Gay Los Angeles: Outfest

“Happy Endings” panel | Photo by Faye Sadou, courtesy of Outfest, Facebook

Founded in 1982 by UCLA students under the name The Gay and Lesbian Media Festival and Conference, Outfest switched to its current shorter and catchier moniker in 1994. The organization’s mission is to protect the LGBT community’s past, showcase our present and nurture our future by fostering artistic expression of gender, sexuality and LGBT culture and its transformative social impact on the world, and it does so with an amazing film festival each year.

Outfest is a celebration - one that documents the varying lives that populate the LGBT community and all of the sadness, love, triumphs and failures that come along with them. The films screened at the film fest show us that no matter how different our lives are, we are not alone, we all share a common thread, and we are all in this together. The impact these stories have on youth who can finally see themselves reflected on a screen cannot be measured.

The 32nd annual Outfest is taking place July 10-20, 2014. “More than 200 feature and short films, nine venues and attendance of more than 55,000 people make Outfest the largest film festival of any kind in Los Angeles,” according to the Outfest website. “Since our founding in 1982, Outfest has screened more than 5000 international films and videos for audiences of well over half a million people. Great opportunities await filmmakers at Outfest.”  Venues include the Directors Guild of America, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, the Orpheum Theatre and other popular Los Angeles locations. The Opening Night/Closing Night Galas are not to be missed, as they include guest speakers and a screening of stellar feature films, followed by much-loved after-parties.

Each year, Outfest presents Outie awards in 16 categories that are given by grand juries, festival audiences and the program committees. Jury awards are given for Screenwriting, Actor and Actress in a Feature Film, International Feature and Documentary Feature, among other categories. Audience awards are given for Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Short Films and Soundtrack. Program awards are given for Outstanding Emerging Talent, Outstanding Artistic Achievement and more. Outfest also gives out the Outfest Achievement Award, Outfest Honors, the Outfest Screenwriting Lab Award and the Screen Idol Award.

The list of award-winning Outfest films of years past is a lengthy one, including Any Day Now, The Opposite of Sex, D.E.B.S., The Laramie Project, By Hook or by Crook, Trembling Before G-d, After Stonewall, Edge of Seventeen and Bound.

Outfest’s highest accolade is the Outfest Achievement Award, honoring a filmmaker’s body of work for its significant contribution to LGBT film. The 2013 recipient was writer-director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss). Previous award recipients include John Waters, Gus van Sant, Sir Ian McKellen, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Jane Lynch, and Don Roos.

For more information about Outfest, visit www.outfest.org.