As it enters its second decade, the Los Angeles International Gay & Lesbian Film & Video Festival, which opens its 10-day 11th edition Thursday at the Directors Guild, can be proud of having brought countless significant films to the city.
In many instances, especially in regard to foreign productions, the festival provides the only opportunity to see them. On a more encouraging note, the festival has indeed launched such key films as "Swoon," "Poison" and "Claire of the Moon," which went on to successful theatrical engagements.
This year the festival will present more than 200 films and videos. Many of the shorts screenings this year will offer both gay and lesbian films and videos on the same program.
The festival's founder and executive director, Larry Horne, has programmed the men's films while associate director Nazila Hedayat selected the women's films. More women's organizations than ever before are sponsoring various programs. The videos have been chosen by a committee headed by the Getty Center's David Jenen.
"The strength of this year's festival is in its cultural diversity and its multiple perspectives," said Horne. "This year we also have the support and involvement of more than a dozen business and community groups, which is much more than ever before."
Derek Jarman's "Wittgenstein," a portrait of the influential and eccentric philosopher, will open the festival with a gala premiere. Closing the festival July 18 will be "Confession of a Pretty Lady," Kris Clarke's documentary on Sandra Bernhard, and Richard Glatzer's "Grief," which last week took the top prize at San Francisco's gay and lesbian film festival and which Daily Variety has described as a gay "Soapdish" with "a good deal more heart and wit."
Among this year's panel discussions is "The Gay Agenda" (Saturday at 4:30 p.m.), which will present a tape of the same name made by the Oregon Political Action Committee, plus two more tapes, the pro-gay "The Heterosexual Agenda" and Jerry Falwell's anti-gay "Clinton Inauguration Exposed." At 7:30 p.m Saturday there will be a presentation of the video "To Support and Defend: The Role of Homosexuals in the Military," which was produced in response to the hearings conducted by Senate Armed Services Committee.