Ten Films You Must See at Outfest

From a docu-dramedy on the webcam porn biz to a Thelma & Louise -like lesbian road trip flick, the 2009 Outfest film festival kicks off this week in Los Angeles and is chock-full of hidden gems.




Fruit Fly: With the resurgence of the musical genre in blockbusters like Hairspray and the forthcoming Footloose, it's nice to see an independent film doing it altogether better with a lot less money. Fruit Fly follows Bethesda, a performance artist who moves to San Francisco to do a show and to find out more about her real mother. She moves into a modern-day commune of other artists and learns how to have a family even if it is the one she makes. Along the way, she and the cast of characters sing -- about everything from love to the careful negotiation that goes on between two bottoms as they attempt to seduce each other at a gay bar. The music is inventive and catchy, the lyrics are real and still funny, and writer-director H.P. Mendoza manages to find fresh ways to film the performances without relying on classic musical conventions. Don't expect a three-act structure here -- this film is more performance art than anything else, ruminating on any idea it encounters and letting situations and characters rise and fall without the need for a tidy ending or the burden of a message. Fruit Fly will have you singing along and swallowing the sometimes-bitter pill of experimental filmmaking without you being any the wiser.

Saturday, July 11, 4 p.m., Directors Guild Theater


Ghosted: While lesbians will be drawn to obvious festival favorites like Hannah Free and And Then Came Lola this year, Ghosted should not to be forgotten. Out German director Monica Treut, who is well-known for her 1985 film Seduction: The Cruel Woman, returns to Taiwan, the site of her 2005 documentary Tigerwomen Grow Wings, for this tale of love lost and the spiritual mythology of the Taiwanese culture. Sophie (played with grace and charismatic subtlety by Inga Busch) is a Hamburg-based visual artist who is haunted by the unexplained death of her girlfriend Ai-ling, and when she goes to Taiwan to present her video installation art based on their relationship, she becomes involved with Mei Li, a journalist desperate to write about her. Treut creates a hypnotic trance in which the viewer can't help but feel as Sophie does: foggy with grief, uncertain where reality ends and where it begins again. A sexy and mesmerizing love story masquerading as a thriller.

Tuesday, July 14, 7 p.m., Laemmle Theatre Santa Monica /Sunday, July 19, 2:30 p.m., Directors Guild Theater

Tags: film