2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival Announces Achievement Award Recipient & Gala Screenings

Outfest - the Los Angeles based nonprofit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBT stories on the screen - today announced its 2017 Achievement Award recipient, Bryan Fuller, and its galas, including Opening and Closing Night, for the 2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival presented by HBO. The nation's leading LGBT festival will be held July 6-16, 2017.

The 2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival will open with Francis Lee's poignant and masterful feature debut, God's Own Country starring Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu. The Achievement Award Ceremony will take place at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on July 6, followed by the screening of God's Own Country.

The Achievement Award is Outfest's highest honor and is presented in recognition of a body of work that has made a significant contribution to LGBT film and media. Bryan Fuller is one of contemporary television's true visionaries. With shows like "Dead Like Me," "Wonderfalls," "Pushing Daisies," "Hannibal" and most recently "American Gods," Fuller's stories push boundaries and present characters that feel modern and transgressive, not only because so many are LGBTQ but also because they live and love and behave and react in a way that their TV antecedents would never have dared.

"From the unabashed queer aesthetic in "Pushing Daisies" to the groundbreaking sex-scene between two Muslim, gay men in "American Gods," Bryan [Fuller] has decidedly put LGBT lives into America's living rooms. It is through his unapologetic storytelling - its newness, its frankness, and its honesty - that audiences have not only accepted these stories but asked for more," commented Outfest Executive Director Christopher Racster.

Additional gala screenings include: a rare spotlight on a bisexual lead character in the West Coast premiere of the TV series "Strangers," (U.S. Centerpiece) written and directed by Mia Lidofsky; the groundbreaking, Japanese trans family drama Close Knit (International Centerpiece) from filmmaker Naoko Ogigami; the World Premiere of Logo Documentary Films and Putti Media's KEVYN AUCOIN Beauty & The Beast In Me (Documentary Centerpiece), directed by Lori Kaye, on makeup artist legend Kevyn Aucoin; and Awesomeness Films' Behind The Curtain: Todrick Hall (Special Centerpiece), directed by Katherine Fairfax-Wright, following the life of multifaceted performer Todrick Hall.

The 2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival will close on July 16 at The Ace Theatre with Trudie Styler's comedic Freak Show, starring Bette Midler, Alex Lawther, AnnaSophia Robb, Abigail Breslin, Ian Nelson, Larry Pine and featuring a cameo from Laverne Cox.

"This year Outfest proudly turns 35. What started as a three-day media conference on the campus of UCLA is now a year-round organization with global impact. Outfest Los Angeles remains ahead of the curve in showcasing the work and stories of women, people of color and the trans community" remarked Racster. "When I look at the Galas for this year's Outfest Los Angeles I can see that impact and leadership - with incredible efforts by female directors, the international discussion around trans rights and the dignity in their stories, and the spotlight on new avenues of storytelling to get stories out."

"This has been a remarkable year for LGBT storytelling and its evolution in form, complexity and inclusion. We've chosen to spotlight the scope of these groundbreaking journeys, from the Japanese trans family in the International Centerpiece Close Knit, to the relationship between two men in our Opening Night Gala film God's Own Country, these stories of hope blossom despite the intolerance that surrounds them," commented Outfest Director of Programming Lucy Mukerjee-Brown. "In my travels across the film festival circuit this past year, the urgency and caliber of the queer content is indicative that no matter what part of the world we live in, the stories of our LGBT lives must be heard. In Behind the Curtain Todrick Hall says: 'I never saw a gay black man on TV when I was growing up.' That is what this year feels like - we have grown up and we are now able to tell our stories, as beautiful and as challenging as they may be."

The complete lineup for the 2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival will be announced on Thursday, June 1.

The 2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is proudly presented by HBO, a partnership that has spanned over 20 years. The Grand Sponsor is DIRECTV NOW. The Premiere Sponsors include Bank of America, Clear Channel Outdoor, Comcast NBCUniversal, Director's Guild of America, Gilead, The Grove, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety. For more information about sponsorship, visit www.outfest.org/sponsor or contact Corporate Relations Manager, Amy Flower, at amy@outfest.org or 213-480-7095.

