‘I Think I Do’ to kick off Outfest

Outfest ’97, the 15th edition of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, will open July 11 with the Los Angeles premiere of the U.S. indie romantic comedy “I Think I Do.”

The kickoff event, unspooling at the historic Los Angeles Theatre, will also feature a Lifetime Achievement Award to director John Schlesinger. Running through July 20, this year’s program includes 69 features, shorts programs, panels and special events, including a musical presentation by Sophie B. Hawkins.

This year’s features include “Lilies” and “Hu-Du-Men,” respective best picture winners in Canada and Hong Kong, as well as “Pedale Douce” (What A Drag), one of the biggest French hits of 1996 with a bistro setting that recalls “La Cage aux Folles.”

Other acclaimed films to be screened include the German comedy “Killer Condom,” based on the graphic comic book; “The Investigator,” a British drama about a military inquiry; and “I Shall Not Be Removed,” about African-American filmmaker Marlon Riggs’ losing battle with AIDS.

Among the American indies to be screened are Su Friedrich’s “Hide and Seek,” “Kiss Me Guido,” the high camp “Isle of Lesbos” and the music industry-set “Slaves to the Underground.”

A mixture of high art and the outlandish has been a hallmark of Outfest, as evidenced by such selections as “Tickle Me Homo,” “You Don’t Know Dick” and “Cat Swallows Parakeet and Speaks.” One of the most popular sections is Guilty Pleasures, with this year’s celebrity selectors to include Chastity Bono, folksinger Phranc, Clive Barker and Holly Woodlawn.

The fest will once again headquarter and screen at the Directors Guild with additional showings set for the Harmony Gold Preview House. The closing-night program will be Deepa Mehta’s “Fire,” a controversial tale of passion set in modern-day India. The organization’s “Outies” — presented the same evening — will include five juried awards and six audience prizes that include cash and service nods ranging from between $500 and $2,000.

Further information and screening schedules on Outfest ’97 can be obtained by calling: (213) 852-1400.

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