The Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival returns to Wilton Manors next weekend and organizers are promising the best ever.
According to Executive Director Franc Castro, the festival, which runs Oct. 13-16 at The Manor, will feature 17 films, additional award-winning shorts and special appearances by filmmakers and actors.
The festival got its start as an adjunct to the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, but in recent years, the organization has worked to grow the Fort Lauderdale festival as its own full-fledged event.
“We were showing 40 films in Miami and only five in Fort Lauderdale,” explains Castro. “We listened to the feedback we got from Fort Lauderdale audiences who were looking for more.”
Organizers moved the Fort Lauderdale festival to the fall three years ago and this is the second year the films have been screened at the Wilton Manors nightclub, The Manor. Castro cites the support of The Manor as key to the success of the festival:
“Ticket sales only cover 20 percent of our costs when you factor in venue rental, film rental, technicians, marketing, ticketing costs….” Castro explains. “The Manor, which is donating the space, and corporate sponsors such as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau are crucial to growing the festival. It’s definitely scaled down (compared to Miami), but the potential is there.”
He also encourages film fans to consider purchasing a $50 festival membership, which not only supports the non-profit organization, but also comes with perks such as discounted tickets and special events throughout the year.
The festival opens Thursday, Oct. 13 with the South Florida premiere of “Dirty Girl,” which was screened at the Toronto gay film festival and was immediately picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Company, the company that released the Oscar nominated, “The Kids Are Alright.” Castro is particularly excited because the movie will be shown on 35mm film, an increasing rarity as many independent filmmakers move to video.
Other highlights include “Kink Crusaders,” a documentary about the leather community and the International Mr. Leather competition in Chicago. The film, which will be shown on Saturday night, Oct. 14, will be of particular interest to local audiences because of a cameo appearance by the 2007 Mr. Ramrod, Scott Melton, who finished third.
One of Castro’s favorites is a double feature on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 3:30 p.m. of “The Grove” and “Life at the End,” two thoughtful films that look at the AIDS National Memorial in San Francisco and end of life issues. The movies will be followed by a panel discussion with attorneys and caregivers to explore the issues raised in the documentaries.
The festival is offering a special $5 ticket price for the film: “We wanted to make sure these films are sold out, as we’re coming up on the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus and it’s just hard to fill seats on anything about AIDS anymore,” Castro says.
A number of filmmakers will also be appearing, including J.C. Calciano (“eCupid”), whose family resides in Coral Springs.
“A film festival isn’t a film festival unless you have the filmmakers there,” notes Castro.
Fans can learn more about the festival at the gala pre-party tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Atlantic Hotel, 601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Visit FLGLFF.com for more information and a full schedule of films.