GALA SYNOPSES

God's Own Country (Opening Night Gala) Writer-Director: Francis Lee

Gritty yet tender, desolate yet beautiful, carnal yet romantic: God's Own Country is a masterpiece directed with powerful focus and authenticity by first-time feature filmmaker Francis Lee. Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor) is an overworked 25-year-old sheep farmer who feels as though life has already passed him by. He whiles away the time with drunken hookups in his small community in Northern England. When his ailing father takes a turn for the worse, handsome Romanian migrant Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) is brought in to assist Johnny. Although Johnny resents Gheorghe at first, the two are quickly drawn to each other, and during an excursion to the highlands, they forge an even deeper connection.

Lauded by critics and audiences alike at Sundance - where it received the World Cinema Directing Award for its beautiful depiction of the English countryside - this this assured new milestone marks a bold new epoch in LGBTQ storytelling and is an unflinching and compassionate plea for unity in these divisive times.

Strangers (US Centerpiece) Writer-Director: Mia Lidofsky

Newly single and bisexual, Isobel rents out her spare room in a last ditch effort to keep the home she loves. Along with her lesbian best friend, Cam, she navigates the most complicated time in her life-- emotionally, sexually, and professionally. As Isobel begins to share her life with a revolving door of colorful characters, their zany antics challenge her perspective and help open her up to a new way of looking at the world. From navigating her first relationship with another woman, to grappling with career dissatisfaction, Isobel ventures into uncharted territory with hilarity and sincerity.

Starring Zoe Chao, Meredith Hagner, and Isabelle McNally, and featuring guest appearances by Breeda Wool, Jemaine Clement, Shiri Appleby, Leisha Hailey, and Jemima Kirke, Mia Lidofsky's new series hails the arrival of a fresh new voice for the Airbnb and Tinder generation. Chao is a breakout as Isobel, exploring her late 20s and newly-discovered bisexuality with an appealing sweetness and vulnerability. Executive Produced by Refinery29, Beachside, and Jesse Peretz, "Strangers" is a compelling and relevant reflection on opening yourself up to life through a revolving door of new and different people in the most intimate of places: the home.

Close Knit (International Centerpiece) Writer-Director: Naoko Ogigami

This warm, witty exploration of unconventional family and unconditional love won the Teddy Jury Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The award's message of solidarity and equality is epitomized in this film, hailed by critics as breaking new ground for trans narratives in Japanese cinema.

At 11, Tomo learned self-sufficiency early on. Her mother regularly disappears for days, sometimes weeks, leaving Tomo to raise herself. Uncle Makio takes Tomo in until her mom resurfaces, but he explains things are different; he now lives with his trans girlfriend Rinko. Tomo is shy at first, but gradually the unfamiliar domesticity of this loving household begins to feel like home. The trio forms a family unit, comically embarking on a knitting project to commemorate Rinko's legal name change. Labeled "freak family" by her classmates and interrogated by child protective services, Tomo's growing awareness of prejudice surrounding them draws her even closer to Rinko.

Using surprising humor and emotional depth, and intentionally casting superstars Toma Ikuta and Kenta Kiritani to put a spotlight on the status of transgender rights in Japan, Naoko Ogigami's film is quietly subversive in its humanizing portrayal of an LGBTQ family.

KEVYN AUCOIN Beauty & The Beast In Me (Documentary Centerpiece) Director: Lori Kaye

This extraordinary film documents renowned celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, who fought his way from rural Louisiana to become the most sought after makeup artist of his time. At the heart of the documentary is an abundance of never before seen archival footage of some of the most iconic moments in fashion history, shot by Kevyn himself throughout his life and career. Intimate and uncensored moments with the celebrated paragons of 80's & 90's fashion and pop culture include Naomi Campbell, Cher, Cindy Crawford, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Andie MacDowell, Paulina Porizkova, Tina Turner and Amber Valletta. Interviews with celebrities, colleagues, family, friends and former lovers explain share why they think Kevyn was able to achieve all of his dreams and create so much beauty, yet struggled to see the beauty within himself. The film is produced by Logo Documentary Films and Putti Media and directed by Lori Kaye.

