The 13th annual Fort Lauderdale edition of OUTshine LGBT Film Festival returns Oct. 14 – 24 with more than 40 features, documentaries and shorts, but most importantly, live screenings will finally be returning to theaters.

“We’re excited to be back — as an organization and to share that communal experience in the theaters,” said Executive Director Victor Gimenez.

For the past 18 months, the Miami and Fort Lauderdale editions of the festival were largely presented via streaming services. For aficionados who are still cautious about heading back to the theater, OUTshine films will continue to be available online.

Gimenez said a series of monthly screenings this summer in Fort Lauderdale had been well attended despite the surge of the delta variant and he anticipated strong ticket sales.

“We will be encouraging everyone to wear masks while indoors,” added Gimenez, who also pointed out the Fort Lauderdale edition will actually be larger than in previous years with online viewing available on traditionally “dark” days Monday through Wednesday.

The festival officially kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 14 at the Museum of Discovery & Science IMAX theater with “Firebird,” an Estonian film set in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Director Peeter Rebane will be in attendance for the opening night celebration, along with one of the lead actors.

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

A special screening of “Mayor Pete,” the documentary that follows Peter Buttigieg from the campaign trail to his cabinet position in the Biden administration, will be held Saturday, Oct. 16, with an afterparty at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort Sky Terrace.

The festival concludes on Sunday, Oct. 24 at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale with the dark comedy, “The Best Families,” a Colombian-Peruvian production.

SFGN previewed several featured films from the OUTshine LGBT Film Festival Fort Lauderdale edition. Here are our mini-reviews:

“Firebird” 

Thursday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m. 

Museum of Discovery & Science, 

Fort Lauderdale 

Peeter Rebane, dir. 

Estonia, 2021/107 min./English 

Based on a true story, “Firebird” is a thriller set in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. Sergey, a troubled young air force private, is counting the days till his military service ends. His life is turned upside down when a daring fighter pilot, Roman, arrives at the base. Driven by curiosity, Sergey and Roman navigate the precarious line between love and friendship. Sergey is forced to face his past as Roman’s career is endangered by the KGB. 

SFGN: This isn’t quite the Russian version of “Top Gun,” but swaggering fighter pilots are always sexy, no matter their accent. This type of “forbidden love” storyline is familiar on the LGBT festival circuit, but the setting keeps it interesting, along with engaging performances.

“Mascarpone” 

Friday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. 

Savor Cinema, Fort Lauderdale 

Matteo Pilati and Alessandro Guida, dir. 

Italy, 2021/101 min./Italian (Eng. subtitles) 

After Antonio is suddenly dumped by his husband, his life changes forever and for the better. He finds a room in an apartment owned by free-spirited, sex-positive Denis and starts to work in a bakery owned by hunky Luca. He starts dating and opening himself up to hot sexual encounters, as well. Through this process, Antonio realizes it was a mistake to give up his independence for the sake of his past relationship. 

SFGN: “Mascarpone” was our favorite film on the festival lineup. Who doesn’t love dark, handsome Italian men? But the awakening Antonio experiences should resonate with anyone who has found himself alone after a long-term relationship. Highly recommended.

“Finlandia” 

Thursday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. 

Savor Cinema, Fort Lauderdale 

Horacio Alcalá, dir. 

Mexico/Spain, 2021/117 min./Spanish (Eng. subtitles) 

After a devastating earthquake in the southern Mexico province of Oaxaca, life will never be the same for the lives of the Muxes ­— a third gender, neither man, nor woman — who dress as women and date straight men. The first body found after the earthquake belongs to Delirio, an elderly spiritual mentor for the young Muxes. She is a pioneer who has fought for decades so that people like her could find their place in a patriarchal and sexist society.

SFGN: It’s always enlightening to discover how other cultures view their transgender minorities, but this is no documentary. Rather, it is a disturbing and thought-provoking drama that reveals the discrimination and exploitation the Muxes face is not always sexual in nature.

“Sweetheart” 

Saturday, Oct. 23, 7:15 p.m. 

Savor Cinema, Fort Lauderdale 

Marley Morrison, dir. 

UK, 2021/103 min./English 

Seventeen-year-old A.J. is not one of life’s shiny, happy people. A family holiday at a trailer park is her idea of hell. A poorly dressed, moody misfit, she lets everyone know that she would rather be anywhere else. Then she spies flirty, free-spirited lifeguard Isla, who might just be the girl of her dreams. Can A.J. dare to take a first step on the road to happiness? 

SFGN: Queer coming out stories are a staple of LGBT film festivals, but “Sweetheart” offers a quirky, fresh take, this time set against the dreaded family vacation. Plucky performances punctuate Morrison’s effort, along with a punchy script. Ah, summer love.

“The Best Families” 

Sunday, Oct. 24, 6 p.m. 

Sunshine Cathedral MCC, Fort Lauderdale 

Javier Fuentes-León, dir. 

Colombia/Peru, 2020/99 min./Spanish (Eng. subtitles) 

Luzmila and Peta are two sisters who work as housemaids for two aristocratic families who live next door to each other in Lima. They are almost considered a part of the family, or at least that’s what it seems. But one day, as the city is taken over by violent protests, a birthday celebration gathers all the members of both families together, including a gay couple and a bisexual man. A long-held secret involving both households — “upstairs and downstairs” — is suddenly revealed, blowing up the bubble of their privileged world forever.

SFGN: If you remember the ‘70s parody “Soap,” you’ll love “The Best Families.” Director Javier Fuentes-León parodies telenovelas, yet never crosses over into camp (no creepy ventriloquist’s dummies). A sophisticated jazzy score by Selma Mutal also elevates the film.


The OUTshine LGBT Film Festival will be presented Oct. 14-24. For a complete schedule and tickets, go to OUTshineFilm.com.


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