Four full-length feature films, three shorts, and one party featuring a performance from one of Sarasota’s most popular indie bands may seem like quite a bit of entertainment to pack into one day – but it’s exactly what the Fabulous Independent Film Festival intends to pull off on Saturday.
The one-day film festival is designed to be an all-inclusive celebration of diversity showcasing LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) films.
The four features and three shorts in the festival hail from around the world – as close as Sarasota’s own backyard and as far across the globe as Australia.
Anthony Paull, a director that Sarasota has the fortune to claim as its own, has a short film in the festival called “Best Text,” a music video featuring MeteorEYES, the wildly danceable indie band that also calls Sarasota home.
“Baby Cake,” a six-minute-long silent short comedy about a gay couple and a lesbian couple who come together to “make a baby the old fashioned way” by Australian director, Pearl Tan, will also be featured in the in the film festival.
Each short is partnered with a full-length feature film. Paull’s “Best Text” music video will be paired with “eCupid,” a quirky comedy about finding “love on the download” while “Baby Cake” will serve as an opener for “Leading Ladies,” a lighthearted film about a mousy waitress who seizes an opportunity to take the ballroom dancing world by storm with a beautiful girl by her side.
Other feature films in the festival include “Leave it On the Floor,” a gay African-American musical that explores LA ball culture and “Mangus,” a John Waters inspired film in which wheelchair-bound protagonist, Mangus Spedgwick, fights to fulfill his dream of playing the lead role in his high school’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Whether they plan to make an entire day of it or only catch one or two films, attendees at the Fabulous Independent Film Festival can rest assured that each of the flicks selected for the festival carries a lighthearted and entertaining theme – nothing depressing or too heavy to put a damper on the afternoon.
The theme is intentional. Festival organizer, Magida Diouri, had one very simple goal for the festival: To showcase fun films that would appeal to everyone.
“In this day and age, it seems like a lot of people are hurting. I would say that life is difficult for the majority of people on this planet in one way or another. What we all need is to see things that make us smile,” Diouri said.
“The point of the festival is to appeal to everyone – gay, straight, whomever. People will be more willing to come out and see something lighter, I think. I want to appeal to everyone and include as many people as possible,” she added.
Diouri, formerly the artistic director for the Sarasota Film Society, has years of experience organizing film festivals under her belt – and it’s a good thing, too.
Diouri first learned in June that the Sarasota Film Society would not be hosting its annual LGBT film festival at this year. She decided that she must take matters into her own hands and partnered up with Sarasota Pride. With Sarasota Pride’s help Diouri’s company, Broken Rules Productions, organized the first annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival in under three months.
Rather than holding the festival at Burns Court, where past LGBT film festivals hosted by the Sarasota Film Society have been held, the Fabulous Independent Film Festival will take place in the historic Gompertz Theatre at 1247 1st St. The theatre, which was built in 1925, has not screened a movie in more than half a century, making Saturday’s film festival into a landmark event.
“It’s been a very exciting trip so far. I have to say that if it weren’t for our sponsors, this event would not have been possible,” Diouri said, citing Planned Parenthood and Embracing Our Differences as two notable sponsors, the full list of which can be viewed on the Fabulous Independent Film Festival’s website. Proceeds from the Fabulous Independent Film Festival will be put toward supporting Sarasota Pride.
For event organizers and participants such as Diouri and Paull, the upcoming film festival is much more than an LGBT event. Notably, the term “LGBT” does not even show up in the event title.
“This film festival is about celebrating our community and diversity,” said Diouri, who considers herself an ally to the gay community.
“To me, it’s normal. It’s essential for people to recognize that we are all humans. The aim of the Fabulous Independent Film Festival is to simply celebrate being human and have a good time.”
Paull shared a similar sentiment.
“In my opinion, there really shouldn’t be a need for separate LGBT film festivals,” he said. “However, as of right now, for gay filmmakers and stories to be heard, we do need these festivals. I look forward to a time when that won’t be necessary.”
“With any civil rights movement, what we need are alliances throughout the community. It’s important for families to expose their children to different things so that they can be seen as normal rather than something to be feared. What’s great about the films being featured is that they showcase four different segments of the gay community and expose different viewpoints that people may not necessarily be aware of,” he added.
Paull feels that Sarasota is the perfect location for the Fabulous Independent Film Festival due to the diversity of the community and large LGBT youth culture.
“When I was in high school, I didn’t have a lot of gay role models,” he said. “I won’t go as far as to say that I consider myself a role model, but I think that it’s important for the youth to see that you absolutely can become an adult and lead a normal, successful life like anyone else.”
The Fabulous Independent Film Festival kicks off on Saturday at 2pm. Tickets for each screening are $8 and can be purchased online until 6pm on Friday. Cash tickets will also be available at the door.
A celebratory after party will take place at starting at 10:15pm on Saturday. MeteorEYES will be playing at the event, which will also serve as a homecoming show following a successful tour in which they rocked up and down the east coast, through several cities in North Carolina and New York; Philadelphia, PA; Savannah, GA, and finally back to Sarasota.
For more information, please visit the Fabulous Independent Film Festival’s official website.