LGBT film fans will be treated to handsome daddies and fascinating documentaries in the second weekend of the MiFo LGBT Film Festival, Oct. 15 – 18. The festival will kick off on Oct. 9 (visit SFGN.com/MiFo2015 to see last week’s mini-reviews of selected films from the first weekend) at NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and continues with screenings at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE 6th St., and The Classic Gateway Theatre, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd.

Among the highlights of the second weekend are “Winning Dad,” a touching family drama about the internal struggle the father of a gay man faces, and “Deep Run,” a documentary about a young transgender man who must survive in the conservative culture of rural North Carolina.

During the festival, the first under the leadership of new executive director Victor Gimenez, 53 films will be screened, including 13 premieres, 28 features, 18 shorts and seven documentaries. The centerpiece film is the director’s cut of “54” on Thursday, Oct. 15 at Cinema Paradiso, and the closing film of the festival is the Lesbian romantic comedy, “Portrait of a Serial Monogamist,” Sunday at The Classic Gateway Theatre.

For a complete schedule, tickets and further information, go to MiFoFilm.com.

Here are mini-reviews of several films from the second weekend of the festival:

“Winning Dad”
Arthur Allen, director
95 min. / USA, 2015
SOUTHEAST PREMIERE
Friday, Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Cinema Paradiso

Colby's father knows that his son is gay, but he doesn't like speaking about it. He respects it, but ignores everything about that aspect of his son's life. He doesn't even know about Colby's long-term boyfriend, Rusty. Increasingly committed to Rusty, Colby hatches a plan to trick his father into camping with Rusty under the pretense that Rusty is Colby's straight friend and future business partner. Colby is convinced that, given the chance, they will get along. The only question is: Will they?

SFGN: The is one of several films in the second weekend of the festival that feature stories about more mature gay men and many in the audience will be able to relate with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” attitude of this family. Director Allen draws emotional performances from the cast that will strike a nerve, too.

“That’s Not Us”
William Sullivan, director
97 min. / USA, 2015
Friday, Oct. 16, 9:15 p.m.
Classic Gateway Theatre

“That’s Not Us” is an intimate portrait of three twenty-something couples—one gay, one lesbian, and one straight—as they travel to a beach house to enjoy the last days of summer. But amidst the fun, sun, sand and carefree attitudes, also comes an exploration of what it takes to sustain a healthy relationship and make love last.

SFGN: I’m not a millennial, but rather a Gen X-er, so this film was challenging. I don’t believe these kids put their phones away for two hours, let alone the weekend away at the beach, but it is beautifully shot and will resonate with younger audiences. Perfect title, because “That’s not us.”

“Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story”
Michael Stabile, director
72 min. / USA, 2015
Saturday, Oct. 17, 5 p.m.
Cinema Paradiso

 With Falcon Studios, gay porn mogul Chuck Holmes built an empire on flesh and fantasy. From 1972 to 2000, Chuck fought the FBI, vice squads and an epidemic to document the emerging gay culture, and provide gay men across the country with a vision of life that was unashamed and celebratory.
But, when he attempts to channel his fortune into the gay rights movement of the ‘90s, he finds that his money is sometimes more welcome than he is.

SFGN: This was one of my favorite documentaries. Director Stabile cleverly incorporates scenes from Falcon porn movies to subtly document the evolution of gay culture in those early years after Stonewall and, later, the AIDS crisis. “Seed Money” is about a lot more than Chuck Holmes’ pivotal role in the rise of the gay porn industry. Spoiler alert: Jeff Stryker is not aging gracefully, but you probably could have guessed that.

The Girl King
Mika Kaurismäki, director
102 min. / Finland, 2015
Saturday, Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Classic Gateway Theatre

Crowned Queen at the age of six, Kristina of Sweden was thrust into a labyrinth of power and tradition, where a court of austere, Lutheran men pressure her to marry and produce an heir to fulfill her destiny. She finds sanctuary and love with her lady-in-waiting, the beautiful and elegant, countess Ebba Sparre. Soon the forces around the Queen realize that Ebba is the key to controlling her, but they underestimate Kristina's brilliant mind and her drive to be free.

SFGN: Historical films are rare at LGBT film festivals, so this feature is a real treat. While “The Girl King” sometimes feels like a History Channel special, it is well written and acted, and great care has been taken with costumes and sets. The attention to detail ultimately makes this film successful.

“Daddy”
Gerald McCullouch, director
89 min. / USA, 2015
EAST COAST PREMIERE
Saturday, Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Cinema Paradiso

Colin McCormack thinks he has it all—a great job, a steady stream of hot younger guys, and a best friend whose devotion he takes for granted. But when a charming intern sweeps him off his feet, Colin sees a chance for something more: A family of his own. What he discovers instead is a shattering secret that may cost Colin everything. By turns funny, heartbreaking and hopeful, “Daddy” explores the universal need for love and connection, and the evolving understanding of "family" in today's rapidly changing world.

SFGN: This is another film that features more mature gay characters and handsome director Gerald McCullouch and writer Dan Via do double duty on screen in appealing performances. But, I was NOT prepared for the unexpected plot twist. No, I was practically blindsided. Don’t miss this film.

“Deep Run”
Hillevi Loven, director
75 min. / USA, 2015
Classic Gateway Theatre

Director Hillevi Loven and LGBTQ supporter Susan Sarandon’s “Deep Run” is a powerful verité portrait of trans life in rural North Carolina. Exiled by her family and rejected by an ex, 17-year-old Spazz has no one to lean on for support. But when Spazz falls in love again and summons up the courage to become Cole, a strong-willed trans man, his candid humor and steadfast, all-inclusive Christian beliefs counter the bigotry he experiences daily.

SFGN: Cole is an extremely charismatic young man and his story will touch audiences, especially those who also grew up in conservative Bible Belt communities. I don’t begrudge Caitlyn Jenner and the spotlight she is thrusting on the transgender community, but people like Cole are the real trailblazers, truly changing hearts and minds.

“Game Face”
Michel Thomas, director
USA, 2015
Sunday, Oct. 18, 3 p.m.
Classic Gateway Theatre

“Game Face” shows the quest to self-realization of LGBT athletes and their acceptance in society. The documentary tells the parallel stories of Fallon Fox, MMAs first transgender pro fighter, and Terrence Clemens, a rising college basketball player in Oklahoma who happens to be gay. The film follows both athletes during their coming out process, and sheds light on the obstacles LGBT athletes deal with throughout their career.

SFGN: Again, I found myself watching this documentary and comparing it to “I Am Cait,” the Caitlyn Jenner/E! reality series. It becomes apparent very quickly that active LGBT athletes still have so far to go before achieving acceptance in their sports. Fox’s story is especially powerful as she shatters many of the stereotypes of transgender women.

“Those People”
Joey Kuhn, director
USA, 2015
Sunday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Cinema Paradiso

Charlie and Sebastian are childhood best friends, despite Charlie’s obsession with his rich, charismatic pal. Following the arrest of Sebastian’s father, Charlie moves in with his friend for support. Soon after Charlie meets Tim, a pianist, whose willingness to talk about his feelings is both intriguing and intimidating to Charlie who faces a choice between what he has always wanted and what might be, though neither option proves easy.

SFGN: This well-written and especially well-acted feature reminded me of a millennial “St. Elmo’s Fire.” I’m dating myself, but found that comparison the best way to relate to the 20-something drama about young people pursuing love in the world of Manhattan society. Jonathan Gordon (Charlie) and Jason Ralph (Sebastian) give raw, emotional performances.

Portrait of a Serial Monogamist
John Mitchell, director
88 min. / Canada, 2015
Sunday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Classic Gateway Theatre

Elsie, a fortysomething television producer and serial monogamist, is beginning to feel restless in yet another long-term relationship. She decides it’s time to break up with her girlfriend and pursue the young DJ/barista she has had her eye on. After successfully landing who she thought was the girl of her dreams, Elsie is faced with the growing realization that she may have broken up with her soulmate.

SFGN: The opening scenes of this feature are the best before the film settles into a more predictable romantic comedy. The ladies will love Diane Flacks (Elsie), but the film also offers poignant lessons about love and loss that will resonate with men, also.


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