Fabulous Independent Film Festival returns for ninth outing

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: (L-R) Stills from “Family in Transition,” “Good Kisser” and “Sell By.” All photos courtesy Fabulous IFF.

The Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) will present Sarasota’s ninth annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival (IFF) Sept. 27-29. The celebration will follow a special screening Sept. 25 and a kickoff party Sept. 26.

The Fabulous IFF exists to bring the best in LGBTQ cinema to Sarasota. It was previously gifted to the HMF by founder Magida Diouri, who continues to oversee its annual programming. The move resulted in attendance and support more than doubling, HMF President Shannon Fortner says.

After 2018’s opening night sold out, she saw a demand for more opportunities to involve the community. That led to an exciting partnership with The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. The organization will host a special screening of “Family in Transition” ahead of the festival Sept. 25.

The collaboration is “an exciting move for our organization,” Fortner explains. “They have supported us over the years and we look forward to bringing the community together to explore cinema, which has had such an impact in society offering a perspective and view through others eyes.”

The Fabulous IFF will welcome Dr. Cameron Awkward-Rich for a poetry reading and Q&A Sept. 26 at the Mildred Sanier Pavilion. Awkward-Rich is the author of two collections of poetry: “Sympathetic Little Monster” and “Dispatch.”

The interactive gathering will also provide a platform for members in the community to learn more about the festival, including board opportunities and volunteer needs.

The festival’s opening night will be held Sept. 27 and will feature one film, three will screen on Sept. 28 and two will follow Sept. 29. The Fabulous IFF’s ninth annual outing will once again return to Burns Court Cinema in Sarasota for its three-day stretch.

Moving forward, Fortner expects that the Fabulous IFF’s programming will include quarterly events, panels and showcases. Utilizing the HMF’s #WESUPPORT campaign, she hopes to inspire, educate and entertain Sarasota’s expanding LGBTQ community in more ways than ever.

“We’re going to focus on the fact that we are the only LGBTQ+ film festival in Sarasota and expand with events and more partnerships,” she says. “That will allow us to screen films throughout the year, do more Q&A’s and focus on accepting submissions for feature films and shorts.”

The Ninth Annual Fabulous IFF lineup can be found below.

“Family in Transition” (2018)
Sept. 25, 7 p.m. |
The Beatrice Friedman Theater | 70 Min.

The story of a family in Nahariya, a small traditional town in Israel, whose lives change completely after their father finally decides to tell his family that he is a transgender woman. Their mother chooses to stay with her spouse through the whole process, but just as it seems that life is back to normal, she takes a sharp turn and shakes everything up again.

Opening Night Film: “Gay Chorus Deep South” (2019)
Sept. 27, 7 p.m. | Burns Court Cinema | 100 Min.

In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Gay Chorus Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love and acceptance, to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers traveled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma, performing in churches, community centers and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference.

“Good Kisser” (2019)
Sept. 28, 2 p.m. | Burns Court Cinema | 80 Min.

Jenna agrees to a sexy weekend fling with materialistic girlfriend Kate and the worldly Mia. But as the night unfolds, Jenna realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew, and the love triangle begins to crack. Careful what you wish for.

“Sell By” (2019)
Sept. 28, 4:30 p.m. | Burns Court Cinema | 94 Min.

Does every relationship have an expiration date? Adam and Marklin are about to find out. Their 5-year relationship has gone from a passionate flame to a medium burn, forcing them to reconcile with each other’s shortcomings, all while watching their support network crumble around them.

“From Zero to I Love You” (2019)
Sept. 28, 7 p.m. | Burns Court Cinema | 106 Min.

Pete Logsdon is a guy who happens to have a history of getting involved with married men. His father and his soon-to-be step mom are on him to find someone who’s actually available and to settle down. Instead, he finds a man named Jack who is fifteen years into a perfect marriage.

“Mom + Mom” (2019)
Sept. 29, 4:30 p.m. | Burns Court Cinema | 81 Min.

Two women who love each other and desire to have a child together. Karole and Ali still don’t know that the enthusiasm of this first attempt will be followed by many vicissitudes, but when the desire becomes stronger than the pain and fatigue, miracles can happen.

Closing Film: “Changing The Game” (2019)
Sept. 29, 7 p.m. | Burns Court Cinema | 95 Mins

This dynamic documentary takes us into the lives of three high school athletes—all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and unique paths as transgender teens. Their stories span across the U.S.—from Sarah, a skier and teen policymaker in New Hampshire, to Andraya, a track star in Connecticut openly transitioning into her authentic self. The film centers on Mack Beggs, who made headlines when he became the Texas State Champion in wrestling and was heralded as a hero by some while receiving hate and threats from others.

The ninth annual Fabulous IFF will be held Sept. 27-29 at Burns Court Cinema in Sarasota, located at 506 Burns Ct. The Sept. 25 screening of “Family in Transition” will be held at The Beatrice Friedman Theater on the Larry Greenspon Family Campus for Jewish Life, located at 582 McIntosh Rd. The Sept. 26 poetry reading will be held at the Mildred Sanier Pavilion at the New College of Florida, located at 5313 Bay Shore Rd. For more information about this year’s festival, click here.

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