This year the OUTshine Film Festival in Miami is celebrating 20 years of inspiration, education, escape, and community in queer filmmaking. Big bonus: When you step out of the cinema, you’re in sizzling Miami!
What began several names (more on that here) and two decades ago is a must on the queer film fest circuit with screening venues in and around South Beach, more than 50 films, and events and parties for the Opening Night film (My Big, Gay Italian Wedding), Centerpiece Film (The Marriage), producers and filmmakers, Ladies’ Spotlight Film (Kiss Me [Embrasse Moi]), Men’s Spotlight film (Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco & Party) , young people, filmmakers, and lovers of Flash Gordon (which ought to be everyone).
“This year’s festival is especially important because we’re celebrating a huge milestone. Twenty years ago, there was no dedicated film festival that celebrated voices like ours, and to still be around and to have grown to a twice annual festival is a huge accomplishment,” says OUTSHINE’s executive director, Victor Gimenez.
The OUTshine Film Festival’s 20th anniversary season will include over 50 films, multiple panel discussions with filmmakers and talent, and more than 15 parties and events throughout the week-long festival.
“We’re very excited to be able to bring in more than 20 celebrities, filmmakers, and other notable industry talent such as Judith Kasen-Windor (Edie Windsor’s wife), Dreya Weber, Lily Holleman, Jana Winternitz, Kit Williamson, John Halbach, Amara Cash,Yen Tan, and Dr. Bruce Hensel.”
“My Big Gay Italian Wedding” (“Puoi Baciare Lo Sposo”)
Director: Alessando Genovesi, Italy
Opening Night, International Premiere
Antonio and Paolo live happily together in Berlin and are finally getting married. They decide to celebrate in the small village in Italy where Antonio grew up. While his mother immediately supports his intentions, her husband Roberto, the town Mayor, is much more reluctant. Paulo, who has not spoken to his conservative mother in a long time, must get her to the wedding as a condition of the marriage. Throw in a couple of wacky roommates and the aisle to the alter is paved with hilarity, hijinks and lots of love!
Director: Jenny Mackenzie, Jared Ruga, and Amanda Stoddard, USA
In Salt Lake City, the religious monoculture severely complicated the AIDS crisis. Patients received no support from and were even exiled from the political, religious, and medical communities. Mormon culture encouraged gay men to marry women and have a family to cure themselves of their “affliction”. This counsel led to secret affairs and accidental marital transmissions. In the entire state and intermountain region there was only one doctor to serve all HIV/AIDS patients. This is the story of her fight to save the lives of a maligned population everyone else seemed willing to just let die.
Director: Sonia Sebastian, USA
A quick-paced comedy featuring a group of women who come together to launch a tech start-up. Billie, on impulse, quits her soul-sucking office job and is left to figure out “now what?” She meets a ragtag group of women also looking for employment and is struck with the idea of cultivating their skills to create an app for freelancers. While the start-up is starting up, Billie is also in the throes of planning a wedding to her longtime girlfriend. Juggling wedding plans and a startup – is there an app for that?
Director: Yen Tan, USA
Closing Night Film, East Coast Premiere
Inspired by the award-winning short of the same name, 1985follows Adrian (Cory Michael Smith, Gotham), a closeted young man returning to his Texas hometown for Christmas during the first wave of the AIDS crisis. Burdened with an unspeakable tragedy in New York, Adrian reconnects with his younger brother and estranged childhood friend as he struggles to divulge his dire circumstances to his religious parents played by Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis. Shot in luscious black & white, 1985 is a beautiful, powerful film both in story and style.
Director: Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, United Kingdom
Alexander McQueen’s rags-to-riches story is a modern-day fairy tale. An unremarkable working-class boy, he harnessed his demons to become a global fashion brand and one of the most iconic artists of the century. How did this punk rebel overturn the silver-spoon world of Paris haute couture, and why, at the height of acclaim and power, did he shockingly put an end to it all? Mirroring the savage beauty, boldness and vivacity of his design, McQueen is an intimate revelation of his own tortured and inspired world, which celebrates a radical and mesmerizing genius of profound influence.