Behind The Curtain: Todrick Hall (Special Centerpiece) Director: Katherine Fairfax-Wright

Last year Todrick Hall, the gay black singer, dancer, actor, director, "American Idol" sensation, and YouTube superstar unveiled his biggest project yet: The Wizard of Oz-inspired musical Straight Outta Oz. Influenced largely by his small-town Texas upbringing and his close relationship with his conservative Christian mother, Hall brings this deeply personal yet ambitious project to fruition over the course of this up-close-and-personal documentary.

Directed and edited with an intimate, you-are-there immediacy by Katherine Fairfax Wright (Call Me Kuchu, Imperial Dreams), and produced by Awesomeness Films (Before I Fall, Expelled, Shovel Buddies) and Pepsi Studios, Behind The Curtain shows Hall and his team displaying passion that shines through every frame. This special centerpiece, which wowed audiences at SXSW, is a portrait of an artist reconciling his small-town past with his widescreen future. The film's uplifting conclusion proves beyond a doubt that this impressive young man behind the curtain is well worth paying attention to.

Freak Show (Closing Night Gala) Director: Trudie Styler

Teenager Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther, The Imitation Game) learned fabulousness at the feet of his larger-than-life Muvv (Bette Midler). But when he's shipped off to live with his conservative father (Larry Pine), Billy's classmates at Ulysses S. Grant Academy don't know what to make of this flamboyant newcomer and his seemingly endless array of colorful ensembles (with matching makeup). After being severely bullied, Billy bounces back with the help of his new friends, sensitive jock Flip (Ian Nelson, The Hunger Games) and the loquacious BlahBlahBlah (Anna Sophia Robb). Eventually, our glamorous hero decides to wave his freak flag as high as he can by running for homecoming queen, even if that means facing off with Bible-thumping mean girl Lynette (Abigail Breslin).

Based on the novel by James St. James, the film features a superb ensemble cast, including Laverne Cox, Celia Weston, and Willa Fitzgerald (TV's "Scream"). It's a charming coming-of-age tale - as witty and as fearless as its protagonist - that celebrates the outsider within us all.

ABOUT Bryan Fuller

Bryan Fuller serves as executive producer and co-showrunner on Starz's "American Gods," based on Neil Gaiman's classic novel, which was just renewed for a second season.

Fuller got his start writing "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," followed by "Star Trek: Voyager," where he worked his way up from freelance writer to staff writer to co-producer. He charted a new path during his last year on "Star Trek: Voyager," writing a spec pilot called "Dead Girl," which became Showtime's "Dead Like Me."

Fuller then went on to create the critically acclaimed series "Wonderfalls" for Fox and wrote and executive produced the animated movie "The Amazing Screw-On Head" with Mike Mignola for the Sci-Fi Channel. He also served as writer and co-executive producer on the first season of NBC's "Heroes" before leaving to create the Emmy Award-winning "Pushing Daisies" for ABC. He wrote and executive produced "Mockingbird Lane," a reimagining of the classic sit-com "The Munsters" as a modern family dramedy, which aired on NBC as a Halloween special, and served as executive producer on the television film "High Moon" for Syfy. Bryan then developed and executive produced the critically-acclaimed series "Hannibal," which ran for three seasons on NBC.

Fuller was the recipient of the Dan Curtis Legacy Award at the 40th Annual Saturn Awards, as well as the 3rd Annual Award for Comic-Con All Access Game Changer from Spike TV.

ABOUT OUTFEST

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Outfest was founded by UCLA students in 1982 who were looking for positive images of themselves in media. Today Outfest is the world's leading organization that promotes equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBT stories on the screen. Outfest builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 37,000 LGBT films and videos. Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is 11 days of world-class films, panels, and parties.

ABOUT HBO

Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and the world's most successful pay TV service, providing the two television services - HBO and Cinemax - to approximately 131 million subscribers worldwide. The services offer the popular subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand and Cinemax On Demand, as well as HBO GO and MAX GO, HD feeds and multiplex channels. HBO NOW, the network's internet-only premium streaming service, provides audiences with instant access to HBO's acclaimed programming in the U.S. Internationally, HBO branded television networks, along with the subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand and HBO GO, bring HBO services to over 60 countries. HBO and Cinemax programming is sold into over 150 countries worldwide.



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