Not that many years ago Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival was just a 3 day Event and an off-shoot of its ‘big brother’ in Miami Beach. Now under a new Executive Director and a new banner the MiFo LGBT Film Festival, it is now ‘fully grown up’ and is about to launch its 7th Annual Edition spread over two weekends in October and showing over 50 of the best LGBT movies of the year. It’s an exciting and eclectic program that has some very diverse screenings which looks like it covers most of the bases, so here then is queerguru’s pick of the best ‘must-see’ movies of the Festival.
Beautiful Something. : Four gay men of different generations are searching for love, and much more, one cold winter’s night in Philadelphia and this is the story of how their paths cross until the morning breaks. Written and directed by Joseph Graham (‘Strapped’) this edgy and very sensual and unsentimental movie is by no means perfect but it’s forthright take on contemporary gay life ….. well, sex anyway …. and is both refreshing and extremely entertaining.
Daddy : Colin seems to have it all. He’s a handsome man in his mid-forties whose successful newspaper column has just leap-frogged him into being the anchor of a TV current affairs show. He also has a penchant for dating younger guys who usually make him very happy, but when he meets Tee his handsome 22 year old intern he unsuspectingly bites off far more than he can chew, and life for either of then will never the same. Starring and directed by Gerald McCullouch (from CSI), this drama’s deceptively simple plot, executed with both passion and polish, and is a wee gem.
Liz In September : This first ever lesbian love story from Venezuela stars the stunningly beautiful (and extremely talented) Patricia Velasquez (from The L Word) and is a delightful heartfelt drama. Liz is a womaniser and a good-time girl who lives on an idyllic lesbian beach resort and she thinks Eva the new arrival will be just yet another conquest. However things have a way of not always turning out as she plans, especially as she is also harboring a dark secret which will change everything. Unquestionably the best women’s movie of the program, plus as a real treat Ms Velasquez will be there for the Q & A and the After Party.
Like You Mean It: If you ever have felt bewildered falling in and out of love, then you will want to see this charming wee movie from actor/director Phillip Karner. Thirty-something-year-old gay couple Mark and Jonah’s relationship is already looking shaky when they go out with their best friends to celebrate Mark’s latest birthday. The evening doesn’t quite turn out as planned when the friends announce that for the next three months leading up to their wedding they are allowing each other licence to have final flings. This signals the start for Mark & Jonah to think if they should do the same or even go one step further. Skillfully played out and engaging to the last scene, but maybe you should think twice about taking your boyfriend to see this one if you’re really not sure if he is a keeper. LOL.
Oriented : Brit filmmaker Jake Witzenfeld’s impressive and heartwarming documentary is an intriguing snapshot of what life is like for gay Arabs living in a trendy suburb of Tel Aviv today. He follows three extremely engaging best friends in their early twenties for 18 months through 2013 – 2014 when tensions between Gaza and Israel flared up yet again. What is refreshing is the film paints a totally different and more realistic picture of life in the Region than most other gay movies which are either overly romantic dramas which inevitably end in tragedy, or are war/terrorist laden plots. He doesn’t shy away from the vitriol and hate that these boys have to deal with as evident from some of the very outrageous response that their videos received, but he shows that these smart, funny, streetwise boys also have a great time just simply acting their age. It will hopefully make you rethink.
Reel In The Closet : Stu Maddox is a very determined gay activist and filmmaker whose passionate obsession with LGBT history has resulted in three excellent documentaries that deal with different aspects of gay communities in the past. This latest one ‘Reel in the Closet’ is a feature length movie that is comprised of a wealth of unseen footage of old gay and lesbian home movies that date back to the 1930’s and are backed up with some recorded news stories of the times. Our community needs to know it’s own history both now and later and this fascinating new film is another part of the journey of discovery. Plus the filmmaker will be there to introduce the movie and host a Q & A about his passion.
Tab Hunter Confidential: This latest documentary from Emmy Award Winning Filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz is his fourth one on a gay icon (last year he made the superb ‘I am Divine’). This year his subject Tab Hunter was …. and still is at age 83 years-old …a stunningly handsome man. When he was a teen idol in the 1950’s he was the ultimate clean-cut all-American boy and seemingly butter would not melt in his mouth and who became Warner Brothers Studio’s biggest box office movie star for at least three of the years of his tenure there. He is disarmingly charming and much franker and open about his life … both then and now …. than he has ever been before. It’s one profile/tribute that you will so not want to miss.
Those People: Once in a blue moon we come across a fresh new voice in LGBT cinema who is capable of taking the medium to a higher and different plane, and we definitely think that Joey Kuhn the writer/director of this movie, is one such remarkable new discovery. In this delightful story about the consequences of young unrequited love, Kuhn focuses on friendships and relationships, and for a refreshing change not on the men’s sexuality. He did however imbue the scenes between Charlie and and his never-to-be Sebastian with such a sensuality that comes with any connection which teeters around being almost physical, and when Charlie does have a beau and consummates their relationship, the emphasis was on being both tender and erotic rather than just explicit. This is the Closing Night movie for the Festival so be prepared for an extraordinary movie, and to go out on a real high.
After the trailer, check out a conversation we had with Joey Kuhn about how this debut movie has being wowing crowds all over the country this summer.
54 The Directors Cut: Our final choice is one of our favorites in which writer/director Mark Christopher magically visualizes the heady glorious days the infamous Studio 54 which was THE dance club in Manhattan, that for a few short years in the late 1970s was where all the celebrities hung out and partied whilst all the desperate would-be’s were kept outside behind the velvet ropes begging Steve Rubell the co-owner and ringmaster to be let in. Shot 17 years ago with a young (and super hot) Ryan Phillipe who plays an innocent New Jersey boy who strips his way in and starts at the bottom as a lowly bar boy but literally f..ks his way to becoming the next new hottest bartender which is one of the most coveted jobs in the place. This exhilarating story with some of the very best disco music of the period will have you literally dancing in your seats whatever your age.
The 7th Annual Fort Lauderdale Edition of The MiFo LGBT Film Festival takes place from Friday, October 9th until Sunday, October 18th. For information and tickets for all the movies and the events (and boy, do these people know how to party too!) check out http://www.mifofilm.com.
P.S. Click on the links above for our full review of each of the movies.