30th Outfest Opens with Documentary 'Vito,' Celebration of John Waters

11:48 AM PST 05/16/2012 by Seth Abramovitch
Rick Gerharter/Outfest

The country's leading LGBT film festival kicks things off with a look at the life of gay rights pioneer Vito Russo, and bestows its 16th annual Achievement Award on John Waters.

Coming as it does in the wake of President Obama's historic endorsement of same-sex marriage, the 2012 Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival -- otherwise known as Outfest -- is poised to be one of the most spirited in its three-decade history. Organizers have announced their selection of Vito to launch the fest at its opening-night gala. The documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz, executive produced by Bryan Singer and backed by HBO chronicles the life and accomplishments of Vito Russo, considered one of the most significant figures in the history of the gay rights movement.

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Among the subjects interviewed for Vito are Lily Tomlin, Armistead Maupin, Bruce Vilanch and Larry Kramer, whose landmark play about the early AIDS crisis, The Normal Heart, is getting a big-screen adaptation by Glee creator Ryan Murphy, with Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts attached.

Outfest organizers also announced that the 16th annual Achievement Award will go to the Cecil B. DeMille of bad taste, John Waters, for having made a "significant contribution to LGBT film and media" with his taboo-busting canon of camp classics.

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“Honoring two legendary figures in Vito Russo and John Waters is the perfect way to launch Outfest’s 30th anniversary,” executive director Kirsten Schaffer said. “Over that past three decades, Outfest has had a global impact on LGBT lives by promoting understanding, launching world-class talent and preserving our filmed history for generations to come.”

Outfest is the leading LGBT film festival in the United States and the oldest film festival in the city of Los Angeles. It will be held July 12-22.

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