable events include: Outfest 2008 Achievement Award presentation to Emmy winning writer-director Donna Deitch; Laurie Lynd’s heartwarming feature, “Breakfast with Scot” starring Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”) and Ben Shenkman (“Angels in America”) as the Opening Night Gala film; and Stewart Wade’s new star-studded film “Tru Loved” as the Closing Night Gala film. Other gala screenings include: the riveting “Affinity” as the Dramatic Centerpiece, the enlightening Documentary Centerpiece “A Jihad for Love,” the first-ever Platinum Centerpiece featuring the lyrical and visually absorbing “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell,” and the enchanting “Were the World Mine,” which will be screened on Awards Night. The festival series, Outing Politics, offers a collection of eye-opening films that present the many ways U.S. politics has an impact on LGBTQ people’s lives.

“I continue to be impressed by the caliber of filmmaking and the diversity of subjects tackled by Outfest filmmakers each year and 2008 is no exception”, says Kirsten Schaffer, Outfest’s Interim Executive Director. “The stories are passionate, entertaining and meaningful – they provide audiences a window into the lives of LGBTQ people that not only shows their struggles, but presents the same joys and accomplishments seen in ’straight’ films.”

Outfest 2008 continues its tradition of cultivating new talent and films by hosting a number of world premieres including: “A Place to Live,” “Friends and Lovers: Ski Trip 2,” “Laughing Matters…Next Gen,” “The New Twenty,” “The Ode” and “Sizzle.” Among the big screen debuts, bourgeoning filmmaker Chris Mason Johnson and his dramatic feature “The New Twenty” have also been chosen as one of this year’s Four in Focus films which celebrates first-time feature film directors who represent the next wave of hot new talent. Other Four in Focus directors include Brian Pera for “The Way I See Things,” Jennifer Phang for “Half-Life” and 20-year-old Luke Eberl for “Choose Connor.”

“Many LGBTQ filmmakers get their start at Outfest and this year definitely features some stars in the making,” stated Outfest Director of Programming, Kimberly Yutani. “We’re honored to showcase talented new filmmakers and help them and their films achieve the recognition they deserve.”

As part of Outfest’s mission to protect the past, showcase the present, and nurture the future, the Outfest Legacy Project will unveil its second LGBTQ film restoration project of the seminal 1978 film, “Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives.” The film was directed by the Mariposa Group, a collective of talented filmmakers that includes Rob Epstein who went on to win Academy Awards for his pioneering documentaries “Common Threads: Stories of the Quilt” and “The Times of Harvey Milk” (which is also screening at Outfest 2008).

Outfest 2008 Achievement Award Recipient – Donna Deitch

Donna Deitch, the recipient of the 2008 Outfest Achievement Award, is an accomplished writer-director who secured her place in LGBT film history with “Desert Hearts”, arguably the most beloved lesbian film of all time. She won an Emmy for “The Devil’s Arithmetic” starring Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy and earlier in her career, Deitch grabbed the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who chose her to direct the Emmy-nominated “The Women of Brewster Place.” She then returned to indie film with her heart-wrenching personal documentary “An Angel on My Shoulder” that screened at Outfest 1998, and later directed the moving “Common Ground.” An accomplished TV director, Deitch’s dozens of credits include the adored teen lesbian series “South of Nowhere” and episodes of prominent TV shows such as “NYPD Blue,” “ER” and “Heroes.” Kirsten Schaffer states: “Outfest is thrilled to honor Donna Deitch with the 2008 Achievement Award. She is a gifted director and a pioneer who continues to bring groundbreaking images of women and lesbians to the screen.”

Opening Night Gala Screening – “Breakfast with Scot”

On July 9th at 8:00PM at LA’s historic Orpheum Theatre, Outfest will present its 26th Opening Night Gala featuring “Breakfast with Scot,” a wonderfully funny and heartwarming tale about a makeshift family engaged in a struggle over hockey pucks and perfume. Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”) and Ben Shenkman (“Angels in America”) star as a fairly closeted gay couple that become temporary guardians of a recently orphaned 11-year-old boy, played by newcomer Noah Bernett, who has a penchant for feathered boas, rose hand cream and all that glitters. Expertly directed by Laurie Lynd, based on the award-winning book by Michael Downing, this poignant film wraps tough issues of parenthood, relationships and masculinity in a blanket of comedy that will make you laugh out loud and tug at your heart strings.

It wouldn’t be Outfest without the legendary after-parties and Outfest 2008 will not disappoint with the infamous, on-premise Opening Night Gala after-party attracting thousands of bacchanalians, plus food from over 30 LA restaurants and purveyors.

Closing Night Gala Screening – “Tru Loved”

The Closing Night Gala will return to the Orpheum on July 21st at 8:00PM with “Tru Loved”, a charming teen romantic comedy. To her classmates, Tru’s (Najarra Townsend) life is anything but normal- she has two moms and two dads. She bravely sets out to establish a gay-straight alliance at her school and in the process gets everyone around her to toss out their preconceived notions, including her high school mates, who learn a precious lesson about being true to themselves.

