The OUTshine Miami Film Festival, April 23 – May 2, will once again showcase the best in new LGBT-themed features, shorts and documentaries with a combination of mostly streaming and outdoor screenings.
The festival will open at Dezerland Drive-In in North Miami with “Potato Dreams of America,” a semi-autobiographical comedy film that chronicles director Wes Hurley’s childhood in Russia and immigration to the United States with his mail-order bride mother.
More than 80 films will then be available via internet streaming beginning April 24. And, like past OUTshine Miami and Fort Lauderdale festivals held since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered theaters, the online films will be available to viewers across the state and not limited to audiences in either city.
“No matter who you are or what your coming out journey has been, we have a film for you,” promised Victor Gimenez, executive director. “One of the greatest strengths of the festival being virtual is that it allows us to show the films for longer periods of time and to a broader audience across the entire state of Florida.”
Like traditional festivals, organizers will still host virtual Q&A sessions with filmmakers and talent and stream them on OUTshine’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
“These will be great because we can we can really go in-depth with talent located across the globe,” Gimenez explained.
The festival will conclude on May 2 with an outdoor screening of “Charlatan” at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
The pandemic offered organizers an opportunity to introduce viewers to new opportunities to enjoy LGBT programming throughout the year: OUTshine At Home. After the festival’s conclusion, members will be able to access eight to 10 films every month, a mixture of brand-new titles and older festival favorites that are not available on any other streaming services.
OUTshine at Home “will enable our audience to discover incredible new content and remain engaged in LGBTQ+ film throughout the year,” Gimenez pointed out.
Here are SFGN’s mini-reviews of five films being screened during the festival’s first weekend:
“Potato Dreams of America”
East Coast Premiere
Friday, April 23, 7 p.m., Dezerland Drive-In
The festival opens with this autobiographical dark comedy about a gay boy growing up in the Soviet Union, his mail-order bride mother and their adventurous escape to America. When they arrive in Seattle, Washington in 1990 to live with Lena's new husband, they both realize life in America is different than they imagined.
SFGN: Fans of the Oscar-winner “The Favourite” or Hulu series “The Great” will appreciate writer/director Wes Hurley’s oddball humor and unconventional approach. Some audiences will scratch their heads, but there’s still plenty of heart — and art — in his story.
“A Good Man”
France/French with English subtitles/108 mins.
Benjamin, a transgender man still transitioning, and Aude are making a life together in Brittany, France. The couple is about to step into uncharted territory, though, as there is no alternative for having a child, other than Benjamin carrying the baby.
SFGN: LGBT festival line-ups are frequently loaded up with coming out stories. It’s refreshing to see trans stories being told, even if this film reminds us of a real-life couple that inspired tabloid headlines in the U.S. a few years ago.
Switzerland/German and Turkish with English subtitles/98 mins.
Beyto is a terrific swimmer and everybody’s buddy. But as the young Turkish-Swiss man falls in love with his handsome coach Mike, his perfect world seems to fall apart. For Beyto’s parents there is only one solution to maintain the tradition and honor of their family: He has to marry a woman as soon as possible.
SFGN: Honestly, we’ve seen this coming-out story before, yet it’s still fresh and engaging, thanks to the good looks and onscreen charisma of stars Burak Ates (Beyto) and Dimitri Stapfer (Mike). Definitely one of our favorite films.
“Narcissus and Goldmund”
East Coast Premiere
Germany, Austria/German with English subtitles/94 mins.
In the dark middle ages, young unruly Goldmund is sent to a monastery by his father to atone for the sins of his mother who abandoned them. There, the passionate, outgoing boy meets Narcissus, a brilliant, scholarly novice, who is introverted and aloof. Quickly, a unique and deep life-long friendship is born.
SFGN: Kids today just don’t realize how good they have it. Think “Name of the Rose” (1986), just without Sean Connery and a twinkish Christian Slater … and murder and that monk conspiracy. Not your usual LGBT festival fare.
Canada/French with English subtitles/101 mins.
When he learns that his birth mother is still alive, a narcissistic young man embarks on a quest to find her. Not only does he discover her living with another woman, but he also learns that he has a twin brother who’s serving as a whipping boy-toy for a particularly depraved priest.
SFGN: We wish we had thought of this particularly eloquent description from the film’s promotional materials: “Saint-Narcisse” is “[an] occasionally twincestuous tale of doppelgängers, doppelbängers and skewed family values.” Freaky!
Watch next week’s issue of SFGN for more mini-reviews from the festival’s second weekend.
The OUTshine Miami LGBT Film Festival 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.