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Outfest Announces 2014 Gala Lineup, Including 'Life Partners,' 'Lilting' and 'The Way He Looks'

Festivals
by Jeremy Staley
May 13, 2014 6:31 PM
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"Lilting"

Outfest has announced its 2014 galas, including Opening and Closing Night, for the 32nd edition of the Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival. The oldest film festival in the city of Los Angeles will be held July 10th to 20th, 2014.

Outfest Los Angeles 2014 will open with “Life Partners” – Susanna Fogel’s feature debut, starring Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Brody, Kate McKinnon and Gabourey Sidibe. “Life Partners” will screen at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on July 10 at 8:00pm.

“The 2014 Galas represent some of the most acclaimed and thematically diverse films of the year,” said Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Outfest. “These films are intimately familiar and yet surprisingly unique, showing us how much undiscovered territory there is in the world of LGBT cinema.” 

Other gala screenings include: Writer/director/actress Desiree Akhavan’s “Appropriate Behavior” (U.S. Dramatic Centerpiece); Sundance award winner “Lilting” by Hong Khaou (International Centerpiece); Teddy Award and FIPRESCI prize winning “The Way He Looks” by Daniel Ribeiro (International Centerpiece); and the Vancouver Film Critics Circle winner “My Prairie Home” (Documentary Centerpiece).

Outfest Los Angeles 2014 will close on July 20 at the Ford Amphitheatre with the irreverent comedy “Space Station 76,” co-written and directed by Jack Plotnick and starring Matt Bomer, Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler and Jerry O’Connell.

The complete lineup for Outfest Los Angeles 2014 will be announced at the beginning of June. Synopses for all six announced films are below, care of Outfest.

Life Partners directed by Susanna Fogel

The longest relationship that best pals Sasha (Leighton Meester, “Gossip Girl”) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs, “Community”) have ever managed to maintain is with each other. Rapidly approaching their 29th birthdays, the two decide they can’t spend the rest of their lives watching “America’s Next Top Model” with each other on the couch, so they brave the world of internet dating. While lesbian Sasha fends off the advances of unhinged reality-TV vet Trace (Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”), Paige hooks up with nerdy Tim (Adam Brody, “The O.C.,” “Damsels In Distress”), who seems like he might be her Mr. Right. Can this friendship be saved? With a hilarious supporting cast including Gabourey Sidibe, Abby Elliott, Kate McKinnon and Julie White, this riotous look at love and courtship in L.A. reminds us that, gay or straight, we’re all in the same leaky love boat together! 

Appropriate Behavior directed by Desiree Akhavan

After a toxic breakup with her girlfriend Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), Shirin (Desiree Akhavan) desperately throws herself into the Brooklyn dating scene in hopes of finding a man or woman able to bury her resentments. But with each bust of a date, she’s forced to confront a host of real-world issues she previously ignored, including masking her bisexuality from her Iranian parents. Writer-director-actress Desiree Akhavan’s playful portrayal of Shirin is the film’s revelation: a woman caught between self-doubt and self-possession, trapped in a web of family mores and societal expectations with all their accompanying — and often hilarious — complexities. Comparisons to ”Annie Hall” and “Girls” are well deserved, but this foul-mouthed Sundance gem stands confidently in a class of its own. 

My Prairie Home directed by Chelsea McMullan

With only a guitar and a handful of cash for Greyhound fare, transgender singer/songwriter Rae Spoon, who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” performs across the vast and blue-skied plains of Canada, in dingy bars and badly lit concert halls. Together with filmmaker Chelsea McMullan, Rae’s songs transport audiences from small, confining nightclubs into dreamy, beautifully photographed landscapes of music and memory. “My Prairie Home” disposes of traditional documentary filmmaking, opting instead to explore Rae’s discovery of love outside their evangelical home with haunting visuals and a hypnotic score that go hand-in-hand with Rae’s highly personal melodies. Within the first moments of this Sundance Film Festival favorite, we’re visually cued to subvert our expectations and spend an intimate time with a subject who sees the world in their own way. A particular joy comes from delving into an artist’s world of quiet musings; discovering Rae Spoon is this film’s biggest reward.

Lilting directed by Hong Khaou

The sudden death of Kai, a young London man, leaves his Chinese-Cambodian mother Junn (Pei-Pei Cheng, ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), - in an assisted-living home - and his boyfriend Richard (Ben Whishaw, ”Skyfall”) profoundly grieving. Feeling a strong sense of responsibility for Kai’s only family member, Richard reaches out to her. Though Junn speaks little English, her dislike of Richard is plain, and she responds with stony resistance. Since they share no common language, Richard hires a translator to facilitate communication, and the two improbable relatives attempt to reach across a chasm of misunderstanding through their memories of Kai. Writer-director Hong Khaou’s moving and intimate debut dances between the real and the imaginary to express the unspeakable loss that both characters experience. Boasting delicate performances by both Whishaw and Cheng, this Sundance award winner is a perceptive meditation on the connection between two human souls, revealing that what separates us can also bind us together.

The Way He Looks directed by Daniel Ribeiro

Set to the bouncy beats of Belle and Sebastian, this euphoric, sun-kissed coming-of-age fable - a sensation at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, where it swept the Teddy Award and FIPRESCI prize - dances entirely to its own tune. Stuck fending off bullies and over-protective parents, Leonardo spends his days allowing his best friend Giovana to drag him around town. Being blind has always been a inconvenience for Leonardo, but his angst-y adolescence gets a lift when the handsome and smooth-talking Gabriel turns down numerous offers by ogling girls to hang with Leonardo after school. The longer they spend together, the more apparent their shared attraction becomes– not just to them but to a spurned Giovana as well. As social pressure mounts on both to fit within their confined social boxes, the two must decide whether to ignore their feelings or throw caution to the wind and admit that they might actually be falling in love. 

Space Station 76 directed by Jack Plotnick

Few movies are a cross between “Galaxy Quest”, “The Ice Storm”, “Space: 1999,” “Happiness”, and “Far From Heaven”, but few movies are anything quite like “Space Station 76”, a brilliantly daffy film from first-time director Jack Plotnick (known for acting in films like “Girls Will Be Girls” and “Gods And Monsters”). Mixing a perfectly absurdist view of 1970s science fiction with equal parts farce and tragedy, this film - based on the L.A. stage hit - has a heart beating within its beige polyester astronaut uniforms. The arrival of Jessica (Liv Tyler) on Space Station 76 sets off any number of revelations among the crew, from the closeted captain (Patrick Wilson) to the unhappily married mechanic (Matt Bomer), whose wife (Marisa Coughlan) is falling for her analyst - who happens to be a robot. Comedy, tragedy, cigarettes, disco, zero gravity, asteroids, and Qiana – “Space Station 76” has it all.

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