Openly gay former WWE star Fred Rosser (Darren Young) will be honored at the 21stannual OUTshine Film Festival in Miami. Credit: RealFredRosser.com

OUTshine Film Festival, the largest LGBT festival in the Southeast, celebrates its 21stanniversary this year in Miami with an expanded 11-day schedule, April 18 – 28, featuring more than 85 indie, foreign and short films.

Executive Director Victor Gimenez said, “This year's lineup is especially exciting, as we have a large percentage of women filmmakers participating, as well as films from a wider range of countries and continents, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the U.K.”

The festival kicks off on Thursday, April 18 with "Tell it to the Bees," starring Academy Award winner Anna Paquin, at the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex in Overtown. Afterwards, the opening night party will feature culinary demonstrations by local celebrity chefs.

In addition to the films, talkback sessions with filmmakers and popular afterparties, OUTshine will host a "Let’s Stop HIV Together" event on Saturday, April 27, featuring short documentary films from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Alex McFry, a Florida State University student — both sharing the personal stories of people from all walks of life living with HIV. The event will also be co-produced by two local organizations, Latinos Salud and University of Miami Health System.

"Where Justice Ends," a documentary by South Florida filmmaker George Zuber, will receive its world premiere on Saturday, April 27 at 2:30 p.m. 

Zuber’s film chronicles the intersection of two important and timely social justice issues: the U.S. criminal justice system and the treatment of the transgender community in America. 

One in six transgender persons is likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lives, including nearly half of black transgender people. "Where Justice Ends" examines how high unemployment, family rejection and homelessness contribute to these staggering rates of incarceration and how the cycle can be halted.

"During the course of completing my prior film, ‘Just Gender,’ I heard, again and again, bits and pieces of stories describing the experiences of transgender people at all stages when they encountered the police, the courts and prison," explained Zuber. "Neither those stories nor the frequent news reports prepared me for the actual conditions experienced by transgender people. This film offers a glimpse into those conditions and gives a voice to the individuals who experienced that treatment.”

WWE wrestler Fred Rosser, who competed as Darren Young, will be presented with the festival’s Vanguard Award and a key to the city at the closing party on Sunday, April 28. Rosser, who used to live in Miami Beach, founded the #BlockTheHate social media campaign.

“Being the first openly gay wrestler [in WWE], I’ve been able to encourage and inspire wrestling fans all over the world to chase their dreams. I’ve been able to show other LGBTQ athletes that they have a duty to instill confidence in the youth and to lead by example,” Rosser said.

The OUTshine Film Festival runs April 18 – 28 with most screenings at the Regal Cinemas South Beach, 1120 Lincoln Rd. in Miami Beach. A complete schedule and tickets can be found at OUTshineFilm.com. Watch SFGN next week for mini-reviews of several festival films.