Outfest Legacy Project Gala – “Word it Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives” (Restoration Premiere)

“Word is Out” is the second feature film restored by the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation, a collaboration between the UCLA Film & Television Archive and Outfest, that will be shown on Monday, July 14th at 8:00 PM at the DGA. Originally created in 1978 by a group of young filmmakers, the movie deals with people’s experience of being different. Even though it has a homosexual theme, at heart, “Word is Out” is more of a touching reportage that captures the lives of 26 people- ranging in age from 18 to 77, from San Francisco to New Mexico to Boston . While walking the fine line between tears and smiles, this feature is sure to please anyone with a heart and a life experience. Documentary subjects, members of Mariposa Film Group (including Academy Award winning director Rob Epstein) and Film Preservationist Ross Lipman will be on hand to answer questions.

Dramatic Centerpiece – “Affinity”

On Wednesday, July 16th at 7:00PM, the DGA will showcase Outfest’s Dramatic Centerpiece, “Affinity”, a film based on Sarah Waters’ award-winning novel. Set in Victorian London, Affinity follows the life of Margaret Prior, an upper-class woman desperately trying to move past a lost love and her father’s recent death. She volunteers at Millbrook, a women’s prison, where she discovers new feelings for one of the detainees, Selina Dawes, and her special supernatural powers. Passion, love and romance set the tone for Margaret’s new-found interest, while leading the way to a stunning and unexpected finale.

Documentary Centerpiece – “A Jihad For Love”

From director Parvez Sharma comes “A Jihad for Love”- screening at the DGA on Thursday, July 17th at 7:00 PM. What started off as a 20-minute work-in-progress at Outfest 2002, is now a groundbreaking film about love and faith in the Islamic society. Sharma’s brave subjects speak openly about the challenges of being gay/lesbian and Muslim: They share their deeply personal struggles to reconcile a faith that is part of the fabric of who they are, with a faith that also rejects them for who they love. Shot in twelve countries and nine languages, Sharma and producer Sandi DuBowski (Outfest award-winner “Trembling Before G-D”) have created an enlightening film that not only explores the complex global intersections between Islam and homosexuality, but a universal struggle to love unconditionally.

Platinum Centerpiece – “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell”

On Tuesday, July 15th, at 7:00 PM at the DGA, Outfest presents an amazing portrait of the avant-garde composer/singer-songwriter/ cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell. The film follows his life from his humble beginnings in Oskaloosa , Iowa to his death from AIDS in 1992. By tying together pieces of Russell’s life, memories from his surviving boyfriend, parents and collaborators, director Matt Wolf gives life to a reflection of timeless music that will inspire generations to come.

Awards Night Screening – “Were the World Mine”

The sweet, funny and delightful “Were the World Mine”, that puts a spin on William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, will be shown on Sunday, July 20th, 7:30 PM at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. When Timothy (Tanner Cohen) and Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker) get cast opposite each other, games of love, mischief and wild imagination start to take place. The all-boys high school gets so complicated that not even the coach is able to shut down the production and spare his boys from playing women’s roles. This whimsical film filled with musical numbers, theatrical fantasy and adolescent realities will bring smiles to anyone watching.

Outfest Panel Discussions & Special Events

This year’s special events and panel discussions are both entertaining and thought-provoking. LOGO’s “Sordid Lives: The Series” makes its Los Angeles premiere and brings together director Del Shores and its all-star cast including Margaret Cho, Rue McClanahan (“The Golden Girls”) and Olivia Newton John. “Exploring the ‘B’ in LGBT” panel discussion takes a closer look at the bisexual community which has long faced disbelief, suspicion, and hostility from both the greater heterosexual society and the gay and lesbian community.

The Outfest outdoor sing-along has been a longtime festival favorite and this year’s choice of “ South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” is sure to be a hoot. In years past, special guests from the sing-along film have made appearances to add to the revelry. The Outfest Screenwriting Lab, now in its sixth year, has generated a host of projects in various stages of production, including “Kiss the Bride,” Outfest 2007’s closing night film. Excerpts of five new scripts from 2008 will be directed and performed by some of today’s favorite queer-friendly actors and filmmakers.

Outfest’s Special Programming

The expanded Platinum section, Outfest’s showcase of cutting edge work in a range of mediums, will bestow its second-ever tribute to provocative filmmaker, photographer and columnist Bruce LaBruce, a highly influential figure in queer film who continues to break conventions, taboos and boundaries. He will appear in-person at two screenings: “Otto; Or, Up With the Dead People” screening on Friday, July 11 at 9:30pm and his award presentation preceding the “Super 8 ½” screening July 13 at REDCAT Theater at 5:00pm.

Five thought-provoking films with a common thread will be featured in Outfest’s Festival Series entitled Outing Politics. The collection of emotional and sometimes funny projects takes US politics out of the closet and shows the ways in which it has made an impact on the LGBT community. They include: “Choose Connor,” “Ask Not,” “The Times of Harvey Milk,” “Sizzle,” and “Karl Rove, I Love You.”

Plus Boom!, the second annual Outfest Music Festival, will showcase a diverse lineup of musicians from rock to hip hop with an emphasis on indie appeal who appeal to a LGBTQ audience. The Troubadour in West Hollywood plays host venue on July 19 and will feature bands such as Yo Majesty, DJ Ipek, Macka and more.

For more information and for a complete listing of films in the Festival, log on to www.Outfest.org or call 213-480-7065. Festival tickets go on sale on June 9th to Outfest members and on June 16th to the general public. Special ticket packages are also available. Outfest’s 26th film festival is presented by HBO® and the grand sponsors are Absolut and Heineken.

About Outfest

Outfest is a leading showcase for diverse, international lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) film and video. Since 1982, Outfest has presented nearly 4500 film and video titles for audiences of well over half a million people.