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Guido Götz / MPRM Communications 323-933-3399





Los Angeles, June 26, 2015 – Outfest, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBT stories on the screen, has announced the five fellows and their projects selected for its 2015 Screenwriting Lab. Joanna Benecke, Bretten Hannam, Eliza Lee, Michael Perlman, and Michael Patrick Spillers have been selected for this year’s program. Now in its 13th year, and hosted by Chateau Marmont, the Screenwriting Lab is a program of Outfest Forward, which is supported by Final Draft and DreamWorks Animation.

“It is inspiring to read the next generation of LGBT storytellers in a time when we have seen so much progress in the transgender community and with marriage equality recognition. I am honored to come from my past work in film development and begin ushering in such diverse and empowering stories that need to be told.” said Director of Programming, Lucy Mukerjee-Brown “This year’s screenplays have shifted to reflect progress and positivity in LGBT lives while still showcasing we have work to do in our fight for gender equality, family acceptance and closing the gap on racial discrimination.”

What began as a screenwriting competition has expanded to a dynamic three-day, mentor-led workshop sponsored by and held in June at the Chateau Marmont for selected screenwriters, followed by a public reading of their work during the 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival. The Screenwriting Lab will also include sessions with other industry professionals, structured career development opportunities, and participation in ongoing festival events. This year’s mentors are Don Roos (Boys on the Side, Bounce, Web Therapy), Patrick Tobin (Cake), Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, American Psycho), and Barry Sandler (Making Love), along with special guests Patricia Resnick (9 to 5, Mad Men), Sandy Weinberg (agent, Summit Talent and Literary Agency) and former Outfest Screenwriting Lab Alum, Gideon Raff (Homeland).

The Screenwriting Lab has generated a host of produced projects and success stories with fellows who have gone on to both audience and critical acclaim at prominent film festivals, including Yen Tan’s Pit Stop (Sundance 2013), George Northy’s G.B.F. (Tribeca 2013), and Doug Spearman’s Hot Guys with Guns (Closing Night, 2013 Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival). Other alumni fellows include Gideon Raff, the Emmy award–winning executive producer of Showtime’s Homeland, and Javier Fuentes-Leon (Sundance 2010 Audience Award Winner for Undertow/Contracorriente). 

In July Outfest Los Angeles will screen All About E, written and directed by 2011 Screenwriting Lab Fellow Louise Wadley, the first woman to produce her screenplay out of the lab. Since 1997, over 2000 scripts have been submitted to Outfest Screenwriting Lab with over 160 submitted this year alone.

The Writer’s Guild of America (West) will be hosting “All About Outfest” on Wednesday, June 17, at 7:30pm. A panel of past and present Outfest writers and writer-directors will discuss their careers, indie filmmaking, Outfest Los Angeles, and the Outfest Screenwriting Lab. Panelists will include Jen Arnold (Tig), Michelle Ehlen (S&M Sally, Heterosexual Jill), Barney Cheng (Baby Steps), Philipp Karner (Like You Mean It), Karey Dornetto (Fresno) and more to come! Outfest Senior Programmer Alonso Duralde will moderate. A dessert reception will follow. RSVP to:; please put “Outfest” in the subject line.

Outfest will announce the lineup for the 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival on June 3. 2015.




JOANNA BENECKE (London, UK) is a writer and actor. Born in the UK, she grew up in Sweden, where she acted in TV shows and voiced cartoons before returning to Britain to get her degree in English from the University of Cambridge. As well as pursuing her own projects, she works as a scriptwriter-for-hire, ghostwriter, script doctor, journalist and copywriter, both in the UK and the US. As a scriptwriter she enjoys working in different genres, from comedy to horror to sci-fi — and everything in between. She is the author of two tongue-in-cheek fan books, 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling and Being Benedict Cumberbatch. In 2008-9, she worked as writing assistant to Bernard Rose and was the director’s assistant on his film Mr. Nice. In 2012, she graduated with honors from Royal Holloway, University of London’s MA in Creative Writing. She writes for a variety of publications including DIVA Magazine, the Guardian and Vegan Life Magazine. She has also published short stories and gives academic conference papers.

SO GAY A switcheroo teen comedy about warring teenage sisters – one a Queen Bee with the perfect boyfriend, the other a bullied lesbian outcast – who both wish that the other could understand “what it’s like to be me” They wake to find themselves in a reversed world, where gay is the norm and hetero is the freaky.

