First, here is a listing of the winners from this year's Outfest Film Festival:
Special Programming Award for Freedom:
I AM A WOMAN NOW, Directed by Michiel van Erp
Special Programming Award for Artistic Achievement:
SHE MALE SNAILS, Directed by Ester Martin Bergsmark
Audience Award for Outstanding Documentary Short Film:
A FORCE OF NATURE, Directed by Barbara Kopple
Audience Award for Outstanding Dramatic Short Film:
THE FIRST DATE, Directed by Janella Lacson
Audience Award for Outstanding Documentary Feature Film:
I STAND CORRECTED, Directed by Andrea Meyerson
Audience Award for Outstanding Dramatic Feature Film:
ANY DAY NOW, Directed by Travis Fine
Audience Award for Outstanding First U.S. Dramatic Feature Film:
MOSQUITA Y MARI, Directed by Aurora Guerrero
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary Short Film:
THE DEVOTION PROJECT: MORE THAN EVER, Directed by Antony Osso
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Short Film:
DOL (FIRST BIRTHDAY), Directed Andrew Ahn
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary Feature Film:
WILDNESS, Directed by Wu Tsang
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding International Dramatic Feature Film:
MY BROTHER THE DEVIL, Directed by Sally El Hosaini
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film:
Fenessa Pineda, MOSQUITA Y MARI
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film:
Alan Cumming, ANY DAY NOW
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Screenwriting:
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
Grand Jury Award for Outstanding U.S. Dramatic Feature Film:
KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, Directed by Ira Sachs
Unfortunately, I didn't get much of an opportunity to catch many films at this year's festival but I did manage to see two of the films that were screened at the very first Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival thirty years ago; one I saw originally in a movie theater back in 1982 which had a huge impact on me and the other was a provocative foreign-language film that I had desperately wanted to see but unable to when it was originally released.
"Making Love" is the groundbreaking film that was one of the first studio films that featured realistic gay characters. It's the story of a happily married couple (Kate Jackson and Michael Ontkean) but the husband has been keeping a secret; he is sexually attracted to men. A sexy, free-spirited writer (Harry Hamlin) enters his life and he is torn between continuing with his comfortable relationship or beginning a new life as a gay man. The film still holds up very well due to it's beautifully, well-written screenplay and solid performances, most especially by Ms. Jackson. After the Outfest screening, there was a special treat with director, Arthur Hiller, screenwriter, Barry Sandler and actor, Hamlin present to discuss the film with the audience.
I saw "Making Love" when I was nineteen and still trying to make sense of my sexuality. I went with a close friend and we watched in uncomfortable silence, without really say much about the film after it was over. A few years later, we eventually came out to each other (after he confessed he had been secretly dating a mutual friend), and we could finally gush about what a moving and life-changing event the film was for both of us.
"Taxi Zum Klo" or "Taxi To The Toilet" was a 1981 German film which featured hardcore sex that I had heard about but sadly knew was never going to reach a theater in my suburban neighborhood in Michigan.
The film is about an elementary school teacher who struggles with wanting to maintain a relationship with one man but also be allowed to fulfill his sexual desires whenever and wherever he wanted which includes bathhouses and public restrooms."Taxi", which takes place not long before AIDS changed the landscape, is certainly dated with the ending too abrupt and unsatisfactory but it was truly revolutionary at the time as this film presented an openly gay man who lived his life with no apologies.
I'm glad I finally got to see the film despite it taking over thirty years.