The 22nd Outshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival
Reviews by: Scott Holland
The 22nd edition of the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival, a bi-annual film festival whose mission is to unite the community through social events and LGBTQ+ media that inspire, entertain, and educate, is going virtual! For the first time in the organization’s history, 80 new contemplative, comedic and creative films from 20 countries, (many never-seen-before and not available on any streaming platform) with 44 screenings will be made available to viewers throughout the state of Florida from August 20 – 30. The festival will also host livestreamed special events with cocktail happy hours, talent and Q & A sessions as a way to virtually tie the community together.
“In these challenging times, the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival has adapted to the changing needs of the film and viewing community and is pleased to move forward with an outstanding roster of poignant new features viewable virtually anywhere in the state,” said Victor Gimenez, executive director of OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival. “It’s in this spirit of unity and equality, the tenets upon which the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival was founded, that we are taking a giant leap forward to offer these award-winning films with culturally diverse narratives and deeply moving subjects to an even wider audience.”
Here is a list of some of the films showing during the first week of Outshine 2020 as well as a review of the “Stage Mother” and “House of Cardin”. For full list visit Outshinefilm.com
Thursday, August 20 – Opening Night Drive Out
Stage Mother – Director: Thom Fitzgerald; Runtime: 94 minutes; USA, 2020; Dramedy
In keeping with social distancing guidelines and community safety, this year’s festival kicks off at 7 p.m. with a preview of Stage Mother, at the Drive-In Theater at Dezerland Park (14401 NE 19th Avenue, North Miami, FL 33181).
When I read the notes of the movie and saw some of the main characters were Drag Queens named Cherry Poppins, Joan of Arkansas and Tequila Mockingbird, I naturally thought they would take over the movie. However, that’s not the case, as Jacki Weaver (Oscar-nominated: Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom), who plays Maybelline Metcalf, a small-town Texan Housewife/church choir director who goes to her sons (Rickey…also a drag queen) funeral in San Francisco against her husbands will. Stage Mother also stars Adrian Grenier (Entourage, The Devil Wears Prada) and Emmy-nominated Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Elementary, Ally McBeal).
We find out in flashbacks and pics that Maybelline and Rickey had a very close relationship growing up, as Rickey was never masculine enough for his bigoted father. Once Rickey grew up and came out his father basically forced Maybelline to cut contact with him. Maybelline always knew this was wrong and when she gets the call, about a decade later, that her son is dead, you can feel the anguish and regret in her scream.
After the funeral, Maybelline goes to Rickey’s apartment and runs into his partner (business and life) Nathan who has a lot of animosity for the way Rickey was treated by his family. After a run in with Rickey’s BFF Sienna who plays interference to get Rickey and Maybelline to talk, and that’s when Maybelline learns that Rickey owned the bar. Because Rickey refused to get married to Nathan until his mom came back into his life, Nathan is not his legal partner and the bar (which fell on hard times over the last few years) goes to his mom and dad. In an attempt to save her recently deceased son’s drag club from bankruptcy, Maybelline finds new meaning for her life and embraces the club’s flamboyant performers, becoming a mother figure to them.
Stage Mother not only makes you cry at times, and laugh at times, it also proved that perennial supporting actress Jacki Weaver has the chops to lead a movie and do it well! This is a feel-good movie, and during the times we are living in now, who doesn’t need a feel-good movie! Trust me it will “Totally Eclipse your Heart.”
Winner – Best of the Fest Audience Vote – Palm Springs International Film Festival
Winner – Next Wave Award – Provincetown International Film Festival
Friday, August 21
Breaking Fast – Director: Mike Mosallam’ Runtime: 90 minutes; USA, 2020; Romantic Comedy
Mo (past OUTshine Award recipient Haaz Sleiman), a practicing Muslim living in West Hollywood, is learning to navigate life post-heartbreak. Enter hunky, all-American Kal, who surprises Mo by offering to break fast with him during the holy month of Ramadan. As they learn more about each other, they fall in love over what they have in common and what they don’t. Breaking Fast is the first of its kind film to feature a practicing Muslim character who is gay and not dealing with those two things in conflict, but rather in harmony. The film is proof that gay, romantic comedies do exist.
Dry Wind (Vento Seco) – Director: Daniel Nolasco; Runtime: 110 minutes; Brazil, 2020; In Portuguese with English subtitles; Drama, Suspense
Sandro works in the Human Resources Department at a mining company. When the working day ends, he has casual sex with his coworker Ricardo in the forest that surrounds the company. When he’s not working, he occasionally swims at the public pool where he sees Maicon from afar, but their eyes never meet. When Maicon starts to work at the same company, Sandro’s desires turn into obsession and everything gets worse when he finds out that Ricardo and Maicon have an affair. Unapologetically sexually explicit and set predominantly in the bear and leather community, Dry Wind does not dilute the story simply for titillation.
