27 Films to Catch at Outfest 2014 in Los Angeles
List compiled by Daniel Reynolds and Jase Peeples
Ghosts. Olympians. Matt Bomer in Space. The 32nd annual Outfest Los Angeles LGBT film festival, which kicks off Thursday with its opening gala and screening of Life Partners, truly has something for everyone in its sexy, scary, star-filled lineup of over 150 films.
For your consideration, our sister publication The Advocate has compiled a list of 27 of our favorites showing in this year’s festival, which runs July 10-20. Check them out on the following pages, and see the full selection here.
Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy
Friday, July 11, 5 p.m. at Harmony Gold
As “America’s Gaysian Sweetheart,” comic performer Alec Mapa has forged a funny and fruitful career on shows like Ugly Betty and the Logo stand-up comedy series Wisecrack, in which he draws material from his life in show business and his experiences as a gay Filipino-American. However, his greatest challenge and accomplishment to date is featured in his latest documentary, Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy. Directed by Andrea James, Baby Daddy tells the story of Mapa and his partner, Jamison Hebert, as they foster and then adopt their son, Zion. Framed by scenes of life in their L.A. home, the film centers on Mapa’s recent show at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, where he shares the trials and joys of foster care and parenthood with humor, wisdom, and love.
An Honest Liar
Thursday, July 17, 5 p.m. at DGA 2
Throughout his lifetime, magician James “The Amazing” Randi has dedicated his life to exposing phonies and frauds. From so-called psychic Uri Geller to faith healers like Peter Popoff, Randi has targeted those who have sought to swindle the public with moneymaking schemes that prey on their faith and belief in the supernatural. His work in this field even won him a MacArthur Fellowship in 1986.
Through archival footage and interviews with Randi and his contemporaries, the documentary An Honest Liar follows the magician-turned-skeptic from his beginnings as the heir to Houdini to present day. But the emotional crux of the film turns around the illusions constructed by Randi, who, after a lifetime in the closet, came out in 2010 at the age of 81. The film’s revealing final act centers on Randi’s partner, Jose Alvarez, whose own secret shifts the spotlight to an issue that is vital for the LGBT community and beyond.
Tuesday, July 15, 7 p.m. at DGA 1
In Appropriate Behavior bisexual Brooklynite Shirin (Desiree Akhavan) finds herself thrown into the dating scene after a blistering breakup with her girlfriend Maxine. But the rules of courtship are not always clear or easy, and Shirin flounders throughout a series of failed dates with both men and women. The experience shines a light on her own issues that she must resolve, including coming to terms with her Iranian parents about her sexuality. Written by Akhavan, this Outfest centerpiece film is a hilarious and thoughtful portrait of a woman torn between society, self, and family in determining what exactly constitutes “appropriate behavior.”
Back on Board: Greg Louganis
Saturday, July 19, 11 a.m. at DGA 1
Director Cheryl Furjanic explores the public triumphs and personal struggles of gay Olympic champion Greg Louganis as he reemerges on the world stage to combat prejudice, promote tolerance, and return to the diving world after a long period of absence in the candid documentary film Back on Board: Greg Louganis. The film follows Louganis over a three-year period as he battles with financial troubles, returns to the sport he once dominated but was not welcomed in, and reflects on the choices, relationships, and missed opportunities of his career. This intimate portrait of the trailblazing athlete reveals the complicated life of an American legend whose talents sparked global interest in the sport of diving and whose courage and perseverance as an HIV-positive man moved a nation.
Sunday, July 13, 7:30 p.m. at Harmony Gold
While many queer films focus on the coming-of-age experience, it is rare to see one tackle the awareness of identity as early as the age of 9, and rarer still to see that story from the point of view of a working-class family in Venezuela. Bad Hair, which was acclaimed at the Toronto and San Sebastián International Film Festivals, has done so with excellence. The drama of the film spins around the tension between Marta (Samantha Castillo), who cleans houses for the wealthy after losing her job as a security guard, and her son Junior (Samuel Lange), whose obsession with hair and beauty defy his mother’s conception of how a man should behave. Directed and written by Mariana Rondon, Bad Hair sets its story of sexual awakening against the crumbling backdrop of the failed social reforms of Hugo Chavez, providing a fascinating intersection of private and public turmoil. Its spare yet powerful scenes are largely improvised by its actors, signaling the great talents at play.