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Outfest 2013: Opening Night Recap

Happy late Friday night everyone!

I’ve just gotten back from Day 2 of Outfest where I saw a fantastic movie called Free Fall which I highly recommend and a kind of terrible movie called To Heaven which had its moments but too few and might have been better as a short!

But this post isn’t about tonight – it’s about last night which was really so much fun.

Opening night of Outfest is always so special because there’s a big red carpet and all kinds of great energy and it all takes place downtown at the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre. And there’s also a fantastic after-party where you see just about everyone you’ve ever known in local LGBT circles.

Did all kinds of interviews that I still have to transcribe and will post soon (I really have to start doing some video interviews, I think). But I will tell you that one of the highlights was talking to Jonathan Groff who was the star of the opening night film C.O.G.

Jonathan told me this was his first lead role in a movie and he really is in every single scene – almost every frame! And this is a good thing because he can more than handle it. What a face! Those eyes are so expressive and he’s the best crier. I was not thrilled with the way the movie ended but it is based on a short story by David Sedaris and I guess that’s how it ended. But otherwise, it’s a movie filled with terrific performances particularly from Groff, Denis O’Hare and Corey Stoll.

Also in the film is Eloy Mendez who I was introduced to on the red carpet by a good pal of his, LA City Councilman – and Morning Man alum – Mike Bonin.

I’ve seen Mike a few times since the election – he’s one of two openly gay councilmen – but Thursday was the first time I got to see new Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti since his election and to congratulate him on his victory.

He gave me a hug and talked enthusiastically about Outfest.

“I’ve been to Outfest many times but this is my first time as mayor,” Garcetti said. “It’s amazing to be here as mayor. This is one of the gay centers of the world and this brings two of the things we’re great at: equality and filmmaking and to have them both here, I couldn’t be more excited. I look forward to many more years.”

During our chat, LA City Controller Ron Galperin walked up to say hello and the mayor introduced him to me as “our first citywide openly gay elected official.”

Earlier, I had snapped a photo of Garcetti chatting with the night’s big honoree, writer-director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss). You can read my interview with her HERE.

Two people who I did not expect to meet on the red carpet – but who I was thrilled to meet – were newlyweds Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katani.

They, of course, are one of the two couples who were the lead plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit that led to the overturning of Prop. 8.

I’ve written so much about them in recent weeks that to be able to chat with them at length was just great and I will have that interview on Monday for you all.

So many other chats including one with the one and only Leslie Jordan who appears in Southern Baptist Sissies, with the co-director and two of the stars of Interior. Leather Bar, with the director-star of Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf, with the co-directors of the documentary Born This Way, the directors of the documentaries Before You Know It and I Am DiVine and with Outfest Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer.

Will try and get those posted before the movies actually have their screenings!

Also got to chat with David W. Ross, the writer and star of I Do which was a big hit at Outfest last year. The movie is resonating more than ever right now because it tells the story of just how damaging DOMA is to the family in the movie.

Anyway, after wrapping up my red carpet duties, made my way into the theater and had a great seat way up front.

Before I sit down, this very nice guy comes up to say hello and to tell me he reads Greg In Hollywood every day.

Turns out it is Rich Ross, the executive who really soared as head of the Disney Channel before becoming chairman of Walt Disney Studios for a few years. He is now Chief Executive Officer for Shine America.

I love meeting readers and it means so much to me when people like Rich go out of their way to say hello. I told him since I spend much of my time at a home office in front of a laptop, I just lose sight of that fact that I’m connecting with all of these people each day.

It really is a privilege.

(Speaking of readers, I know there will be some who are annoyed that I do not have captions for the photos. I will add them tomorrow because right about now, sleep would be nice)


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