A Stormy Night (Una noche de tormenta en Nueva York) – Director: David Moragas; Runtime: 75 minutes; Spain, 2020; In English
When a heavy storm threatens the city of New York, two complete strangers – Marcos, a cynical documentary filmmaker from Spain (making a film he defines as a doc on gay sex and dicks) and Alan, an idealist and overworked app programmer (working on a GPS driven hook-up app) – find themselves sharing shelter and questioning each other’s understanding of life, happiness and love. What seems open and honest sharing masks the fact that each holds onto secrets they are not willing to expose. While they celebrate their commonalities and debate their differences, the biggest challenge of the evening might be having to say goodbye in the morning.
Saturday, August 22
Letters to Eloisa – FREE COMMUNITY SCREENING; Director: Adriana Bosch; Runtime: 62 minutes; USA, 2020; In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Featuring the intimate correspondence of a brother to his sister living in exile, Letters to Eloisa tells the story of Cuban literary genius and poet Jose Lezama Lima. Much of his writing contained homoerotic content, placing him on a direct collision course with the Cuban revolutionary government at odds with his writings and his homosexuality. Part biography and part cultural history, Letters to Eloisa traces Lezama’s rise as a literary figure in Cuba and his tragic end, alone and silenced in his Havana home as well as the quiet impact he had on the GLBT movement in the country.
House of Cardin – Directors: P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes; Runtime: 95 minutes;
For those of you who know me, you know that I am not a fashionista, but more of a simple guy when to comes to dressing. However, over the years I have loved the fashion competitions including the iconic Project Runway, Fashion Star, Next in Fashion, and the new Making the Cut (which by the way, I love and hope gets picked up for season 2). One of the reasons I love Making The Cut (other than the fact that we got Heidi and Tim back) is that they are looking to build a fashion brand, not just a designer. Knowing this you can you can than imagine how much I enjoyed the documentary “House of Cardin,” which tell the story of how Pierre Cardin built his fashion house and his empire.
Millions know the iconic logo and ubiquitous signature, but few know the man behind the larger-than-life label. Ultimately, the film seeks to answer the question: Who is Pierre Cardin? What is the story behind this legendary icon? House of Cardin is a rare peek into the mind of a genius, an authorized feature documentary chronicling the life and design of Cardin. A true original, Mr. Cardin has granted the directors exclusive access to his archives and his empire and unprecedented interviews at the sunset of a glorious career.
When a movie features incredible commentary from Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone, Alice Cooper, Dionne Warwick, Jean-Paul Gautier and many more, you can imagine what kind of force of nature Pierre is. He is currently 98 years old and still working.
Pierre and his fashion empire were the first or one of the first to:
1) Branch out from Haute Couture into ready to wear fashion
2) Incorporate fashion accessories
3) Focus on Geometric shapes and experimental silhouettes
4) Bring models of color to the European catwalk
5) Made his chief muse a Japanese Model: Hiroko Matsumoto
6) Called a genius
7) Build an empire that includes fashion and non-fashion components
Clearly Pierre was a visionary from the very beginning of his career and as you can see from this documentary, he remains a visionary.
This is a film I highly recommend for anyone who is a fashionista, likes fashion, or just wants to see a force of nature/genius at work over the years.
Winner – Best Fashion Feature Film and Best Director of a Fashion Feature Film – Cinemoi CineFashion Film Awards
Official Selection – Venice Film Festival
Official Selection – Chicago International Film Festival
Douze Points – Director: Danny Sirkin; Runtime: 90 minutes; Israel, 2019; In French, Hebrew and English with English subtitles; Comedy, Satire, Thriller
Douze Points is a comedy-thriller-satire created by mixing ISIS operatives, tough Mossad agents and a unique relationship between two young Muslim guys in the most rainbow-colored song contest imaginable. Rasoul and Tarik were best friends growing up in Paris’ Muslim quarter. When Tarik comes out of the closet at 15, Rasoul turns his back on his friend, and Tarik is ostracized from the community. Now “TJ” is an out and proud gay singer on his way to represent France in Eurovision – Europe’s biggest song contest. But he becomes a target as ISIS plants an operative – Rasoul acting as his boyfriend – into the French delegation to interrupt the finals.
