Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Back in Fort Lauderdale

BearCity 2

More than 40 feature films, shorts and documentaries will be screened at the Classic Gateway theatre when the Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (FLGLFF) returns for its fourth year, Oct. 4 to 7.

“Our mission is to bring the entire LGBT community together through film, so it’s crucial that we present movies that are as diverse in appeal as the community itself,” said Franc Castro, FLGLFF’s executive director. “Our lineup this year represents comedies, dramas and documentaries … films that will entertain as well as stimulate conversation.”

With a history that spans 60 years, the Gateway is the perfect home for the festival, said organizers. Already popular with LGBT and art film audiences, the Gateway brings a vintage flavor to the festival and, for the first time, audiences will be able to purchase cocktails to enjoy during all screenings.

The festival opens on Thursday, Oct. 4 with Tom Fitzgerald’s Cloudburst, starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as an older lesbian couple who must respond when Fricker’s character is committed to a nursing home by a meddling granddaughter. The couple then flees on a road trip to Canada a la “Thelma and Louise” to be married and have their 31-year relationship legally recognized.

In addition to movie screenings, the festival includes several special events, including an exclusive VIP soiree and jazz brunch featuring transgender bassist Jennifer Leitham. The internationally-acclaimed musician, who has performed with Mel Torme and Doc Severinson, is the subject of a documentary by Andrea Meyerson, I Stand Corrected, scheduled to be screened on Oct. 7 at 3 p.m.

The closing night film, Bear City 2: the Proposal, will be followed by a pool party on Sunday, Oct. 7, produced by Bear Nation and hosted by Tony Lima at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

A full schedule is available and individual tickets are already on sale for $7-10, depending on show times, at or by calling 800-927-0939. Discounts are available for festival members. The Gateway Theatre is located on 1820 E Sunrise Blvd in Fort Lauderdale.

Reel Bites

Jobriath A.D.

Friday, Oct. 5, 5 p.m.

It’s not unusual for people to reinvent themselves, especially for young LGBT people coming out of the closet and expressing their true feelings for the first time. Bruce Wayne Campbell, a young gay performer from Philadelphia, reinvented himself many times, first as a charismatic cast member in the Broadway musical, Hair, and later as “Jobriath,” the first openly gay singer to be signed to a major record label. Jobriath was going to be the gay American David Bowie, an unapologetic “True Fairy” of glam rock in the ‘70s, his promoters believed. Unfortunately, critics and audiences rejected his flamboyant style, stopping what could have been a major turning point for gay culture in the mainstream music industry. Director Kieran Turner’s fascinating film traces Jobriath’s journey from childhood with a wealth of archival footage and dozens of interviews with family and friends who knew him best. The talented musician’s star finally dimmed in 1983 when he died of AIDS in the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, practically forgotten. Thanks to Turner, he will be remembered as a pioneer who paved the way for contemporary artists from Freddie Mercury to Adam Lambert.

The Men Next Door

Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m.

What happens when a handsome, 40-year-old gay man realizes the two men he’s casually dating are father and son?  That’s the premise for Rob Williams’ fast-paced comedy, The Men Next Door. Were it not for some totally gratuitous full-frontal nudity, the silly story could probably find a home on broadcast television now that viewers have been introduced to Modern Family and The New Normal. Eric Dean stars as Doug, a Pilates studio owner who must choose between 50-year-old Jacob (a charming Michael Nicklin) and 30-year-old son Colton (an equally hunky Benjamin Lutz). There are plenty of close calls until father and son finally confront Doug and demand he make a choice. Throw in a “Jack” and “Karen” (Mark Cirillo and Heidi Rhodes) and all the sitcom requisites are in place. Williams’ dialogue is witty and carefully avoids the usual clichés, (Hear that, Ryan Murphy?) and the acting is consistent all around.

The Invisible Men

Saturday, Oct. 6, 4:30 p.m.

Life in the Palestinian territories is challenging enough for young Arab men, but for three gay Muslims, each day is an exercise in survival as they must conceal their sexuality and avoid the disdain and physical abuse of “shamed” family members. Yariv Mozer’s disturbing film follows the lives of three men: Louie, whose face was maimed with a knife by his father and who has been hiding in Tel Aviv for eight years; Abdu, who was exposed as gay, accused of espionage and tortured by Palestinian security forces in Ramallah; and Faris, who escaped to the West Bank after his family tried to kill him. Each is forced to exist in the shadows, secretly longing to return to their families and culture, but knowing the only hope for life—and love—lies with asylum in some faraway land. Mozer exposes a vibrant gay life in Tel Aviv’s Arab neighborhood and also proves that the shared experiences of gay men can transcend the Palestinian-Israeli hostilities that dominate the headlines in the Middle East.

Naked as We Came

Saturday, Oct. 6, 9:30 p.m.

Richard LeMay’s film, Naked As We Came, explores love and loss as siblings Elliott (Ryan Vigilant) and Laura (Karmine Alers) are called to the family’s country estate after receiving a mysterious phone call in the middle of the night. They arrive to find their mother, Lilly (S. Lue McWilliams), losing her battle with cancer and a mysterious, handsome stranger living with her. Quickly, Elliott and Ted (Benjamin Weaver) complicate the tenuous situation after a one-night romp between the sheets. And the specter of long-gone dad, a successful businessman and popular politician looms over all. In her waning days, Lilly hopes to inspire her children to leave their messy family history behind and finally pursue their own dreams. While these truths come through loud and clear throughout the beautifully filmed movie, it’s McWilliams who steals the show, caricaturized into a modern day Gloria Swanson, resplendent in her turban and fur stole.

BearCity2: The Proposal

Sunday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m.

There’s something for everyone at the FLGLFF, even the bear crowd! It would be easy to call Douglas Langway’s sequel a bunch of fluff, but in deference to our hairy friends, let’s just say its fuzzy. Described as a “hirsuite Sex and the City,” the film follows a group of friends to Provincetown for a gay wedding, conveniently coinciding with Bear Week. Roger (Gerald McCullouch) and his cub Tyler (Joe Conti) find themselves questioning love and commitment when flung into the tantalizing mix of muscle bears and ex-boyfriends. Meanwhile, their friends find their own relationships challenged with issues of jealousy and a silly subplot involving the making of a documentary about the party. Kathy Najimy makes a heartwarming appearance as the mother of one of the pals and Richard Riehle, as the father of the groom, learns a whole new meaning to the word, “Daddy!” Also, keep your eyes peeled for some well-timed walk-ons by Lt. Dan Choi, celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz and Varla Jean Merman.

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