Miami native Victor Gimenez leads one of South Florida’s preeminent gay film festivals, the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival, in a hybrid film festival this month.
What’s your claim-to-fame?
I’m the executive director of the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival. That’s my claim-to-fame within the LGBTQ+ community. That, and posts of my kids on Facebook (laughs).
Where did you grow up?
I’m a born-and-bred Miamian.
What’s something special about Miami that isn’t common knowledge?
Miami has a lot of Cubans—just kidding. The History Miami tours are some of the greatest experiences in the city. It has biking, boating and walking.
Did you ever live anywhere else other than Miami?
No. But maybe I’ll retire to Florence one day.
What part of South Florida do you live in now?
I live in North Beach, which is the not-so-glamorous but oh-so-practical sibling of South Beach.
What do you like most about living here?
The diversity of people and backgrounds. You really do get all types from everywhere. In the United Stated, I only think New York is more diverse.
Where do you hang out in South Florida?
In my house.
What’s your favorite restaurant in South Florida?
Fuchai in Wynwood. But I don’t go to it enough.
What South Florida venue do you miss that’s gone?
This is dating me, but Laundry Bar.
If you had to live somewhere else other than here, where would you live?
Which one of your old jobs least prepared you for what you do now?
Civil engineering, because I was a small part of a team and handled no project management.
What was your career before your involvement with OUTshine?
I studied civil engineering, but most of my pre-festival career was in construction management and general contracting. The dealing with many moving parts and vendors was great experience for the festival.
How long have you been the executive director of OUTshine?
I’ve been the executive director for six years, but I’ve been involved with the festival for ten years between the screening committee and the board.
What’s been the biggest challenge of the role?
Fundraising and sponsorship has always been the biggest challenge. Without the money, the rest can’t happen. Last year and this year have been special because of COVID and its unique challenges, but so far we’ve handled them well.
OUTshine Miami was virtual this year. Given that a movie-going experience is communal, how did the virtual festival go?
We’ve had three virtual festivals so far. Some were great, and some were not so great. The past Miami festival was okay, but it wasn’t as good as our first virtual Miami festival last year. We’re looking forward to the upcoming hybrid festival, where most of the films are available virtually and in-person. We’ve discovered with the last few in-person/virtual screenings that there’s space for both, and both options have been doing very well.
Although OUTshine’s new SHINE student program is still in its impetus, what’s been the most moving experience with it so far?
The excitement from those in the education department that we’ve met with, plus our donors. The reality for now, though, is that until things get back to normal at schools, we’re in a holding pattern.
With all your years with the festival, what screening stands out the most to you?
There have been so many. The first one that pops in my head is Game Face from 2015, which was a documentary about LGBTQ+ athletes. We had the director and some of the subjects in town for the world premiere. One of the athletes was very emotionally affected by the screening of the film—as well as the Q&A—and it was a tough experience for him, but in a good way. At that time he was trying to find himself and was very vulnerable.
What film are you most excited for this year?
There are so many. I’ll recommend some of our non-gala spots, so these great films get some attention: Not Knowing, The Swimmer, and Gemmel and Tim.
What does the future hold for OUTshine?
Many great things. We’re excited about the hybrid model that we’re attempting, and we believe that it’s the way of the future. The hybrid model also allows us to promote to the entire state, and not just to South Florida.
What celebrity that you’ve met, either at the festival or on a production set, did you act like a “fan” around?
Gloria and Emilio Estefan. We honored them with our Ally Award in 2017. They’re Miami royalty and great guests of the festival.
His work is mostly with American retailers, but they do handle production work for foreign films. One of the funniest productions that they did was for an Italian film called Christmas in Miami, which was one of the top five films in Italy that year.
What’s your favorite personal film?
When I’m limited to name only one film, my answer is E.T. I was nine when I saw it on the big screen, and it just had a great emotional effect on me that no other film has had since.
And finally, what did you do to keep yourself busy during the quarantine?
It was very easy with two little kids at the house, and one of them in school. But for fun we did a lot of outdoor activities and kayaking in the Bay.