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Preserving Gay History in Film Form

Preserving Gay History in Film Form


Outfest's Legacy Project isn't simply about restoring old gay movies -- it's about furthering the narrative of LGBT history for a future generation.

The Legacy Project, which celebrates its fifth anniversary Thursday evening in Los Angeles, has raised funds over the past five years to preserve film clips, documentaries, and historical footage as well as the feature film Parting Glances. Filmmaker Roland Emmerich was approached by former Outfest executive director Stephen Gutwillig, who shared his and current director Kirsten Schaffer's idea of preserving and restoring old films to document the history of gay culture and society. With his sizable contribution, says Outfest senior director Kerri Stoughton-Jackson, the Legacy Project was essentially born.

In addition to recognizing Emmerich with the Visionary Award for his early and ongoing contribution to the Legacy Project, Stoughton-Jackson said the evening will include a screening of clips to commemorate the films that have since been restored or archived by the organization.

The Legacy Project has restored six titles so far, including a landmark speech of gay icon Harvey Milk, a 1971 gay rights protest in Los Angeles, and the 1986 film Parting Glances. Along with the University of California, Los Angeles, Television and Film Archive, Outfest manages the world's largest collection of LGBT films, with more than 13,000 titles. Many of the rare finds in the collection are independent, small-budget titles that ended up stored in the basements of homes, exposed to air, humidity, and caustic materials that could harm precious films.

"At the time that [Parting Glances] was found, there was only one negative of that film, and it was not in the best condition," she said. "Now we have a pristine copy of that film that's shown all around the world, and we know we're not relying on just one bad print to make it through the years."

The Legacy Awards will be held at the Directors Guild of America headquarters in Los Angeles. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

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