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.




Mississippi Damned:Mississippi Damned, much more about the African-American experience than anything else, is one of the most solid films at the festival. Director Tina Mabry paints a picture of the life of poor Southern blacks in the 1980s, a life that starts out untarnished by the cycle of violence, absentee husbands, gambling, and crime, and shows us how it all unravels. Three sisters are raising children in proximity, relying on the close-knit family unit to bring them together. The film uses the lesbianism of one of the young women to show how the family bond is tested and stretched but never ultimately broken. The second half of the film takes place in the '90s and centers on the lesbian daughter's straight sister, who dreams of going to New York University to study music. These plot points are not the nexus of Mabry's story but merely the threads on which it hangs. The central story here is much more painful and real, as victims of abuse become abusers, poverty begets poverty, and hope is hard to come by. A beautiful and painful look at one aspect of the American experience.

Tuesday, July 14, 8 p.m., Directors Guild Theater


Patrik, Age 1.5: A story of adoption gone wrong, this Swedish comedy has already become a festival favorite, having won the audience award at this year's Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco. Gay newlyweds Sven and Goran are all set up in the suburbs with an idyllic life, shot in almost surreal colors by director Ella Lemhagen. The only thing missing is a baby. However, when an error in the adoption process sends them a teenage delinquent instead of a baby boy, they are forced to examine both their motivations and what it really means to love someone unconditionally. Gustaf Skarsgard (son of Stellan Skarsgard) steals the film as Goran, but a strong script, other great performances, and a crisp, colorful look also make this movie worth seeing.

Wednesday, July 15, 8:30 p.m., Ford Amphitheatre

Tags: film