The Advocate's 31 Favorite Films of Outfest 2015

For your consideration, The Advocate has compiled a list of 31 of our favorite films showing in this year’s Outfest, the prominent LGBT film festival that runs July 9-19 in Los Angeles. Check them out on the following pages, and see the full selection here.

GALAS

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Best of Enemies
Thursday, July 16, 7 p.m. at DGA 1

While violence erupted in the streets during the long hot summer of 1968, two literary giants faced off in an intellectual clash of the titans, with no holds barred. Directors Morgan Neville (the Oscar-winning Twenty Feet From Stardom) and Robert Gordon take us back to an electrifying moment in history, as the third-place ABC network took a bold step for TV news: Take ideologically opposed pundits Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley and allow them to debate the issues every night. Live. Never at a loss for words, the authors faced off with equal fervor and venom, culminating in the famous exchange in which Vidal labeled Buckley a “crypto-Nazi,” leading Buckley to respond by calling Vidal “queer” on national TV. This captivating Sundance favorite shows us what these legendary combatants had in common — both were intellectuals and failed political candidates from patrician backgrounds — and how their deeply felt disgust for one another culminated into a viciously intimate meeting of the minds. Mixing interviews with their friends and enemies along with Vidal and Buckley’s public and private writings, narrated by John Lithgow and Kelsey Grammer, this breathtaking battleground of a movie takes viewers directly into the line of fire between two of the 20th century’s most polarizing and intimidating geniuses. (Buy tickets here.)

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Nasty Baby
Tuesday, July 14, 7 p.m. at DGA 1

Hipsters beware: Nasty Baby plays nice until a disturbing twist flips the film — and with it the entire quirky-cute indie canon — on its head. A certifiable shocker at the Sundance Film Festival, Sebastián Silva’s biting and provocative black comedy has already inspired both walkouts and accolades, including the prestigious Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival. An attractive gay Brooklyn couple, Freddy (Silva) and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TV on the Radio), ask their best friend, Polly (Kristen Wiig), to become their surrogate. As the three hipsters contemplate becoming one big progressive family, and as Freddy and his assistant Wendy (Alia Shawkat, Arrested Development) create what they’re convinced is a brilliant art show, signs of danger and instability, primarily from a neighbor called The Bishop, intrude upon the film’s squeaky-clean surface. Director Silva (Magic Magic, Crystal Fairy) cleverly shows audiences what they want to see, only to rip the rug out from under and expose — with pitch-black humor — the hypocrisy of Brooklyn’s latte-sipping elite. (Buy tickets here.)

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Out to Win
Wednesday, July 15, 7 p.m. at DGA 1

One of the final frontiers for LGBT visibility in this country is the locker room, and Out to Win celebrates the pioneers who have worked to make the world of sports a more diverse and inclusive one. Screening his fourth consecutive documentary at Outfest Los Angeles, filmmaker Malcolm Ingram (Continental, Bear Nation, Outfest Jury Prize–winner Small Town Gay Bar) takes an expansive look at out and proud champions from early envelope-pushers like Billie Jean King and David Kopay through current superstars like Jason Collins and Brittney Griner to the college athletes who are defying conventions and opening minds. (When major players like Nike start a campaign celebrating sexual and gender diversity in sports, you can sense institutionalized homophobia being forced to retreat.) Mixing historical context with the ever-changing face of modern sports, Ingram introduces us to athletes from around the world who are sharing their stories, speaking their truths and making a difference. (Buy tickets here.)

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The New Girlfriend
Sunday, July 19, 8 p.m. at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. Closing Night Gala.

From the visionary mind of François Ozon (8 Women, Swimming Pool) comes this one-of-a-kind gender-bending melodrama, which both shocks and delights in equal measure. Steeped in suspense and indebted to the eye-popping visuals of Pedro Almodóvar, Alfred Hitchcock, and Brian De Palma, The New Girlfriend blends the macabre with a heartfelt romance in the tale of soft-spoken Claire and her love affair with a mysterious stranger. After mourning the loss of Laura, her childhood friend (and unrequited love), Claire comes across Laura’s husband, David (Romain Duris), dressed head-to-toe in his wife’s clothes. Unsure whether his new guise is the result of foul play, she threatens to reveal David to Laura’s family. But the more time she spends with him, the more Claire becomes seduced by his beautiful new incarnation. As the two become inseparable, Claire wonders whether she is falling for David’s alter ego or perhaps a part of Laura’s resurrected soul. The New Girlfriend pays homage to classic cinema, from Rebecca to All About My Mother, while injecting its own brand of sensual, sometimes sinister, eroticism. (Buy tickets here.)

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The Summer of Sangaile
Saturday, July 18, 7 p.m. at DGA 1

Winner of the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Alanté Kavaïté’s The Summer of Sangaile is arguably one of the year’s most visually stunning films. It also happens to be one of the most romantic. Set against the bright summer skies of Lithuania’s countryside, the story begins with a chance meeting between two restless youths — the quiet, angst-ridden Sangaile and her polar-opposite love interest Auste, a beguiling and beautiful fashionista. Sangaile dreams of flying one of the stunt planes that speed through the clouds above her parents’ home, but her vertigo keeps her aspirations grounded. It’s only when Auste prods her to accompany a pilot that Sangaile forces herself to take a leap of faith. Kavaïté’s film is a cinematographic tour-de-force; her camera defies gravity, soaring high into the sky as well as nestling within the film’s quietest and most intimate moments. The Summer of Sangaile moves like a dream, transporting us into a surreal landscape where love and self-fulfillment are just a flight away. (Buy tickets here.)

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Tig
Thursday, July 9, 9 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre. Opening Night Gala.

“Good evening. Hello. I have cancer,” comedian Tig Notaro famously announced in front of a stunned audience in 2012. “Is everybody having a good time?” In just 30 minutes, the beloved, up-and-coming stand-up star revealed her grave prognosis to the world, with a disarming mixture of humor and vulnerability. The set became a media sensation and critical smash overnight and, as Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York’s charming and kind-hearted documentary reveals, helped push Notaro past a series of setbacks and into the limelight. Known for her deadpan humor and striking honesty, Notaro took her struggles and transformed them into an ongoing, gut-busting punch line, cracking people up both on- and off-stage. With her newfound stardom also came a budding romance with actress Stephanie Allynne, whose steadfast support and adorably flirty texts helped shaped Notaro’s resurgence.The result is an alternately hilarious and poignant window into a comedian’s process, turning her worst fears and anxieties into pure comedic gold. This Sundance sensation — a recipient of an extended standing ovation following its world premiere — features Sarah Silverman and Zach Galifianakis, and showcases how Louis C.K. ensured that Tig’s now-famous “cancer comedy” was heard by millions of appreciative listeners across the globe. (Buy tickets here.)

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