The 2016 Sarasota Film Festival featured some of the strongest LGBT films released. Thanks to a generous grant from Our Sarasota Fund, SFF was able to increase its LGBT programming and host events during the festival.
The good news is, SFF will be doing a lot more of the same in 2017.
The films below are sterling examples of how far LGBT cinema has come, with mainstream releases and mass appeal. They also are excellent! Here are the top films:
Winner of the Teddy Award at this year’s Berline Festival KIKI brings back to the forefront the fierce and fabulous world of vogue battles 25 years after PARIS IS BURNING took the world by storm. First-time director Sara Jordeno takes us on an enthralling journey behind the scenes and asks penetrating questions about the LGBTQ culture making KIKI an intriguing character study. The contrast between glamor and ecstasy of the voguing contests and the often challenging circumstances of their everyday life not only makes for good cinema, it makes for cogent social commentary. And once the beat stars and the dancers start voguing, just try to stay in your seat!
This film is still on a worldwide festival circuit. Keep your eyes peeled for a theatrical release.
They say the clothes make the man, right? But what if your body isn’t shaped like other men’s? What if you’re transgender? Don’t you deserve to have suits made that ift you, too? The man behind Bindle & Keep, Daniel Friedman provides just those suits for just that community. Originally, he had planned to aim his business model at high-flying Wall Street executives, but a transgender assistant convinced him that he could do well by doing good for an under-served community, and so he has. Produced by Lena Dunham (whose sibling is highlighted in the film), SUITED is a fascinating profile of the artisans tailored to service those who otherwise wouldn’t fit and a look into the hopes, dreams and fears of their clients.
Currently streaming on HBO Now.
#3. First Girl I Loved
Karem Sanga’s debut feature about a high school girl’s painful coming out is so authentic, so universal, that somehow you’ll feel it’s your story, too. It taps into the feeling we all have at some point in middle or high school of not fitting in, of confused identity-building, of feeling different and not even knowing how to articulate it. One of the most powerful elements is that there really are no bad guys in this film, just well-meaning people getting in their own way. And you read it here first — Dylan Gelula is going to be a big, big star. Winner of the Audience Award, NEXT section, Sundance Film Festival 2016.
Available for rent on Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video and Vudu
New Zealand journalist David Farrier specializes in exploring the bizarre stories of fringe internet communities. In TICKLED, Farrier finds online ads seeking contestants for a Tickling Endurance Competition. Upon further investigation, he’s met with fierce opposition, including blistering attacks on his own homosexuality. Intrigued and wondering just what is hiding beneath the initial story, Farrier goes further and further down an increasingly strange rabbit hole that leads to places he could never have expected. It’s hard to believe, but the Tickling Endurance Competition may be the least bizarre part of the whole film.
Available for rent on Amazon Video, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, iTunes and Vudu.
And the top LGBT film for 2016 …
#1. Other People
You can’t go home again, we all know, but most of us try at one point or another. Even so, David (Jesse Plemons) is having a more difficult time than most in the dramatic comedy OTHER PEOPLE. David is a gay sitcom comedy writer in New York who journeys back to his childhood home in Sacremento to spend time with his acerbic mother, Joanne (Molly Shannon) who’s dying of cancer. The sharp-tongued, no-holds-barred Joanne refuses to go gently, turning David’s visit into a kind of tortured limbo. While recovering from his recent breakup with a longtime boyfriend, David attempts to find an impasse with his emotionally remote father (Bradley Whitford) and reconnect with his sisters (Madison Beaty, Mauda Apatow) as he hangs out with an old pal (John Early). But things aren’t what they used to be, because he isn’t who he once was — and neither is everyone else. It’s a classic premise handled with audacity and wit by writer-director Chris Kelly, making his debut feature. The well-cast and deeply-felt ensemble includes Paul Dooley and June Squibb as David’s grandparents and is anchored by Plemons (TV’s FARGO and BREAKING BAD) and Shannon, in a turn far from the wacky characters she made her name with on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.
By John Secor
John Secor is a former New Yorker and is currently the producer of the Sarasota Film Festival.