BRETTEN HANNAM (Nova Scotia, Canada) is a Métis writer-director whose films focus primarily on outcasts and outsiders, dealing with themes of identity, tradition, and community. His short, Deep End, was shown at film festivals across the world, including Frameline, BFI Flare, and the Iris Prize in Cardiff. He co-wrote the short film Champagne, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. An avid writer, Hannam is a Fellow of the Praxis Centre for Screenwriters, as well as an alumni of the Canadian Film Centre’s Screenwriting Lab. SPEAK THE WOLF After escaping a juvenile reform camp in the far north, Kyle gets lost in the arctic. He is rescued by Arluk, a young Inuit hunter with a troubled past that overshadows their friendship. As food and shelter run out, they are forced to rely on each other to survive and, in the process, face the painful secrets they’ve been trying to elude.

ELIZA LEE (Vancouver, BC), educated in Canada and the Czech Republic, took a detour to Asia as a cinematography trainee before returning to her first passion: screenwriting. Her feature Maybe Tomorrow, about rock legend Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, is being produced by Michelle Sy (Finding Neverland) and Sophia Chang. Highsmith, was honored at Athena Film Festival 2015 and featured in Entertainment Weekly and Indiewire. She recently graduated from the CAPE 2015 Film and TV Writers Fellowship.

HIGHSMITH The story of famed crime novelist Patricia Highsmith and her downward spiral during the McCarthy era, when she could not put her name to the iconic lesbian novel “The Price of Salt.”

MICHAEL PERLMAN (NYC, New York) is a writer and director whose play From White Plains is the recipient of a 2013 GLAAD Media Award and was nominated for New York Innovative Theater awards for Outstanding Premiere Production and Outstanding Full-Length Script. In addition, Michael’s one-person show Flying on the Wing was presented at the New York Fringe Festival, where it was the winner of Outstanding Solo Show. Michael is an Artistic Associate with both Fiasco Theater and Fault Line Theatre. He is proud to be a member of SDC, a Drama League Directing Fellow, and he holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from Brown/Trinity MFA Programs, where has also served on faculty.

FROM WHITE PLAINS When screenwriter Dennis wins a screenwriting Oscar for his film about his best friend’s suicide, he uses his acceptance speech as a way to call out the bully he thinks is responsible, Ethan Rice. “From White Plains” explores the fallout of that speech, and examines how Dennis, Ethan, and those closest to them are affected.

MICHAEL PATRICK SPILLERS (Los Angeles, CA) is a playwright and screenwriter whose plays have been produced throughout the Los Angeles indie theatre scene, including Casa 0101, Company of Angels, and Watts Village Theatre Company. His screenplay FOLLOW (about the intersection between marriage equality and the Black church) is currently in pre-production, to be directed by Melanie Mayron (Jane the Virgin) and starring Frenchie Davis (The Voice). Whittier Blvd began as a one-act play, traveling with the Gay Latino theatre troupe “Brown & Out” to the NYC Fringe Festival, where it was selected as one of IndieTheatreNow’s “Best of FringeNYC 2014″. Michael recently produced and directed Teatro Moz, a sold-out evening of short plays celebrating the unique cult of Latino fandom surrounding Morrissey and The Smiths.

WHITTIER BLVD Andrés is a 17-year-old Latino trans guy, obsessed with the music of Morrissey – and in love with Sheila, the beautiful lead singer of a local ragtag rockabilly band. When his father refuses to provide parental consent for transition therapy, Andrés runs away from home in search of his estranged mother.


About Outfest

Founded by UCLA students in 1982, Outfest is the leading organization that promotes equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBT stories on the screen. Outfest builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world to audiences of nearly a million, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers and protected more than 30,000 LGBT films and videos.

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MPRM Communications
Guido Götz












Los Angeles, May 7, 2015 – Outfest – the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBT stories on the screen – today announced its galas, including Opening and Closing Night, for the 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival presented by HBO. The nation’s leading LGBT festival will be held July 9-19, 2015.

The 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival will open with “Tig” – a hilarious and heartfelt documentary about comedian Tig Notaro who became a media sensation and critical smash overnight after she turned her cancer diagnosis into a stand-up set. Co-starring Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K, “Tig” will screen at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on July 9. 

Additional gala screenings include: Sebastián Silva’s Berlin Teddy Award winner “Nasty Baby” starring Silva and Kristin Wiig (U.S. Dramatic Centerpiece); Winner of the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival “The Summer of Sangaile” by Alanté Kavaïté (International Centerpiece); Golden Berlin Bear­–nominated “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” by revered auteur Peter Greenaway (International Centerpiece); the Sundance Grand Jury Prize–nominated “Best of Enemies” by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon (Documentary Centerpiece); and Malcolm Ingram’s inspirational documentary on LGBT athletes, “Out to Win” (Documentary Centerpiece).

