My Top Favorite Films at 2013 OUTFEST Los Angeles ...

by Oliver Carnay

The 2013 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival which ran from July 11 through July 21 was a huge success! Over the 11 days of Outfest Los Angeles, 155 films were screened from 28 countries. Here are my favorites:

FREE FALL (2013) - Marc Borgmann (great performance by German actor Hanno Koffler) has a promising career in the police department and just moved in with his girlfriend with baby on the way. Everything seems fine until he meets fellow policeman-trainer Kay Engel (Max Riemelt). During their regular jogs Marc unexpectedly was drawn deeply into Kay’s sexual advances, which is new to him. Torn between his family and his new feelings for Kay, Marc suddenly feels his life is in free fall. Beautifully directed by filmmaker Stephen Lacant, the film is a dramatic-thriller you’ll never forget. Here's the trailer:


THE GO DOC PROJECT (2013) is one of the most memorable and sexiest films at this year’s Outfest! It’s the story of ‘Doc’ (Tanner Cohen, whose credits include ‘Days of Our Lives’ and the hit movie “Were The World Mine” [2008]), a college graduate who is obsessed with a famous pin-up poster-cyber star and New York’s go-go-boy dancer ‘Go’ (Matthew Camp). And the only way he thought to get closer to him is to approach him as the subject of his first documentary film. Filmed with hand-held doc-style, Go was so natural and the camera loves him. In real life, which pretty much documented the storyline, this gorgeous and charming kid is a tattoo artist and a go-go dancer in one of top clubs in NYC (by the way, you can check out his merchandise and cologne at Adding to the plot is how the target becomes the obsessed. I won’t divulge what happened in the ending. This movie will be distributed by Wolfe Releasing under a new title "GETTING GO" --- check out the trailer here:


IN BLOOM, directed by first-time filmmaker Chris Michael Birkmeier, is a romance-drama about a the faltering relationship of two gay couple during one of tumultuous Chicago summer. Kurt (Kyle Wigent) and Paul (Tanner Cohen) was very much in love, and couldn’t care less about a serial killer hovering around the city of Chicago. While Kurt makes money by selling pots to friends and neighbors to support them, Paul works in a regular store asa merchandiser. But when Kurt (Wigent) sells drugs to one of his customers and falls for him, the relationship is threatened. Newcomer actor Kyle Wigent and Tanner Rittenhouse gives great performances and exact chemistry as two lovers who are deeply much in love with each other. Scene stealer is Jake Andrews, who is Paul’s co-worker that also plays an important part in connection with the serial killer (.. no, it’s not what you think!). Here’s the trailer:


IN THE NAME OF ... (2013) The plot may be too controversial to some but this Polish drama is not to be ignored. It was greatly executed, well-done movie from Director Malgoska Szumowska. Father Adam (effectively undertaken by multi-awarded Polish actor Andzej Chyra) is a priest assigned in a local church of a violent group of teens. When an outcast orphan and accused arsonist, Lucasz, falls into his arms one hot summer day, Father Adam feels a sudden repressed desire. Sensual tension erupts but in a tight-knitted conservative community, talks started to arise. Winner of 2013 Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, this sumptuous drama is worth your time. Here's the trailer:


OUT IN THE DARK is a drama centered on the love affair between two men on opposite sides of the Mid-East conflict: handsome Palestinian psychology student Nimr (Nicholas Jacob) is a closeted gay man unknown to his family. He meets Roy (Michael Aloni), a dashing attorney and quickly falls in love. After Israel security strips Nimr of his visa and blackmails him to be an informant, while his own brother finds out he’s gay, he was disowned and thrown out by his family. Nowhere to hide, he finds solace and comfort with the man of his life, away from his own country. Here's the trailer and some clips from the movie:


THE LAST MATCH (2012) This Cuban film is a gem to watch! Salacious and sexy, shot in Havana, Reinier (Reinier Diaz) is a rent boy supporting his unmarried girlfriend and child, but he has a gambling habit and ends up losing his earned money away. Sex with men is a business, until he met and creates a sexual relationship with a cute soccer player named Yosvani (Milton Garcia), who happens to work for his girlfriend’s father, a corrupt debt collector. When Reinier’s gambling habit puts him in great trouble with his girlfriend’s father, he persuades Yosvani to run away with him. A dramatic tragedy ensued. Here's the trailer:


BEYOND THE WALLS When Paulo, (Matila Malliarakis), a sensitive young pianist meets a brooding bartender named Llir (Gillaume Gouix) one night in Brussels in Germany, it was love at first sight. Confronted by his girlfriend, Paulo finds himself out on the streets and soon living
with Ilir. After Paulo promises Ilir that he will love him forever, the two fall in love but soon are at odds over issues of fidelity, trust, and ultimately, the law. Ilir leaves town for a concert and never comes back. Paulo finds out he was in jail. With truthful and grace, Director David Lambert paints a vivid portrait of romance, which takes us to sex shops, silent cinemas, jail cells, and mostly of two men hopelessly infatuated with the idea of love. Here's the trailer and a scene clip from the movie:


INTERNATIONAL MALE is a collection of remarkable gay shorts from around the world and compilations from this year never fails to amaze as ever. Together with BOYS’ SHORTS (another compilation of some of short films circulating in different film festivals), these two programs are worth attending to. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. Check them out and you’ll see ...


