by Tom Nguyen
With the historic Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, there is a lot to celebrate at this year’s Outfest LGBT Film Festival in Los Angeles, one of the longest-running film festivals dedicated to exploring and celebrating the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives. The festival opens July 9 with Tig, the inspiring documentary about comedian Tig Notaro’s struggles with cancer, and the festival continues through July 19 with 166 documentaries, features, shorts, and classic films from around the world. Here are my top 10 picks!
BEST OF ENEMIES
THURSDAY | July 16 | 7:00pm | DGA 1
Amidst national turmoil during 1968, 2 commentators, liberal writer Gore Vidal and hardline conservative William F. Buckley, faced off during national television in heated debates that symbolized the country’s culture war between traditional and progressive values.
THE NEW GIRLFRIEND
SUNDAY | July 19 | 8:00pm | Theatre at Ace Hotel
A French drama about a woman who begins a love affair with her deceased best friend’s husband, who secretly dresses up in his wife’s clothes.
NAZ & MAALIK
SUNDAY | July 12 | 7:00pm | DGA 1
Two closeted Muslim teens’ secretive lives are mistaken by FBI surveillance as something more troubling.
SATURDAY | July 18 | 2:00pm | DGA 1
On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a young gay painter is torn between a lifelong obsession with his infamous best friend and a promising new romance with an older foreign pianist.
STORIES OF OUR LIVES
SUNDAY | July 12 | 5:30pm | Harmony Gold
Fictional stories shot in black and white and based on interviews with LGBTQ Kenyans living in a society where they can be jailed for their sexual orientation and gender expression.
A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS: THE AMINA PROFILE
SUNDAY | July 12 | 4:00pm | REDCAT
FRIDAY | July 17 | 5:00pm | DGA
A documentary about a Syrian girl named Amina whose blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” represented a marginalized voice in the Middle East during Syria’s Arab Spring and Sandra, the Montreal journalist who unravels the mystery of an online persona with whom she falls in love.
A SINNER IN MECCA
FRIDAY | July 10 | 7:15pm | Harmony Gold
Director Parvez Sharma makes a documentary about his harrowing mission: to complete his hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca required of every Muslim, but to do it as an openly gay man, where homosexuality in Saudi Arabia is punishable by death.
THE CULT OF JT LEROY
SATURDAY | July 11 | 7:00pm | Harmony Gold
Celebrities and rock stars worshiped JT LeRoy, the mystery author who rocked the publishing world with his tales of growing up the gender-ambiguous son of a truck-stop prostitute, until the author was exposed as a fraud.
WEDNESDAY | July 15 | 7:15pm | DGA 2
A rare look at the culture on the tropical Cape Verdean Island where Tchinda and other transgender people are central to the yearly Carnival celebrations and embraced within their society.
TWO 4 ONE
SUNDAY | July 12 | 4:30pm | DGA 2
Director Maureen Bradley tells the story of Adam, a transgender man, who accidentally becomes pregnant. In an interview with Plenitude Magazine, Bradley says the film is a labor of love and as a queer filmmaker, it’s important to her that mainstream audiences experience rich, vibrant stories with complex queer characters.