The 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival will close on July 19 with “The New Girlfriend” – a one-of-a-kind gender-bending melodrama from the visionary mind of François Ozon, starring five-time Cesar Award nominee Romain Duris and two-time Cesar Award nominee Anais Demoustier.

“This year’s gala selections underline the fact that our community is empowered openly identifying as LGBT,” says Christopher Racster, Interim Executive Director of Outfest. “The program truly represents Outfest’s commitment to use the power of film to reflect our community; highlighting our struggles and our triumphs, and ultimately creating greater understanding and change within society.”

“We’re excited to be presenting an exceptional collection from modern masters, as well as welcoming back returning alums, and showcasing remarkable debuts,” adds Outfest Director of Programming Lucy Mukerjee-Brown. “Whether it’s celebrating the increasing visibility of LGBT athletes, or portraying contemporary social class matters, our galas are an exceptional collection of movies that showcase the complexity and timeliness of LGBT issues. This year’s filmmakers have raised the bar, exploring unique characters while also delivering a cinematic experience of the highest quality.”

The complete lineup for the 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival will be announced on June 3.

The 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is proudly presented by HBO, a partnership that has spanned nineteen years. Grand Sponsors include DIRECTV, Ease Entertainment Services, and Frontiers Media. For more information about sponsorship, visit



Tig (Opening Night Gala) Directors: Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York

“Good evening. Hello. I have cancer,” comedian Tig Notaro famously announced in front of a stunned audience in 2012. “Is everybody having a good time?” In just 30 minutes, Notaro not only revealed her grave prognosis to the world, but she also delivered the news with a disarming mixture of humor and vulnerability. The standup set became a media sensation and critical smash overnight and, as Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York’s new documentary reveals, helped push the beloved comedian past a series of setbacks and into the limelight. Notaro was left with no choice but to turn profound pain into an ongoing punch line, both on- and off-stage. The result is an alternately hilarious and poignant window into a comedian’s process, turning her worst fears and anxieties into pure comedic gold. The film also features Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K., the man who ensured Tig’s now-famous “cancer comedy” was heard by millions of appreciative listeners across the globe.

The New Girlfriend (Closing Night Gala) Director: François Ozon

From the visionary mind of François Ozon (“8 Women,” “Swimming Pool”) comes his one-of-a-kind gender-bending melodrama, which both shocks and delights in equal measure. Steeped in suspense and indebted to the eye-popping visuals of Pedro Almodóvar, Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, “The New Girlfriend” blends the macabre with a heartfelt romance in the tale of soft-spoken Claire and her love affair with a mysterious stranger. After mourning the loss of Laura, her childhood friend (and unrequited love), Claire comes across Laura’s husband dressed head-to-toe in his late wife’s clothes. Unsure whether his new guise is the result of foul play, she threatens to reveal David to Laura’s family. But the more time she spends with him, the more Claire becomes seduced by his beautiful new incarnation. As the two become inseparable, Claire wonders whether she is falling for David’s alter-ego, or perhaps a part of Laura’s resurrected soul.

“The New Girlfriend” pays homage to classic Hollywood cinema – from “Rebecca” to “All About My Mother” – while injecting its own brand of sensual, sometimes sinister, eroticism.

The Summer of Sangaile (International Centerpiece) Director: Alanté Kavaïté

Winner of the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Alanté Kavaïté’s “The Summer of Sangaile” is arguably one of the year’s most visually stunning films. It also happens to be one of the most romantic. Set against the bright summer skies of Lithuania’s countryside, the story begins with a chance meeting between two restless youths – the quiet, angst-ridden Sangaile and her polar-opposite love interest Auste, a beguiling and beautiful fashionista. Sangaile dreams of flying one of the stunt planes that speed through the clouds above her parent’s home, but her vertigo keeps her aspirations grounded. It’s only when Auste prods her to accompany a pilot’s trip that Sangaile forces herself to take a leap of faith.

Kavaïté’s film is a shot-by-shot tour-de-force. Her camera defies gravity, soaring high into the sky as well as nestling within the film’s quietest and most intimate moments. “The Summer of Sangaile” moves like a dream, transporting us into a surreal landscape where love and self-fulfillment are just a flight away.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato (International Centerpiece) Director: Peter Greenaway

“Eisenstein in Guanajuato” – which premiered to widespread acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival – kicks dust in the face of the rickety biopic, injecting life into all things rich, wild and deliciously taboo. Revered filmmaker Peter Greenaway (“The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”) brings out the best of his acclaimed and controversial filmmaking style in this bold and sexually explicit celebration of Sergei Eisenstein’s gay coming-of-age during what is now considered his transformative trip to Mexico during the 1930s. Temporarily free of Soviet constraints, the famed Russian director (played by Elmer Bäck) discovers his wild side upon meeting and bedding a gorgeous tour guide named Palomino (Luis Alberti, “Carmin Tropical”). What starts as a work-related trip becomes a dizzying journey into the mind of a visionary who, at the peak of his artistic power, discovers romance for the first time. The result is a wild experiment in abstract storytelling that overflows with joy and energy. Greenaway captures Eisenstein’s essence and makes his enthusiasm for art and sex our own.