IT’S ALL SO QUIET - Beautifully shot with minimal dialogue, this feature from director and screenwriter Nanouk Leopold is quietly powerful. No wonder this was named ‘Outfest 2013 Grand Jury Award for Outstanding International Dramatic Feature Film.’ The movie takes place on an isolated Dutch farm overseen by a lonely man, Helmer (a riveting performance by Jeroen Willems, who died in December, 2012, at 50 years old, after shooting this film - the movie was dedicated to him), who is forced to look after the land and tend to his ailing father. Helmer has long accepted pain and solitude but his weary soul gets a lift upon the arrival of a farmhand (rising Dutch actor Martijn Lakemeier) looking for work. The young man awakens feelings in Helmer that prompt him, for the first time in years, to reconsider his self-inflicted isolation. Here's the trailer:


There are about FIVE DOCUMENTARIES that stands out on my list and I will recommend these movies when it comes out in theaters:

CONTINENTAL - Legendary entrepreneur Steve Ostrow, retells the rise and fall of the very first bathhouse named ‘The Continental Baths’, which was located at the heart of New York City ... this was when he was starting to come out, and had a federal court case hanging over his head. ‘The Continental Baths’ was a gay bathhouse in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel in New York City which opened in 1968 until 1974. It featured a bathhouse, a disco dance floor, a cabaret lounge, sauna rooms, an “Olympia blue” swimming pool, and a capacity to serve nearly 1,000 men, 24 hours a day. The establishment became a cultural phenomenon, a vortex of sexual liberation, glamour, and created social change - helping to legalize homosexuality in New York City, and later, helped launched the careers of such such stars as Labelle, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, among others. Ostrow who was married with two children before opening the famous bathhouse is now residing in Australia and is currently one of Australia’s most sought after vocal coach. Steve Ostrow also now runs the AIDS Council of NSW for which he founded and runs MAG (The Mature Age Gay Men’s Group), which is the largest gay organization in all of Australia. Here's the trailer:


BRIDEGROOM - Shane Bitney Crone has taken the nation by storm after posting his video “It Could Happen To You” on youtube, which initially attracted more than 3.4 million views and still counting. In the video, Shane told his heartfelt story to the world about how he couldn’t come near Tom Bridegroom’s (his lover of six years) funeral and claim his remains after Tom’s death. Tom’s conservative parents blocked Shane off from all contacts, refusing to let Shane attend Tom’s funeral after Tom’s sudden death, falling off from a nine story building in Silverlake in Los Angeles, while he was on the job working as a photographer (he was also a working actor/model). Producer and director Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (“Designing Women”), who was a friend and a fan of the couple, after hearing the tragedy, opted to help tell and produce this remarkable story. At the sold out DGA Outfest first screening, an emotional crowd gave Shane a standing ovation “It is so surreal seeing friends and supporters which makes this screening so special,” he said. BRIDEGROOM won the Audience Award for Outstanding Documentary Feature Film at this year’s Outfest. Here's the trailer of "Bridegroom" followed by the heartbreaking video "It Could Happen to You" that started this phenomenal journey and an inspirational video message from Shane entitled "It Gets Better":


TWO: THE STORY OF ROMAN AND NYRO - Legendary songwriter and multi-awarded Grammy winner Desmond Child (a creative force in the history of Hollywood’s music industry whose collaborations with musicians Cher, Alice Cooper, Ricky Martin, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Aerosmith, Kelly Clarkson, KISS, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, among other big names propelled the sale of 300 million records worldwide) and lifelong partner Curtis Shaw find in Angela Whittaker a soulmate and a surrogate to their twin children named “Roman and Nyro.” From inviro fertilization process, pre-conception, to pre-labor, combining twelve years of remarkable footage, comes an extraordinary doc film entitled “TWO: THE STORY OF ROMAN AND NYRO.” The film couldn’t arrive at a more important moment in times when debate rages over equality. It is a powerful story about a modern family, timelessly human at their core. The movie is produced by Desmond Child, Curtis Shaw, and Heather Winters (“Super Size Me” and “Class Act”), who also directed this film. Here's the trailer:


GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA - Considered one of America’s great thinkers, Gore Vidal is being featured here by director Nicholas Wrathall’s fascinating and very entertaining documentary. Defiantly out of the closet well before it was socially acceptable, Vidal alternately charms and infuriates in this wickedly funny and insightful documentary. He never shied away from his stinging opinions about the government of past presidents, his contemporaries, and the American people in general, with his famous lines -- “I Told You So!” A natural aristocrat from a powerful family, he seemed destined for politics, but instead became one of the most notorious novelist. He was blacklisted in the 40’s for writing pioneering gay novel “The City and the Pillar,” and spent much of his life moving to Italy, and just before he passed, director Wrathall captured Vidal’s with once again in a candid one-on-one interviews that reveal the volatile genius behind this one-of-a-kind iconoclast and provocateur. Here's the trailer:


THE BATTLE OF AMFAR - Academy Award winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (THE CELLULOID CLOSET, HOWL) creates a short film focusing on the landmark AIDS advocacy group spearheaded by two remarkable women: the determined and passionate Dr. Mathilde Krim and Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. The two lobbied together and used their charisma and connections to fund AIDS research and HIV treatment education. A Q&A panel which consist of producers themselves Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, with AMFAR spokesperson Cheyenne Jackson and AMFAR advocate Regan Hoffman attended. Here's the trailer: