The 2016 MiFo LGBT Film Festival opens this weekend and features more than 50 features, documentaries and short films.
The opening night gala will be held on Friday, Oct. 7 at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale and includes a screening of “Strike a Pose,” a new documentary that revisits the lives of the seven dancers who performed with Madonna on her controversial 1990 “Truth or Dare” tour and subsequently became gay role models in a 1991 film.
Over the two-week festival, screenings will be presented at the Classic Gateway Theatre, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., and Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE 6th Street, both in Fort Lauderdale.
Other special events include a culinary-themed evening on Monday, Oct. 10 at the Gallery of Amazing Things, 481 S. Federal Highway in Dania Beach, with a screening of the comedy, “The Happys,” and a closing night party on Sunday, Oct. 16 at C&I Studios, 541 NW 1st Ave.
Tickets for individual screenings are $11 – 14 and special event admission varies by venue. Tickets, a complete schedule and more information can be found at MiFoFilm.com.
Capsule reviews of select films from the first weekend were published in last week’s issue. Here are some of the highlights of the second week of the festival, including a more diverse line-up featuring several powerful lesbian and transgender films:
THURSDAY, OCT. 13
Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale, 7 p.m.
Justin Kelly, dir.
USA, 2016, 92 min.
This ripped-from-the-headlines drama covers the early rise of gay porn headliner Sean Paul Lockhart a.k.a. Brent Corrigan, before his falling out with the producer who made him famous. When Sean decides he'd be better off a free agent, a cash-strapped pair of rival producers aim to cash in by any means possible and an all-out porn turf war ensues.
SFGN: Despite repeated requests, the film’s distributor didn’t provide SFGN with an advance screener. The trailer is hot and the film does boast an all-star cast including James Franco, Christian Slater and Molly Ringwald. Unfortunately, we’re not much help here. Take your chances at the box office.
FRIDAY, OCT. 14
Classic Gateway Theatre, 7 p.m.
Maura Anderson, dir.
USA, 2016, 96 min.
Lauren, dealing with the loss of a close friend, returns home just in time to meet her brother's low-carb, big-city girlfriend, Carrie. As Carrie tries to make sense of rural Oklahoma, Lauren works to seduce her into dropping her aloof superiority and opening her heart to small-town life. That is when something new blossoms.
SFGN: This touching film is the closest thing you’ll get to the typical gay film festival “coming out” movie. Velinda Spencer gives a fantastic performance as Carrie and Laura Spencer (Emily, “Big Bang Theory” lends some star power. Beth Grant (Sissy, “Sordid Lives”) also gets real in this film.
SATURDAY, OCT. 15
“Jewel’s Catch One”
Classic Gateway Theatre, 3 p.m.
C. Fitz, dir.
USA, 2016, 85 min.
Overcoming the odds (black, female, poor and lesbian) Jewel Thais-Williams helped changed laws, save lives and influence communities across Los Angeles by opening Catch One, one of the original safe spaces for LGBT people of color and a place of refuge for those ostracized during the AIDS crisis.
SFGN: We’ve made so much progress over the past couple of years, but it’s important to never forget our shared history. For four decades, this club was an important landmark for L.A.’s LGBT community. One of the strongest documentaries of the festival.
Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale, 5 p.m.
Stephan Kellam and Richard D. Endacott, dir.
USA, 2016, 100 min.
After a weekend visit to a beach cottage with his boyfriend, photographer Carver Mendez comes to fear that he has inadvertently summoned the spirit of Laurence Hunt, a World War II veteran who died mysteriously at that same cottage, 70 years ago. When his boyfriend begins to suffer from increasingly severe headaches, Carver concludes they are the result of the spirit’s malevolent influence. Together, they must confront the spirit.
SFGN: This is an ambitious effort with a solid plot, but, let’s be honest, gay horror flicks are a genre still to be mastered. The production values are strong, along with the acting. Thank goodness the film manages to avoid crossing the line into camp.
Classic Gateway Theatre, 5:15 p.m.
Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares, dir.
USA, 2016, 87 min.
This documentary tells the story of the civil rights struggle of this century – the gay rights movement - through the eyes of four elected women, often left out of gay histories until now. These fierce, committed lesbians took the fight for the causes most personal to them and their communities off the streets and into the halls of government.
SFGN: Another strong documentary - if a bit melodramatic – reminds audiences of more recent history. At times, the film feels like a campaign commercial, so if you are heading to the cinema to escape the barrage of political ads on TV, you’re out of luck.
“Girl Gets Girl”
Classic Gateway Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Sonia Sebastian, dir.
Spain, 2015, English and Spanish (with English subtitles), 88 min.
Inés lives a charmed life chasing the American dream in Miami with her beautiful girlfriend. But Inés' whole world is turned upside-down when she misses a work deadline while chasing other women and her girlfriend leaves. Without a job, money, or girlfriend, Inés decides it´s time to get back home to Madrid.
SFGN: Based on a successful Spanish web series, this comedy offers a light respite from an otherwise heavy festival schedule on Saturday. The animated opening credits and lilting theme set the tone for this festival entry from across the Atlantic.
SUNDAY, OCT. 16
“Uncle Gloria: One Helluva Ride”
Classic Gateway Theatre, 5:15 p.m.
Robin Symon, dir.
USA, 2016, 75 min.
During a nasty divorce, Butch, the 67-year-old Jewish, macho and homophobic owner of a South Florida auto-wrecking company, hides from the law….as a woman, setting off a twisting tale of discovery. Naming herself after her two idols, Gloria Estefan and Gloria Steinem, she decides to remodel herself in much the same way Butch once lovingly restored his old cars.
SFGN: Want to learn about the real transgender experience? Don’t waste your time with reruns of “I am Cait.” This documentary about a colorful local woman has both the heart and truth Caitlyn Jenner has been desperately seeking.
Closing Night Film
Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale, 7:30 p.m.
Tom E. Brown, dir.
USA, 2016, 108 min.
HIV-positive writer and bouncer Dan Schauble struggles to refill his drug prescriptions after a bureaucratic snafu drops him from his health plan. Schauble quietly panics that any disruption to his pharmaceutical regimen can have disastrous consequences as he navigates the labyrinthine world of modern healthcare.
SFGN: Living with HIV/AIDS is no laughing matter, but this wry, smart comedy still manages to poke fun at the inconveniences of a “chronic” condition. “Pushing Dead” is one of the strongest features of the festival and should resonate with South Florida audiences, especially the large poz community.