Outfest Kicks Off at Orpheum

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 10 2009 12:00 AM ET

At the 27th annual Outfest's opening night, writer-director Don Roos said it is no longer enough to make gay movies. While accepting the LGBT film festival's achievement award from presenters Lisa Kudrow and Christina Ricci last night, he told the crowd at Los Angeles's Orpheum Theater that the movies now need to be good.

The 1992 documentary Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker "changed what it means to love someone," he said, and other organizing members echoed his notion that movies can have transformative effects on both individual and cultural levels.

In his opening remarks, Chaz Bono said films like Southern Comfort , Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Boy Named Sue gave him the courage to make his well-publicized transition.

Outfest executive director Kirsten Schaffer added that in the age of LGBT equality, films that represent community members in truthful and empowering ways create "cultural change that is the force behind political change."

The festival's opening film, La Mission , starred Benjamin Bratt and Jeremy Valdez and centered on the cultural change to which Schaffer alluded. Bratt plays a hardened, recovering alcoholic -- a model of redemption in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. But his life run by routine is rocked when he discovers his son (Valdez) is gay.

The neighboring districts of Castro and Mission serve as the film's central metaphor. Valdez works to find his place on the border of Mission and Castro while fighting for acceptance from Bratt.

Co-president of the festival's board of directors Craig Dorfman said the film was one of his favorites in the festival. Then again, he said he would enjoy watching anything with Bratt in it. While one day shorter this year, Dorfman said this year's festival possesses a more concentrated quality.

Following the film, festival attendees were ushered to Club 740 -- the former Globe Theater -- for the after-party catered by dineLA and hydrated by Absolut and Stella Artois.

Click through to the following pages for more pictures from opening night.

OUTFEST 6 PREPARTY X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COMThe pre-party

OUTFEST 7 LISA KUDROW BENJAMIN BRATT X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COMLisa Kudrow and Benjamin Bratt

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COM

OUTFEST 2 RED CARPET X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COMWorking the red carpet

OUTFEST 3 ENTRANCE X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COM Since its February 15, 1926, opening, the Orpheum has played host to some of the most venerable names in show business -- from burlesque queen Sally Rand to a young Judy Garland (known then as Francis Gumm).

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COM

OUTFEST 4 STEPHEN MACIAS ANDREW JAMES X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COMAndrea James (left) and Stephen Macias

OUTFEST 1 ORPHEUM X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COM

Marquee at the Orpheum

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COM

OUTFEST10 STAGE X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COMThe historic Orpheum stage

OUTFEST11 JIM KEY DERRICK SHORE X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COMThe L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's Jim Key, Advocate associate art director Scott McPherson, and Advocate correspondent Derrick Shore

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COM

OUTFEST 8 CHAZ BONO X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COM Scott McPherson and Chaz Bono

OUTFEST 9 TABATHA COFFEY X555 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COMNelson Deeds and Tabatha Coffey