Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, will present the world premiere of "Out in the Cold," a powerful consciousness-raising documentary about homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered young people, Friday at 7 p.m. at the Village at the Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place. The first film project funded by the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the 51-minute movie will be followed by a discussion with Judy Shepard and filmmakers Martin Bedogne and Eric Criswell.
First come the statistics: An estimated 1.3 million American young people are homeless, dying at a rate of 13 per day. It is further estimated that about 500,000 of these young homeless are homosexual, bisexual or transgendered. Experts assert that within 48 hours of leaving home, 42% of these kids, straight or gay, turn to prostitution to survive.
In a straightforward, talking-heads format, Bedogne and Criswell introduce about a dozen young people who either have been thrown out or driven out of their homes when they came out to their families, and they all have horror stories. Much of the documentary was shot in Indianapolis, which means that "Out in the Cold" plumbs the depths of homophobia in America's heartland--and unsurprisingly finds it virtually bottomless.
According to the documentary, all the parents who cast out their children, who had already endured harassment at school, did so out of a conservative religious conviction so strong it outweighed any consideration as to how their offspring are going to survive.
Such parents, says Rhea Murray of Seymour, Ind., an inviting-looking rural community right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, probably had always regarded their children as property rather than individuals. She should know, for she had to struggle to accept that her own son, Bruce, is gay. In accepting him, she has paid the price of being ostracized by her church and neighbors, but she has also become the only person many youngsters in the area can turn to for help and guidance.
Another rural Indiana youth describes how lucky he was that his grandmother took him in after his father cast him out, telling him he hoped his son would die of AIDS. His grandmother stood by him when her minister told her not to shelter her own grandson.
In Indianapolis, a man who came of age homeless and now aids homeless youth spells out just how dangerous it is to live in the street, especially at night and in freezing winter temperatures. As a mother whose son was murdered, Judy Shepard says she cannot understand how a parent could not love his or her child--and cast him or her out on the basis of sexual orientation. (323) 960-2394.
Italian Cinema Forever: Restored Classics From the Mediaset Collection continues at LACMA on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with Roberto Rossellini's "Saint Francis of Assisi" (1950), a major work in the director's canon yet virtually unknown in America. Francois Truffaut proclaimed it "a meditation on perfect joy," and it's easy to see why.
Recruiting nonprofessionals, including some actual Franciscans, Rossellini composes a series of vignettes, sometimes amusing and ultimately profoundly moving, in which St. Francis (Fra' Zazario Gerardi), a man of gentle, mystical faith, leads a group of equally young friars through the countryside, settling in a field where they construct a small stone chapel. They see their mission as bringing peace to the world, drawing followers as well as scoffers, but developing and practicing the faith that will eventually see St. Francis sending them forth in the world on separate paths.
The climactic sequence is St. Francis' comical yet touching encounter with the tyrant Nicolai (Aldo Fabrizi, an giant of the Italian cinema and Neorealism) and his savage band of invaders disarmed by St. Francis' indomitable innocence.
"Saint Francis of Assisi," a stunningly spare yet richly visual work, belongs to that small number of films that that evoke a genuinely spiritual experience.
It will be followed by Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Mama Roma" (1962), starring Anna Magnani as a prostitute who has managed to save enough money to open a produce stand in an open-air market and reclaim the teenage son who has been raised in a small town. Saturday at 7:30 p.m.: Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" (1960). (323) 857-6010.
This is a week rich in Italian cinema. The UCLA Film Archive's Salt of the Earth: The Films of Ermanno Olmi continues at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall tonight at 7:30 with "The Tree of the Wooden Clogs" (1978), an austere, grueling panorama of peasant life in 19th century Lombardy that is the director's masterpiece.
The series concludes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a pair of the director's lesser-known films, "The Legend of the Holy Drinker" (1988) and "Long Live the Lady!" (1987). The first is a droll, gentle fable of beguiling beauty and religious mysticism starring Rutger Hauer. He plays an alcoholic vagrant with a tragic secret who receives an unexpected blessing, yet each time he attempts to repay it he encounters equally unexpected obstacles. Hauer has a low-key power, and Paris never looked so enticingly sleazy and romantic.
"Long Live the Lady!" is a triumph of comic observation. Although not actually a silent film, it plays like one, for what's important here is not what people are saying but what they are doing and what that reveals about them.
The film has a deceptively light tone, and its considerable substance is expressed in subtle ways. Entirely devoid of exposition, the film takes us into a vast mountaintop castle that has been turned into a luxury hotel.
The quality of service is such that it operates its own school for servants; four young men and two young women taking the rigorous course will be rewarded for their efforts by being allowed to help serve at a banquet of apparently the utmost importance.
As it plays out, the flawless servants are the true aristocrats and the guests the peasants. Thus, the banquet emerges as a metaphor for society, and life, with all its absurdities, injustices and distorted values.(310) 206-FILM.