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Outfest 2015: John Cameron Mitchell to be honored with Outfest Achievement Award tonight

And so it begins.

It’s opening night of Outfest tonight and before the screening of Tig, John Cameron Mitchell will be presented with the Outfest Achievement Award.

Mitchell, of course, is best known for creating and originating the role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch Off-Broadway and in film and more recently stepping back into the role in the current Broadway revival. He has also directed the films Rabbit Hole and Shortbus.

In the past, the Outfest Achievement Award has gone to James Schamus, Kimberly Peirce, John Waters, Jane Lynch, Bill Condon, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Don Roos, Donna Deitch, Kenneth Anger, Gregg Araki, Todd Haynes, Jane Anderson, Christine Vachon, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Gus Van Sant, Ian McKellen, John Schlesinger, and Strand Releasing.

Mitchell chatted with Queerty about what the award means to him: The people who’ve won this award before have influenced me a lot, like Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant. They were making films when I was wanting to learn how to do it. I learned from their aesthetic and their purity how to go about it. Before them, they’d probably point to Derek Jarman, who’d have won it if he was around. He was a very influential person on all kinds of queer art. He brought Tilda Swinton to our attention. The queer filmmakers who worked underground are the ones who are most interesting to me. Way back you looked to Jean Genet in a film called Un Chant D’Amour. He made one film that was very influential on me and on Shortbus. The other person is Frank Ripploh, a German filmmaker who made Taxi zum Klo. That influenced Shortbus a lot. Bob Fosse, even though he wasn’t gay. He was certainly queer and had a huge effect on the Hedwig film, as did Hal Ashby and Robert Altman, who had a weird butch queer feeling about him. His films almost flirted with camp but in an extremely realistic acting way. He was always questioning authority, which is very much a part of the queer aesthetic for me. The people that were most interesting were always questioning the status quo. Fassbender is another who should have won one, although his despair annoyed me after a while. [Laughs] I’m sure it was honest, but it wasn’t useful to me. His skill was incredible. Earlier there was George Cukor, who had a wonderful way with women and comedy and sophistication. There are a lot of people.

FILE UNDER: Outfest

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