2011 Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival has a ‘made in Miami’ feel

 

BY STEVE ROTHAUS | srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Organizers of the annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival say the success of this year’s festival — No. 13 — depends on much more than luck.

New festival board chairwoman Lily Saborit says many of this year’s 60 or so movies have a “Made in Miami” feel and were carefully chosen to reflect South Florida’s vast diversity.

“We have great foreign films, great lesbian films, gay films, young films not just for gay youth but for youth in general,” Saborit says. “We’re sharing stories about multiple cultures, multiple groups, and we’re keeping the film festival moving.”

Saborit says she and her life partner, Angela Nowland, have a personal stake in the festival’s success: Their daughters, Samantha, 20, and Rebecca, 17, have recently come out as lesbians.

“The festival is important to me, because it’s a platform to utilize film and stories to entertain, educate and inspire,” Saborit says. “The reason I got involved … is to make an impact, to help the next generation, kids like my daughters.”

Says Saborit: “We have some exciting world premieres, Florida premieres. We have great filmmakers coming into town who are going to be doing Q&As.”

Among the films to be shown at the festival, which runs through May 1 at various theaters throughout Miami-Dade County: Kick Off, a British import set at an afternoon soccer match; Going Down in La-La Land, about an actor in Los Angeles and written by former South Florida journalist Andy Zeffer; Daphne, a memoir based on the love life of author Daphne du Maurier and Fit, a drama about a British dance teacher and his students.

Presented by Miami-Dade County and HBO, this year’s festival features a new highlight: “Made in Miami” night on Tuesdayin a drive-in setting at the new seventh-floor garage at 1111 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Several world premieres will debut that night: Earwig directed by Max Emerson and Vincent J. Cardinal, former chairman of the theater-arts department at the University of Miami; Dipspit about a pair of straight male models living with a gay student on Ocean Drive directed by Emerson and Justin James; and Mariquita, a fictionalized story about a gay Coral Gables boy who comes out to his family at an aunt’s birthday party.

“I get emotional,” Saborit, 45, says speaking about Mariquita. “This story is from the perspective of a 10-year-old that had the courage to come out to his family in a very public way. A Hispanic family no less — how the family reacts to his openness in knowing that he’s gay at such an early age.

“It’s a powerful story that is relevant to today and continues to happen,” says Saborit, who lives with her family in Miami Springs. “It’s relevant here because there’s such a huge population of Hispanics that have to deal with kids’ coming out, and it’s so reflective of the culture. I’ve heard stories of kids who came out to their parents and were beaten with broomsticks. Maybe if we share that it’s not such a culture stigma, we can change some minds and open some hearts.”

The 14-minute Mariquita is produced and directed by South Florida married filmmakers Grela Orihuela and Bill Bilowit, who developed the concept and story base upon a boy he went to elementary school with in New York City during the 1960s.

If you go

The 2011 Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival runs through May 1 at the Regal Cinemas, 1100 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., and the Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave. Check the festival’s website, www.mglff.com to buy tickets and for up-to-date details including pricing.

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