Christina Ricci, Lisa Kudrow kick off Outfest Opening Night
These tough economic times aren't easy for many film festivals to wade through. Even established regulars such as Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival which is celebrating it's 27th year. Ironically, however, the sad state of independent film distribution has given the festival one of its best slates in years.
Off the record, even Outfest regulars will tell you the opening night film is usually a turd and really just an excuse to show something after the organization's lifetime achievement award is given out and everyone heads to the booze-filled after party. This year, saw the Sundance Film Festival selection "La Mission" screen and it is certainly one of the better openers of the last decade.
Produced by and starring Benjamin Bratt, "La Mission" follows a widowed hispanic man living in the Mission District of San Francisco trying to come to grips with the fact his only son is gay. While the story line may not be that original, director and screenwriter Peter Bratt (yep, Benjamin's brother) shows a side of San Francisco latino life rarely shown on the big screen or television.
The most enjoyable part of the evening, however, occurred before the film. Newsworthy, Chaz Bono, Cher's offspring who recently revealed he was transitioning from female to male, made the first speech of the night and heralded the festival for providing transgender films that encouraged him in his 10-year-battle in taking this life-changing step.
Bono was followed by Christina Ricci and Lisa Kudrow who gave a hilarious speech honoring the night's lifetime achievement winner Don Roos. The duo starred in Roos' groundbreaking indie film "The Opposite of Sex" which helped cement Ricci from a child star to serious adult actress even though she was only 17 at the time (it also proved Kudrow wasn't a one-note "Friends" wonder). Described as a "Mary Poppins" director, the actresses dished how Roos still probably knows less about the filmmaking aspect of moviemaking than any director they know, but its his writing and overall vision which has made him so successful. The speech was so great I hope Outfest puts it on YouTube, but trust me, it pretty much made the night.
Roos, who also helmed "Bounce" and the severely underrated "Happy Endings," then came to the stage and gave a very funny acceptance speech of his own, half of which couldn't be reprinted on such a family-friendly site as HitFix. (Again, someone at Outfest please put these up on YouTube for prosperity's sake.)
And besides Bratt, it turns out Josh Brolin and his lovely wife Diane Lane were also in the house racking up the celebrity quotient. Nice.
Outfest runs until Sunday, July 19 and will feature a closing night screening of Sundance dramatic competition entry "Dare," a special sneak preview of Ryan Murphy's "Glee," a singalong of "Funny Girl" and the acclaimed documentary "Prodigal Sons."
2014 | Comedy | NRSummary: Two men, six meals in six different places on a road trip around Italy. Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and ending in Capri.Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner, Claire Keelan
1977 | Documentary | NRSummary: Pumping Iron is a 1977 documentary film about the run-up to the 1975 Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition. The film focuses on Arnold Schwarzenegger and his competitors, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu. The documentary was co-directed by Robert Fiore and George Butler. It was based on the book of...Director: George Butler, Robert Fiore
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, Roger Callard
2004 | Fantasy | PGSummary: Ella of Frell is given the "gift of obedience" by a fairy, only to realize that it's more of a curse because it could separate her from her true love, Prince Charmont. Will Ella manage to conjure a "cure" that enables her to live happily ever after?Director: Tommy O'Haver
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Aidan McArdle
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1946 | Drama | NRSummary: A widower gives his daughter Anne a colt, which she names Black Beauty, so that she may learn to care for herself as she cares for the horse.Director: Max Nosseck
Cast: Mona Freeman, Richard Denning, Evelyn Ankers
2014 | Comedy | TV-MASummary: A former child actor, who also happens to be a horse, deals with celebrity and ambition in this blackly comic animated series for adults.Director: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Cast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie
1940 | Comedy | NRSummary: One of the greatest and most radiant comedies from classical Hollywood features Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart in the tale of a woman whose ex-husband walks back into her life just as she’s about to marry someone else.Director: George Cukor
Cast: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
1960 | Family | GSummary: Shipwrecked on a deserted island, the Robinson family works together to survive, and even to recreate their vision of civilization on the island.Director: Ken Annakin
Cast: John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur
2014 | Drama | NRSummary: A young woman makes a surprising disovery about the husband of her late best friend.Director: François Ozon
Cast: Anaïs Demoustier, Romain Duris, Raphaël Personnaz, Isild Le Besco
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