Nasty Baby (U.S. Dramatic Centerpiece) Director: Sebastián Silva

Hipsters beware: “Nasty Baby” plays nice until a disturbing twist flips the film – and with it the entire quirky-cute indie canon – on its head. A certifiable shocker at the Sundance Film Festival, Sebastián Silva’s biting and provocative black comedy has already inspired both walkouts and accolades, including the prestigious Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.

An attractive gay Brooklyn couple, Freddy (Silva) and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe, “Rachel Getting Married,” TV On The Radio), ask their best friend Polly (Kristin Wiig) to become their surrogate. As the three hipsters contemplate becoming one big progressive family, and as Freddy and his assistant Wendy (Alia Shawkat, “Arrested Development”) create what they’re convinced is a brilliant art show, signs of danger and instability, primarily from a disturbed neighbor named The Bishop, intrude upon the film’s squeaky-clean surface. Director Silva (“Magic Magic, Crystal Fairy”) cleverly shows audiences what they want to see, only to rip the rug out from under and expose – with pitch-black humor – the hypocrisy of Brooklyn’s latte-sipping elite.

Best of Enemies (Documentary Centerpiece) Directors: Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon

While violence erupted in the streets during the long hot summer of 1968, two literary giants faced off in an intellectual clash of the titans — with no holds barred. Directors Morgan Neville (the Oscar-winning “20 Feet from Stardom”) and Robert Gordon take us back to an electrifying moment in history, as the third-place ABC network took a bold step for TV news: Take ideologically opposed pundits Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley and allow them to debate the issues every night. Live. Never at a loss for words, the authors faced off with equal fervor and venom, culminating in the famous exchange in which Vidal labeled Buckley a “crypto-Nazi,” leading Buckley to respond by calling Vidal “queer” on national TV. This captivating Sundance favorite shows us what these legendary combatants had in common — both were intellectuals and failed political candidates from patrician backgrounds — mixing interviews with their friends and enemies along with Vidal and Buckley’s public and private writings (narrated by John Lithgow and Kelsey Grammer). These legendary TV battles represented both the decline of intellectual discourse in the mass media and the rise of right-vs.-left talking heads masquerading as news.

Out To Win (Documentary Centerpiece) Director: Malcolm Ingram

One of the final frontiers for LGBT visibility in this country is the locker room, and “Out To Win” celebrates the pioneers who have worked to make the world of sports a more diverse and inclusive one. Screening his fourth consecutive documentary at Outfest Los Angeles, filmmaker Malcolm Ingram (“Continental,” “Bear Nation,” “Continental”, Outfest Jury Prize–winner “Small Town Gay Bar”) takes an expansive look at out-and-proud champions, from early envelope-pushers like Billie Jean King and David Kopay through current superstars like Jason Collins and Brittney Griner to the college athletes who are defying conventions and opening minds. (When major players like Nike start a campaign celebrating sexual and gender diversity in sports, you can sense institutionalized homophobia being forced to retreat.) Mixing historical context with the ever-changing face of modern sports, Ingram introduces us to athletes from around the world who are sharing their stories, speaking their truths and making a difference


Founded by UCLA students in 1982, Outfest is the world’s leading organization that promotes equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBT stories on the screen. Outfest builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 35,000 LGBT films and videos. Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is eleven days of world-class films, panels, and parties.


Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and the world’s most successful pay TV service, providing the two television services – HBO® and Cinemax® – to approximately 122 million subscribers worldwide.  The services offer the popular subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand® and Cinemax On Demand®, as well as HBO GO®and MAX GO®, HD feeds and multiplex channels. In April 2015, HBO NOWSM, the network’s highly anticipated standalone premium streaming service, began providing audiences with instant access to HBO’s acclaimed programming in the U.S. HBO NOW is available directly through Apple or Optimum Online for a monthly subscription.  Internationally, HBO branded television networks, along with the subscription video-on-demand products HBO OnDemand and HBO GO, bring HBO services to over 60 countries.  HBO and Cinemax programming is sold into over 150 countries worldwide. 


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