The Fifth Annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival in Sarasota at the Sarasota/Manatee University of South Florida campus is quickly approaching. From Friday September 18 through Sunday September 20, the event is being held at the Burns Court Cinema. The festival, which is a Broken Rules/Harvey Milk Festival Burns Court Cinemaco-production (with all proceeds going to the HMF) is an exemplary event that showcases LGBTQ art through cinema. There are six feature films and this year, the centerpiece film will be a free outdoor presentation on the Sarasota/Manatee campus in the courtyard with donation suggested.

Last year’s IFF went surprisingly well according to the IFF brainchild Magida Diori, who says there was steady attendance throughout the entire festival (rare, according to those who are familiar with the film-festival circuit). “Typically you have one or two films that outdo everything else,” Diori said. “And last year it was very even and pretty remarkable.”

Which brings us to this year: Does Diori have a favorite of all the films she is showing?

At first she is playfully coy (“I know you asked me last year which one of them was my favorite.I love all of them,” she says).

However, Diori eventually admits that Tangerine touched her on a personal level. “I am very happy to have Tangerine,” Diori says. “It’s a comedy and was shot completely with an iPhone with a tiny budget. You know how some films have such a spirit that they take you with them? The plot involves a transgender sex worker who is after her pimp because he is cheating on her and they go across Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. The energy, the rhythm, the lighting – it is just out there. It says, ‘I am taking you with me, and you’re going to love it – and you do.’”Tangerine also has the benefit of two leading black transgender characters, a minority which is often ignored in gay Hollywood.

“It isn’t didactic,” Diori continues. “It makes you smile. I look at the strength of these people and can only say ‘Thank you for doing this.’”

The films discuss deeper subjects ingrained in the LGBTQ world.

“There is also great discussion of the gray scale of sexuality and fluidity. Men with children who decide they’re into men and his [boyfriend] wants him to identify as gay and he can’t do that,” Diori says.

Diori is also keen to point out that the IFF isn’t completely about white-washing the LGBTQ community; Drown actually features a gay villain, which you could argue is a step forward for equal rights; if we are going to be wholly represented, it is important we recognize both the good and the bad.

“I want to point out the [Drown] character isn’t evil for evil’s sake. He is evil because he depressed and that evil rises from his homophobia and his repressed emotions. I thought I might not get it, but then I thought, ‘You know what? I have to bring things that are going to shock people.’ Drown is an extremely powerful film, but I would not recommend for sensitive souls.”

For the festival in the broader strokes, Diori feels she ran the gamut. “I went experimental (Tangerine, Drown), as well as the documentary Out to Win[a documentary about gay athletes that was well received at this spring’s South By South Festival]. People believe just because gay marriage is legal that coming out is not a difficult process. It is when you can lose your family or lose your job.”

Then, for a light-hearted romp, there is Fourth Man Out. “It’s a comedy about a group of men, and one of them isn’t out. He comes out, and the guys have a hard time, but eventually they learn to deal. It is a very sweet film.”

The Schedule is as follows:

Friday, September 18, 2015
8:15 p.m.: Watermark Media presents TANGERINE (USA, 88 min.)

Saturday, September 19, 2015
3:30 p.m.: LIZ IN SEPTEMBER (Venezuela, in Spanish with English subtitles, 100 min.)
5:45 p.m.: DROWN (Australia, 96 min.)
8:15 p.m.: USF Sarasota/Manatee and Stew Carrier from the Box Office Bulls present FOURTH MAN OUT (USA, 86 min.) in the courtyard.

Sunday, September 20, 2015
5:00 p.m.: IN THE GRAYSCALE (Chile, in Spanish with English subtitles, 101 min.)
7:45 p.m.: OUT TO WIN (USA, 99 min.)

More Info:
Opening Night Party – $3 beer and light bites
M.A.D.E. 1990 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236
Friday, September 18, 10 p.m.

Centerpiece Food Thing
Ain’t No Thang Food Truck will be serving tasty bites. A percentage of their proceeds will go to the Harvey Milk Festival.
Tickets: $8.50-$10
www.fabulousiff.com

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