Outfest comes full circleOrg partners with UCLA archive to preserve legacy of LGBT filmPresenting queer cinema has been Outfest’s raison d’etre for 25 years, but preserving it is an altogether new venture.
“The community has done an amazing job over the last quarter century in telling our stories on film, but very few of them are properly taken care of, and they’ve begun to die,” says Outfest executive director Stephen Gutwillig. “Outfest has drawn a line in the sand and said, ‘We will not allow our community’s film and video heritage to turn to dust.’ ”
To prove the point, this year’s festival will screen the first completed work of the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation, a joint venture with the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The restored pic is “Parting Glances” (1986), an early exploration of the AIDS crisis from a purely gay perspective.
In addition to special screenings, the org makes its collection available to researchers year-round. “It’s really a past, present and future project: Restoring films that need help, providing scholars and the public a chance to see work they would never see anyplace else and educating filmmakers on how to preserve their films,” says Legacy Project manager May Hong HaDuong.
To accomplish its task, Outfest enlisted the help of an early supporter, Robert Rosen, now dean of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
“We’ve come full circle,” Rosen says. Twenty-five years ago, organizers wondered whether they could even round up enough titles to host a film festival. “Now we’re at the point of preserving these films.”