“The Marriage” (“Martesa”)
Director: Blerta Zeqiri, Kosovo
In a rare gay-themed film from Kosovo, Anita and Bekim are adding the final touches to their big wedding day which is only two weeks away. Despite expecting news about Anita’s parents, declared missing since the 1999 Kosovar War, and having to deal with Bekim’s controlling family, the couple seems to manage all the preparations. But when Nol, Bekim’s secret gay lover, returns unexpectedly from abroad, the situation becomes complicated, especially since Bekim realizes that a spark still exists. Inevitably, the wedding banquet becomes loaded with tension as the unusual love triangle starts to unravel.
“Hard Paint” (“Tinta Bruta”)
Director: Filipe Matzembacher, Brazil
Hiding behind colors, a fluorescent soul comes to life. While facing criminal charges, Pedro must grapple with his sister’s sudden decision to move away and leave him behind. Alone in the darkness of his bedroom and covered in neon paint, he dances while thousands of strangers watch him via webcam. His loneliness is broken when he meets another dancer and together they can chase their dreams. Hard Paint paints a melancholic portrait of how the burden of being different and the artificial construct of internet chats break down social bonds.
Director: Sebastián Lelio, United Kingdom
Sebastián Lelio’s (A Fantastic Woman) mesmerizing and intimate film follows Ronit (Rachel Weisz), a New York Photographer, who returns home to mourn her father’s death in the community that shunned her decades earlier for an attraction to a female childhood friend (Rachel McAdams). Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Paying equal respect to personal liberty and religious conviction, Disobedience is much more than a topical culture-war drama. It is a thoughtful, tender story about looking in, reaching out, discovering what you truly believe, and fighting for it.
“Alaska Is a Drag”
Director: Shaz Bennett, USA
Tough, but diva fabulous, Leo is an aspiring drag superstar stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. He and his twin sister are trapped in the monotony of fist fights and fish guts and spend their days figuring out how to escape to a better place. Out of necessity, Leo learns to fight back, which catches the attention of the local boxing coach. When a new boy moves to town and wants to be his sparring partner, Leo must face the real reason he’s stuck in Alaska.
“Postcards From London”
Director: Steve McLean, United Kingdom
Buff and beautiful teenager Jim (Harris Dickinson, Beach Rats) moves from the London suburbs to Soho where he falls in with a gang of unusual high-class male escorts—The Raconteurs—who specialize in intelligent post-coital conversation. From shy novice to sought after escort and eventually artist’s muse, Jim would be the toast of the town if it wasn’t for his annoying affliction—Stendhal Syndrome—a rare condition which causes him to hallucinate and faint. When Jim is roped into the world of detecting art forgery, could his condition bring about his downfall?
“A Moment in the Reeds”
Director: Mikko Makela, Finland and United Kingdom
Having moved to Paris for university, Leevi returns to his native Finland for the summer to help his estranged father renovate the family lake house. Tareq, a recent asylum seeker from Syria, has been hired to help. When Leevi’s father must return to town, the two young men establish a connection and spend a few days discovering one another. The film casts the long-marginalized voices of sexual and ethnic minorities center-stage in an exploration of contemporary Finnish society and national identity, but the struggles and issues are universal.
Director: Amara Cash
Maya, a talented, queer artist, is desperate to attend art school in Italy but lacks the funds to do so. Instead, she spends her days escaping into her drawings and social media, where she pines over the enigmatic Jasmine. Jasmine is an aspiring designer in an emotionally charged, co-dependent relationship with her neurotic sugar daddy. All three become implicitly connected, though none of them realize it, and their respective relationships blossom. With a great soundtrack, candy colored palette and vibrant performances, Daddy Issues is for the misfits, the dreamers, the lovers, and loners in all of us.