Official Selection – Amsterdam LGBTQ International Film Festival
Official Selection – San Diego Jewish Film Festival
Official Selection – Rome Israeli Film Festival
Tu Me Manques – Director: Rodrigo Bellott; Runtime: 105 minutes; Bolivia, 2019; In Spanish with English subtitles; Drama, Suspense
In Bolivia, Jorge meets his son’s ex-boyfriend Sebastian over an accidental skype chat during which Jorge reveals that his son Gabriel has committed suicide. This encounter – full of guilt, regret, and anger – triggers an unexpected turn as Jorge decides to go to New York to find out what happened to Gabriel, meet Sebastian and their friends, and find answers to the questions he desperately seeks. Jorge arrives full of prejudice and fear but encounters a community of people full of hope and strength despite their history of personal and collective oppression. Rossy de Palma leads an all-star cast in this touching and memorable film.
Winner – Grand Jury Award, Best Screenwriting – OUTFEST
Winner – Best of the Fest Audience Award – Palm Springs International Film Festival
My Father Marianne (Min Pappa Marianne) – Director: Mårten Klingberg; Runtime: 110 minutes; Sweden, 2020; In Swedish with English subtitles
After breaking up with her boyfriend, 28-year-old Hanna returns to her hometown for a temporary position at the local news station. Her world is soon turned even more upside down when her beloved father, the local priest with the big beard, reveals that his greatest desire is to be Marianne. From this point on there is no going back for father Marianne, who insists on being her true self. It’s a tumultuous journey for Hanna, who didn’t know herself or her father as well as she thought she did. My Father Marianne is a thoughtful dramedy and a beautiful ode to life and being true to yourself.
Sunday, August 23
It’s Raining Men…Hallelujah! – Men’s Shorts Package-1 at 5pm; Total Runtime: 116 minutes;
There will be a Q&A with all the filmmakers after the screening.
Shorts Included are: After That Party; The Fall; Beauty Boys; Don’t Frighten the Horses; The Cypher; The Graffiti (La Graffiti); The Act and Snake
Family Members (Los miembros de la familia) – Director: Mateo Bendesky; Runtime: 85 minutes; Argentina, 2019; In Spanish with English subtitles
In an off-season seaside resort town that’s seen better days, siblings Gilda and Lucas are trying to fulfill their mother’s last cryptic wish: to throw her ashes into the ocean. But, in director Mateo Bendesky’s first feature, there are greater, more inexplicable mysteries to be solved, though not really voiced, between the siblings and with the rest of the world. Gilda looks for answers in chakra stones and tarot cards, and Lucas tries to understand the attention he receives from an older bodybuilder on the beach. Closely observed, whimsical, comic, and sweet, Family Members marks the emergence of a filmmaker whose sensibility is unique, unusual, and very human.
Monday, August 24
LUZ – Director: Jon Garcia; Runtime: 118 minutes; USA, 2020
Ruben and Carlos become cellmates in a minimum-security prison. While Ruben struggles to learn the ropes of daily life and where he falls in the complex hierarchical prison system, Carlos becomes a mentor and then eventually a lover. The two men develop feelings for one another they can’t easily express. As time moves on and one of them is released before the other, there are questions looming as to whether what they had was real or simply out of the need for human connection. What starts as a prison drama becomes a sensitive, beautifully rendered story of two men seeking redemption in each other’s arms.
Tuesday, August 25
Transformistas – Director: Chad Hahne; Runtime: 80 minutes; Cuba/USA, 2020; In Spanish with English subtitles
Transformistas tells the story of how against all odds a group of drag queens carved out a space for the LBGTQ community in Cuba at a time when performing in drag was illegal and homosexuality was denounced as a product of capitalism. Behind the make-up and beneath the wigs and fabulous outfits, we meet the Cubans who have sacrificed everything for their art, defying the status quo and rewriting LGBT history in the process. With wit, humor and lots of sass, Transformistas is a story of sacrifice, resilience and commitment to the art form of drag.
Wednesday, August 26 – Centerpiece film
The Goddess of Fortune (La de Fortuna) – Director: Ferzan Ozpetek; Runtime: 114 minutes
Italy, 2019; In Italian with English subtitles
Alessandro and Arturo have been together for over 15 years and, despite the feelings they still have for each other, their relationship is now in crisis. When Alessandro’s best friend asks them to take care of her two kids for a few days, something changes in their daily routine, and they will be driven to a crazy and unexpected turn in their life. Endearing, tender and funny, festival favorite director Ferzan Ozpetek’s (Loose Cannons, Steam: The Turkish Bath) The Goddess of Fortune is about love, family and how together they create a state of pleasant madness.
Tickets for the 22nd edition of the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Virtual Film Festival are on sale, now, at Outshinefilm.com/buy-tickets. Prices for individual films are $12 each and value packages range from $60 to $350.