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The Gayest Thing In Los Angeles: Outfest 2002 Opens
by Thom Fowler

Thursday, July 11 was the Outfest 20th Anniversary Gala Celebration at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. This years Gala theme was Sex, Life, Love. The gala opened with a VIP cocktail party and silent benefit auction. The festival then broke with tradition and showed a shorts program instead of a feature.

The screening opened with a surprise appearance by Kylie Minogue who thanked the audience for their support. After Margaret Cho gave a stirring “we gotta stick together – you don’t see no Hedwig and the Angry Inch cup at Burger King” speech, Judith Light gave a tearful “see how far we’ve come” speech.

After the screening, over 20 restaurants provided samples from their menus for a hungry crowd in a patio just outside the theatre. The food tables surrounded a white tile dance floor straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Near the dance floor was a Ferris Wheel adding extra flash to the lights turning the courtyard into a disco. It took a while for people to warm up to the music but eventually the dance floor filled up and it looked the way an actual disco would. The only thing missing was the mirror ball but the effect was provided by the outfits of the electric cowboys dispensing Perrier.

I staked out a spot near the bar to people watch since my drag queen friend, Jersey Shore, couldn’t make it and I had to go it alone. It’s easier that way anyway since I’m only distracted by what I’m supposed to be paying attention to. I chatted with Candyass, Lauren Ambrose who plays Claire Fisher on HBO’s “Six Feet Under," Judith Light, and LA Times film critic Kevin Thomas. They are in that picture up there in that order.

The shorts screened were a Lesbi-Gay retrospective of old and new shorts setting the tone for the rest of the festival. My favorites were Majorettes in Space, a French short by David Fourier and Ballad of the Skeletons by Gus Van Sant, featuring Allen Ginsberg reading his poem of the same name. Van Sant is a prior recipient of the Outfest Outstanding Achievement Award.

I talked to Shannon Kelley, Director of Programming before the show but he was getting swept in one direction and I was getting swept in another so I didn’t get to ask him about the programming! He assured himself of a job next year by writing in the festival guide, “There is … always much newness to take on. Legions of emerging filmmakers still challenge us with provocative and forward-looking perspectives on queer life.” He was out on the red carpet greeting people and graciously accepting the congratulations he and everyone who worked to put on Outfest deserve. And if you ever think working for no pay never gets you anywhere but exploited, Kelley got his prestigious post by starting out as a volunteer.

This years winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award is Strand Releasing for providing distribution and support for numerous Gay and Lesbian Films, including Head On and Edge of Seventeen.

Stay Tuned for more Outfest Coverage as it unfolds.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=599
originally posted: 07/13/02 17:18:34
last updated: 07/13/02 17:22:12
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