Outfest Releases 2012 Summer Lineup

The schedule for Outfest 2012 was released yesterday, showcasing highlights to look out for both in Los Angeles and other LGBT film festivals going on around the country over the course of the year.  This marks the 30th anniversary of LA’s Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which remains one of the largest and most influential in the world.

Opening the film festival will be the new documentary, Vito, which chronicles the life and advocacy of GLAAD-cofounder and Celluloid Closet author Vito Russo.  Truly one of the movement’s most influential champions, former film student Russo recognized how crucial stories and the media were to the way that society viewed the LGBT community and ultimately treated us.  His writing helped define a new era of study and activism that continues to this day.   Jeffrey Schwarz’ film lovingly examines what inspired Russo to take on the roles he did, and the tricky waters he had to navigate during one of the most volatile periods in our community’s history.  The screening will be preceded by the bestowing of Outfest’s 16th Annual Achievement Award on legendary director John Waters.

Other festival gala highlights include Ira Sach’s elegant and poignant film Keep the Lights On, which will play as the fest’s dramatic centerpiece, and the electrifying coming-of-age drama Young & Wild (trailer NSFW) from Chilean director Marialy Rivas, which will serve as the international centerpiece.  A perfect companion to Vito, the powerful and emotional ACT UP documentary How to Survive a Plague will be the documentary centerpiece, while Outfest’s Fusion program will be well represented by the Los Angeles set teen drama Mosquita Y Mari.  Rounding out the fest on closing night will be Chris Colfer’s highly anticipated screenwriting debut, Struck By Lighting, which sees him portraying a somewhat devious teen that blackmails his classmates into contributing to his literary magazine.

There are also a number of standouts among the dozens of other films playing at the fest that shouldn’t be missed.  Travis Fine’s Any Day Now chronicles the legal struggles of a 1970’s gay couple (Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt) when they attempt to adopt a boy with down’s syndrome before he falls through the institutional cracks.  Partially based on a true story and from a screenplay that spent 40 years in limbo, this moving film is even more remarkable for how it addresses the issues and prejudices many LGBT families still face today.

An Asian-American family comes to terms with the truth about the son who passed away in White Frog, starring Joan Chen, B.D. Wong, and Glee’s Harry Shum Jr.  Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker star as an elderly lesbian couple who embark on a road trip to get married in Canada married in Cloudburst.  An engaged woman finds her life plan challenged when she falls for her fiancé’s sister in the charming Swedish film Kiss Me.  The misery of the closet is never more apparent than in Beauty, a wonderfully studied and ultimately disturbing story of a South African man whose double life unravels after he becomes obsessed with his daughter’s boyfriend.  And the life and work of Bishop Gene Robinson is examined in the deceptively powerful Love Free or Die from director Macky Alston.

And those are just among the films we’ve seen or anticipated.  Half the fun of attending your local LGBT film festival are the unexpected gems you discover when giving first run features a chance, so be sure to keep an eye on what might be coming through your city or state.  In the meantime, Southern California residents (and prospective visitors) can see the full Outfest lineup, download a program book, and buy tickets here.  You can check out trailers for the films by clicking on the links above.  Outfest runs from July 12-22.