And The Outfest Winners Are….

Bloomington actor (left) Allison McAtee and Sarah Stouffer (right)

I reviewed some of the award-winning films at Outfest, the 2010 LA Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, but also have a few awards of my own.

First the official awards:

A Marine Story, a feature that puts a face on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,  won Outfest’s Grand Jury and Audience awards, as well as best actress for Dreya Weber. I wrote about visiting the set during filming in the print edition of Curve this month so check it out.

International Dramatic Feature:  Maxine Peake, a seasoned British actor, rocks as the modern-thinking woman trying to tip-toe the boundaries of period conventions in The Secret Diaries of Miss Jane Lister. Fear of exposure stifles Lister’s true love but try as she might to conform, Ms. Lister is irrepressible. The film so beautifully recreates the period you can almost feel the corset suffocating the life out of you.

Audience Award for First Feature: The Four-Faced Liar is among the films you’re likely to see on TV.  Think Friends, only edgier and with more alcohol, with two of the female leads getting hot for each other.

Special Programming Award for Freedom: The Topp Twins documentary is as enlightening as it is entertaining. The dynamic New Zealand duo live and perform as openly lesbian. Hilarious and impressively talented, they’ve captured the hearts of audiences that include everyone from farmers to LGBT supporters by just being themselves.

Best Short Film: The Outfest shorts programs were particularly strong this year. You Move Me is a hilarious, well-acted, well-written buddy movie that takes place after one of said buddies breaks up with her girlfriend. I can hardly wait to see what these filmmakers do next.

The Red Carpet Awards:

Best Film That Didn’t Win Anything: Elena Undone is a terrific looking film based on filmmaker Nicole Conn’s real-life relationship. The film is said to have the longest movie kiss, which almost eradicates the Longest Wait Till Something Happens award for Conn’s first film, Claire of the Moon. The lead actors are extremely appealing, with a strong supporting cast. Hard to believe they shot this quality film in 12 days.

Hottest Campus Kiss:  Classmates in Bloomington warn Jackie that Prof. Stark is a predator who sleeps with her students. It sounds like an absurd rumor until a couple scenes later. Looking beautiful and professional, Stark glares seductively at Jackie and takes her directly to bed. A good-looking film with two hot actors but a storyline that feels like a lesson in dangling participles.

Best Memory of Childhood Crush: Lots of buzz for The Evening Dress (La Robe du Soir), about a 9-year-old girl who falls for her female teacher. Americans might squirm at the subject matter, but leave it to the French to handle it well.

Best Identity Crisis on Film: The OWLS from veteran filmmaker Cheryl Dunye mixes documentary with narrative fiction. None of the central characters—four women who’ve been friends from baby-dykedom until their current Older, Wiser, Lesbians (OWLS) status, are all that likeable. But they must’ve been the bomb back in the day. It’s a little unsettling the way an African American character is their downfall.

Best Borrowed Story: Leading Ladies is sort of Strictly Ballroom meets the butch Gypsy Rose Lee. The stage mother in the film is a cross between Bette Midler and Momma (the Drag Queen). A couple of dazzling dance scenes seem to come out of nowhere.

Best Non-Film: We Have to Stop Now was originally shot as a web series and edited into a feature film. The project stars sexy real-life couple Jill Bennett and Cathy DeBuono, with comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer as their therapist (we highly recommend her). See my interviews with the trio in an upcoming blog.