By Ray Pride


Los Angeles, July 7, 2016 – Outfest – the Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBT stories on the screen – has announced the recipients of their two major awards. Former Outfest Director of Programming and current Sundance Film Festival Director, John Cooper will receive the 20th annual Outfest Achievement Award and James Franco (“King Cobra,” “127 Hours,” “Milk”) will receive the inaugural James Schamus Ally Award.

The Achievement Award is Outfest’s highest honor and is presented in recognition of a body of work that has made a significant contribution to LGBT film and media. While Cooper is not a traditional filmmaker, his vision has helped to shepherd new directions in independent and LGBT cinema throughout his career. The Achievement Award will be presented by Rose Troche to Cooper prior to the 2016 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival Opening Night Gala screening of “The Intervention” on Thursday, July 7 at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.

“Few people have had a larger role in launching the careers of independent filmmakers than John Cooper. For decades he has lead the way in promoting unique and diverse stories and storytellers – both within the LGBT community and without. Each of our stories matter and Cooper continues to give each one dignity by using Sundance as a platform to share them with the world,” said Outfest Executive Director Christopher Racster.

“It has been my good fortune to play a small part in building a community that discovers and celebrates great queer storytellers and launches their work out into the world. I am honored to receive this award from a vital and trailblazing organization like Outfest and in the company of so many others I admire,” said John Cooper.

Outfest has previously presented the Achievement award to John Cameron Mitchell, James Schamus, Kimberly Peirce, John Waters, Jane Lynch, Bill Condon, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Don Roos, Donna Deitch, Kenneth Anger, Gregg Araki, Todd Haynes, Jane Anderson, Christine Vachon, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Gus Van Sant, Ian McKellen, John Schlesinger, and Strand Releasing.

The James Schamus Ally Award was created to honor the efforts of an individual in bringing LGBTQ stories to the forefront. This award given to a straight ally of the LGBTQ community will be presented by Gus Van Sant to James Franco prior to the Special Centerpiece screening of “King Cobra” on Saturday, July 16 at the DGA. The presentation of the James Schamus Ally Award is co-hosted by “King Cobra” director Justin Kelly and producers Scott Levenson and Jordan Yale Levine.

“The only thing more moving to me than being honored by Outfest is having an honor named after me by Outfest. That James Franco will be the first recipient of this new award makes this doubly an honor. Also, this means I am really old,” said James Schamus.

James Franco commented: “I am thrilled to have my name linked with such a Hollywood legend and someone who shepherded all kinds of stories. Nothing was beyond the pale for Schamus – he saw value and entertainment in it all. His work on “Wedding Banquet” to “Brokeback Mountain” to “Milk” changed the landscape for queer cinema and I only hope to make such an impression.”

2016 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival presented by HBO will be held July 7-17, 2016.

To download 2016 Outfest Los Angeles stills, please visit:

To download the official 2016 Outfest Los Angeles trailer:

Tickets and information
For more information and for a complete listing of films in 2016 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival, log on to or call 213-480-7065, Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 6:00pm.

Outfest members receive benefits such as free tickets, priority entrance to screenings or all access passes. Contact the Box Office for membership, tickets and event information by calling 213-480-7065 or visit Special ticket packages are also available.

The 2016 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is proudly presented by HBO, a partnership that has spanned 20 years. Grand Sponsors include Delta Air Lines, Entertainment Partners, and Frontiers Media. Premiere Sponsors are Clear Channel Outdoor, Comcast NBCUniversal, Directors Guild of America, DIRECTV,, The Grove, Merrill Lynch, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. For more information about sponsorship,

John Cooper’s strides in the programming of big name LGBT events such as Outfest, Sundance Film Festival and his creation of IGNITE, a program that encourages filmmakers ages 18-24, has showcased his immense compassion for the LGBT film community. The films he has curated for both festivals — and the number of filmmaking careers he helped to launch — are innumerable. But as we chart the history of LGBT film, particularly from the New Queer Cinema and onward, it’s impossible to imagine this rich period without Cooper’s championing of young writers, directors and producers, and the spotlight he provided for these formative works.

JAMES FRANCO is an actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher and author. He began his career on FREAKS AND GEEKS and received a Golden Globe Award for his performance in the biographical film JAMES DEAN. Notable film credits include OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, SPRING BREAKERS, Harry Osborn in the SPIDER-MAN trilogy, MILK, THIS IS THE END, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and 127 HOURS for which he received Academy Award, SAG and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor. He has directed and produced several features including CHILD OF GOD, AS I LAY DYING, ZEROVILLE, SATURDAY NIGHT and IN DUBIOUS BATTLE. His small screen credits include 11.22.63 and the highly anticipated upcoming show THE DEUCE. He made his Broadway debut in OF MICE & MEN to rave reviews and directed the off-Broadway play THE LONG SHRIFT. He has been published several times in magazines and through his own books and teaches college courses at UCLA, USC and CAL ARTS, and acting classes at STUDIO 4.

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 131 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. HBO NOW®, the network’s internet-only premium streaming service, provides audiences with instant access to HBO’s acclaimed programming in the U.S. Internationally, HBO branded television networks, along with the subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand 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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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon