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A Pandemic Can’t Dim Florida’s Queer OUTshine Film Festival

OUTshine

The Fort Lauderdale edition of OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival will return for its 13th year from October 14 to October 24. While last year’s festival was virtual, this year will offer in-person events including 35 physical screenings. 

“It was important to offer as many in-person events as possible,” says the festival’s Executive Director Victor Gimenez. “OUTshine was built as a communal experience. It is an opportunity for the community to gather together to watch the same story, share the same experience, and then discuss our thoughts and feelings with one another.” 

OUTshine film festival has developed its unique brand by showcasing a diversity of LGBTQ+ films from around that world that inspire, entertain and educate. It launched in 2008 as The Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and expanded ten years later to include a separate festival in Fort Lauderdale. Both were eventually brought together as OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Held every April, the Miami edition of OUTshine focuses on global films while the Fort Lauderdale edition, held in October, shines the spotlight on the best in American independent films.

As it did for the entire movie industry, the pandemic forced OUTshine to pivot to virtual screenings last year. “It was challenging,” recalls Gimenez, “but the main lesson we learned was that we could do it. We were able to adapt very quickly to changing circumstances. The organization discovered that patrons enjoyed the opportunity to watch films from the comfort of their own homes.”

Being virtual also offered OUTshine the opportunity to go beyond Miami and Fort Lauderdale and market to the entire state of Florida. “It proved there was an appetite for LGBTQ films beyond South Florida,” Gimenez continues.

OUTshine will next set its site on expanding into Palm Beach County, an area of South Florida that includes the affluent towns of Boca Raton, Del Ray Beach and West Palm Beach. They will begin by reaching out to community partners in the Palm Beach area to create one-off screening experiences as a way to introduce OUTshine to the local communities. They will then create monthly screenings, followed by a weekend long (4-day) inaugural festival in Palm Beach County.

Before they can proceed, however, Gimenez says they must first return the Miami and Fort Lauderdale festivals to normalcy – and that means theatrical screenings. The Fort Lauderdale Edition of OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival will be its first step towards that aim, but it must be done with care as some in the community are not yet comfortable with attending in-person screenings. Others are restricted to do so because of health concerns. For them, 30 of the 35 theatre screenings will be available for at-home screening. Another nine films will be virtual-only.

Firebird still two men kissing in water
Scene from Firebird.

 

The opening night celebration of OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival Fort Lauderdale Edition will take place at the Museum of Discovery & Science. The opening film will be Firebird, a touching and romantic story about two Soviet Air Force pilots who navigate the precarious line between friendship and a forbidden love. It will screen in the museum’s IMAX theatre, followed by a party in the museum’s Aviation Exhibit. Firebird’s director, Peeter Rebane, will be in attendance for the opening night celebration, along with talent from the film.

 

Alison Bechdel in No Straight Lines
Alison Bechdel in No Straigh Lines

 

No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics, about an under-presented aspect of queer culture that is finally get the attention it deserves with the success of Alison Bechdel's graphic novel turned Broadway musical, Fun Home. Other highlights for the week include Finlandia, a thought provoking film about people who view themselves as a third gender; and Gemmel & Timthe true life story of two black gay men found dead at different times in the home of a politically and financially influential gay white man. 

 

Mayor Pete movie still Pete selfie

Additionally, OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival Fort Lauderdale Edition will present a special screening of Mayor Pete, the documentary that follows Peter Buttigieg from the campaign trail to his cabinet position in the Biden administration.  The screening will take place Saturday, October 16th with an after party at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort Sky Terrace. 

Festivals like OUTshine are important for the LGBTQ+ community. As Gimenez explains, “We showcase films made for an LGBTQ+ audience. They are not the same as those made for a mainstream audience. It’s important that our audiences experience their history as told and shared by fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Tickets for all films being screened at the 13th Annual Fort Lauderdale Edition of the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival are available now at outshinefilm.com.  A special 10-pass is also available for $75 — a $45 savings! Follow on Facebook (@OUTshineFilmFestival) or Twitter and Instagram @OUTshineFilm.

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