Outfest 2017: Beach Rats, Gay Punks and Queer History

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It’s time for the best film fest in Southern California again: Outfest. With hundreds of films across five venues, and a bad ass new Ziggy Stardust-inspired logo, there’s more films we want to see this year than we could possibly fit in the week. Here’s a few of our top picks.

Harris Dickinson in "Beach Rats"

Beach Rats

Of course one of our favorite films of the fest is Beach Rats, Eliza Hillman’s look at a pack of delinquents on the scuzzy fringe of Brooklyn. When we saw Harris Dickinson’s performance as the tough kid struggling with being gay at Sundance, where the film stirred up controversy earlier in the year, we decided we had to put him on our Spring cover.  The film will make some more noise when it’s released later in the year—do yourself a favor and see it now (and read our cover story on Dickinson and the film here).  It screens Sunday, July 9 at 7:30 PM.

Behind The Curtain: Todrick Hall

Another L.A. premiere for a festival hit (this time SXSW), Behind The Curtain: Todrick Hall, designated a Special Centerpiece of Outfest, the doc chronicles, the gay black singer, dancer, director, and star of American Idol and YouTube as he creates Straight Outta Oz—a take on the Wizard of Oz inspired by his rural Texas upbringing. Director Katherine Fairfax Wright (Call me Kuchu, Imperial Dreams) documents the process, and a the thrilling passion that drove Hall and his team.  Screens Thursday, July 13 at 8 PM.

Cherry Pop

We’re also excited about director Assaad Yacoub’s Cherry Pop—a drama set in dive drag bar (which features many RuPual Drag Race alumni such as Tempest DuJour, Bob the Drag Queen, Detox, and Latrice Royale. Screens Monday, July 10 at 8 PM.)

Eastsiders

FourTwoNine friend Kit Williamson world premiers the third season of his Emmy-nominated series Eastsiders at this year’s Outfest. Which sees Silver Lake couple Cal (played by series creator and director Williamson) and Thom (Van Hansis) back for a season of “sexy mishaps, drunken decision making and general relationship catastrophes.” Guest stars include Colby Keller, Tuc Watkins, Wilson Cruz and the great Traci Lords. Screens Saturday, July 15 at 2:30 PM.

Tom of Finland

Director Dome Karukoski’s biopic stands out for its deep look into the life of the Finnish erotic artist Touko Laaksonen from his days fighting in World War 2, to the repressed ‘50s and his role in gay liberation. It’s an informative and inspiring look at the Los Angeles transplant’s life. Screens Tuesday, July 11 at 7 PM.

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

Always strong on documentaries, one of the standouts this year is The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot who last took on George Takei in To Be Takei. The boisterous doc covers the life of the author of Tales of the City, about queer life in San Francisco in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and his years in the South, in Vietnam, and at the heart of the LGBT movement. Screens July 14 at 8 PM.

The Strange Ones

Outfest’s Platinum section highlights LGBT takes on horror and other genres and this years standout may be The Strange Ones—another SXSW winner which puts a gay couple in the Cabin-in-the-Woods set up and turns into both a psychological thriller and a queer awakening story. Screens Saturday July 8 at 9:30 PM. This section of the festival follows up with Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution, a can’t miss documentary that takes a look of queer punk from Pansy Division, Bruce LaBruce, John Waters, Peaches, and Genesis Breyer-P-Orridge. Screens Saturday, July 15 at 8PM.

Freak Show

Closing the fest is Trudie Styler’s Freak Show based on the novel by seminal club kid James St. James about teen Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther, The Imitation Game) raised fabulously by his mother (Bette Midler) who runs for homecoming queen in his small Bible obsessed town. The cast includes Abigail Breslin, Ian Nelson, and Laverne Cox. And the truly fabulous closing night party follows at Clifton’s Cafeteria. Closing night is Sunday, July 16 at 7 PM.

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