The OUTshine LGBT Film Festival will honor actor, comedian, and jazz singer Lea DeLaria with the Vanguard Award at its opening night ceremony, Friday, April 23 at 7 p.m. at Dezerland Drive-In in North Miami.
The award recognizes entertainment industry performers and professionals for their contributions and leadership to the LGBT community and support of equality, representation and education, according to Executive Director Victor Gimenez.
“Lea DeLaria was the first openly gay comic on television in America and has enjoyed a multi-faceted, decades-long career as an actor, comedian and musician,” Gimenez said in the announcement. “We’re thrilled to honor and embrace her talent and support for the LGBTQ community with this Vanguard Award, which we hope will inspire others to excel and achieve their dreams.”
In addition to her three-time, Screen Actors Guild Award-winning, stand-out role as Carrie “Big Boo” Black in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” DeLaria has also appeared in “Will & Grace,” “Friends,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show'' and “One Life to Live.” Her film credits include “Cars 3,” “First Wives Club'' and “Edge of Seventeen.”
DeLaria received Obie and Theater World Awards and a Drama Desk nomination for her portrayal as Hildy in the Public Theatre’s revival of “On the Town,” and played both Eddie and Dr. Scott in the gender-bending Broadway musical, “The Rocky Horror Show.”
A multi-talented artist, she released six jazz records on the Warner Jazz and Classics label and her book, “Lea's Book of Rules for the World,” is in its third printing.
“It’s an honor to finally be recognized for a long and illustrious career for muff diving,” the comedian responded to the announcement.
The drive-in style ceremony and screening of Wes Hurley’s autobiographical comedy “Potato Dreams of America” on April 23 will kick off a two-week festival featuring more than 80 LGBT-interest films from around the world. Most of the features, documentaries and collections of shorts are available on-demand within the state of Florida. The Miami edition of the festival concludes on Sunday, May 2 at 7 p.m. with a socially distanced outdoor screening of “Charlatan” at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens.
Last week, SFGN offered mini-reviews of several films from the first week of the festival. Here are some highlights of the second week:
Over the course of a hot summer day in Los Angeles, the lives of 25 young Angelinos intersect. A skating guitarist, a tagger, two wannabe rappers, an exasperated fast-food worker, a limo driver — they all weave in and out of each other’s stories. Through poetry, they express life, love, heartache, family, home and fear. One of them just wants to find someplace that still serves good cheeseburgers.
SFGN: This film highlights just how much the experiences of diverse young people on the West Coast are compared to here in Florida. But never fear, the future looks promising in this refreshing and uplifting feature.
“Calamity, A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary”
France/French with English Subtitles/85 mins.
The great American frontierswoman Calamity Jane, renowned for her sharp-shooting skills, daredevil nature and rejection of gender norms, has been immortalized in popular culture for decades. But before she traveled to Deadwood to become a legend, she was a high-spirited 12-year-old girl named Martha and this exciting family friendly adventure tells her story.
SFGN: There are several fantastic films at the festival this year that focus on women’s stories, but this one is animated! It’s hard enough for filmmakers to get funding for live-action films, so a full-length animated feature is a feat in itself. And, did we mention it’s fun, too?
“Once a Fury”
The Furies were a 1970s lesbian feminist collective that advanced the notion of lesbian separatism to correct what they called the “zig-zag and haphazard” straight women’s movement. The Furies were intense: 12 women began the group, worked together, and then broke up in just under two years. In that short time, they wrote and published a widely read newspaper (also called The Furies) that still seems relevant 50 years later.
SFGN: Women’s history is so often overlooked in our gay male-dominated culture, making this well-made and engaging documentary even more important. Whether you’re lesbian or gay (or trans, bi, pan, etc.), there's plenty to learn from these women’s stories.
“Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation”
This is a story of two of the greatest writers of the past century, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, who are examined in a dialogue that stretches from their early days of friendship to their final unsparing critiques of each other. Both are icons and also anti-heroes, in an era that has become glutted with one-named celebrities.
SFGN: Whether the world needed yet another documentary about Capote is a valid question, but in the hands of filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland and the voices of Jim Parsons (Capote) and Zachary Quinto (Williams), the letters and writings of these unmistakable figures provide the inspiration for a different kind of film.
Sunday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.
Miami Botanical Gardens
Czech Rep./Czech, German with English Subtitles/118 mins.
Few true stories tread the thin line between good and evil as precariously as that of Jan Mikolášek, a 20th-century Czech herbal healer whose great success masked the grimmest of secrets. Mikolášek won fame and fortune treating celebrities of the post-WWI, Nazi, and Communist eras with his uncanny knack for “urinary diagnosis.”
SFGN: We’re not sure which colored hankies you should stuff in those back pockets for the outdoor screening. Yellow for sure, but you might also choose others. We’ll leave it to you to look them up. Definitely a defining film to close out the festival.
The OUTshine LGBT Film Festival Miami edition runs April 23 – May 2 and films can be screened from anywhere in Florida. Tickets for most individual films are $12 each with discounted packages available. For tickets and more information, go to OUTshineFilm.com.