Defiantly planting themselves on the Los Angeles film calendar in the midst of blockbuster season, Outfest aims to celebrate all types of gay and lesbian films -- and is legendary for fabulous parties, too. Now in its 25th year, the festival began last Thursday; Kim Voynar has already noted some of the anticipated highlights. The festival 's opening gave Ernest Hardy a chance to ruminate on the current state of queer cinema. Writing in the LA Weekly last week, Hardy began: "Watching most contemporary queer movies, particularly the American ones, is to see art reflect the downside of the progress achieved in the culture wars." A great read.

Hardy's an excellent writer; in his blog, he reviews RuPaul's Starrbooty. Fellow LA Weekly writer Chuck Wilson made some general observations about the festival and reviewed several titles, singling out The Bubble (from Israel) and While You Are Here (from Germany). Taking a different approach at indieWIRE, Kim Adelman sang the praises of 15 outstanding shorts in the program, notably Pariah. Ross von Metzke has been filing daily dispatches for GayWired.com, in his latest, he says that Jonah Markowitz's Shelter is so refreshing "that it's the first time a gay American film from a gay American filmmaker has really resonated with me." Just to add a little swank, Mr. Nightlife Hollywood has a photo post from the cocktail reception for the doc For the Bible Tells Me So, which just got distribution. Greg Hernandez says seeing the film was at the top of his list of rich, special Outfest experiences. Andre Soares posted an opinionated overview and has followed up with more daily highlights. The festival continues through Monday, July 23.