Celebrity Events

Outfest Honors ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ ‘Brokeback’ Producer James Schamus

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“Dallas Buyers Club,” “Milk” and “Brokeback Mountain” were all Oscar nominees, all have gay themes, and all were produced by James Schamus, this year’s Outfest Achievement Award honoree.

The opening night gala on Thursday features the awards presentation followed by a screening of  “Life Partners,” at the Orpheum Theater downtown. Born in Detroit (as a fellow Michigander, this acknowledgement is required), Schamus has a hefty slate of popular films as an executive (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Hulk,” “The Brothers McMullen”), and is an important supporter of independent, including LGBT, film.

download  As head of Focus Features, for instance, he supported artists-filmmakers such  as Gus Van Sant (“Milk,” 2008), Dee Rees (“Pariah,” 2011) and Lisa Cholodenko  (“The Kids Are All Right,” 2010).

And he hasn’t shied from more obscure projects, such as “Roy Cohn/Jack Smith,” from director Jill Godmilow. The one-actor/two-character performance features actor Ron Vawter as the notorious McCarthy-era lawyer Cohn, and as the flamboyant filmmaker Jack Smith. While the men lived their lives 180-degrees apart, Cohn and Smith both died of AIDS.

As a writer, Schamus’ output includes “The Ice Storm,” “Eat Drink Man Woman,” and the funny and heart-tugging LGBT film “The Wedding Banquet,” thought-provoking with a mainstream sensibility.

“My own taste often veers into the most obscure and heavily avant-garde around,” says Schamus as quoted on IMDb. “I find that those films are to me inspirational and important and it’s important that folks like me in the business engage and think and cherish avant-garde film.”

For more about the Opening Night Gala, or for the Outfest schedule July 10-20,  see http://www.outfest.org/fest2014.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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