Stand-up comic Stephen K. Davis brings his touching humor to the SaraSolo Festival Feb 4th, 9:30 p.m. at the Starlite Room.
Stephen, originally from a small, conservative town outside of Columbia, South Carolina, courageously came out at a young age. Yet, his classmates and neighbors weren’t accepting as his parents. The Davis family determined that someone poisoned Stephen’s dog; a hate crime that truly hurt the family. After the pet suffered paralysis from the neck down, the veterinarian suggested the best the dog be euthanized. The family reluctantly agreed.
When Stephen and his parents returned home from the veterinarian after putting the beloved pet down, bullies drove by as Stephen stood sadly in the driveway.
“They screamed ‘FAGGOT!’ and all kinds of other things,” Stephen recalled recently.
It was those kind of experiences that shaped his performance for the 2017 SaraSolo performance. Stephen has learned humor often comes from hurt. And it shapes who you are today.
Stephen will be making a special appearance at Elevate, Friday, Feb. 1., where he’ll give the crowd a sample of his one-man show, THE BIRTH OF HUMOR.
SaraSolo organizers describe his show as “a brave stand-up comedy act juxtaposed with a collection of real life events of a gay boy growing up in the Deep South who becomes an actor in New York. The truth of his life stories informs his humor and the laughter makes everything possible.”
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased HERE
By: John Secor
Tara Bonds aka Trixie Champagne is one of Sarasota’s original divas. Last week her career came full circle when she became the show director at The Purple Rhino. She attributes her success to her mother who at first didn't know about her career path as a Drag Queen, but after accidentally finding out, has been pushing her to succeed as a performer ever since.
Trixie's first experience with the gay bar starts like most. “I went to my first gay bar underage. I saw my first drag show and Lindsay Carlton was in charge of that show. ” She went to a bar called Therapy which was the happening place to be every weekend. She went inside, saw the show and said “oh that looks fun, I can do that” and asked Lindsey if she could be in the show. Lindsay accepted and she was booked. “I had the best job!” Trixie said.
Trixie remembers performing on stage at Therapy “My mother had no idea what I was doing. until she unexpectedly stumbled in and saw me on stage. I came out and did my thing and was shocked as shit when I saw her in the audience.”
“My mother became my biggest fan! She came out to all my shows and was my biggest supporter. She even wanted to by my manager” Trixie laughed.
Trixie has known she was transgender since she was 19 years old and although Trixie identifies as trans and also considers herself a drag queen. “Drag is what I do as work. It’s a tricky one, Some trans girls don't want to be called a drag queen but they perform as a drag queen for work. Me personally I don't get mad because it is what I do…” Trixie explained. Trixie's been working in the LGBT scene for 17 years where she has opened and closed some of Sarasota’s most infamous gay bars to date. Trixie performed at Triangles, Club Heat, ID Martini and The Alley to name a few, where she was either a cast member or show director.
After many years of success, the scene of Sarasota changed and she found herself out of work. “All the bars closed, there was no place to work, no one stepped in to do anything,” she explained. “Eventually new places opened but they didn't book me.” She decided that she would just stop doing drag. “It kinda hurt,” she said. “After everything I’ve done for the community.”
Trixie spent her time off working on her relationship with her husband of 7 years. “He’s always been supportive of my career,” She said. “He would tell me to go work at throb and perform, and do what makes me happy” But she didn't want to perform anymore. “drag became a headache,” she said. Up until two years ago when Lindsay Carlton called her asking her to help out with the new show at The Purple Rhino. “I told her I don't do drag anymore... but I would think about it. I hung up and called my mom” Trixie explained.
“My mom said, well you know Purple Rhino is only a few blocks from me… So put on a gown, get your ass on stage and do it!”
“Because my mom’s health was not doing well, her words of encouragement meant even more! My mom has always been a huge supporter of the community once she found out I was doing drag.” Trixie explained. “So I said yes to Lindsay!” And for the last 2 years Trixie has been performing every week at the Purple Rhino and when her mother is feeling healthy, she can be found in the audience.
The purple Rhino is a non-for-profit organization to provide a place for Fellowship for the LGBT community located on Weber and Beneva. For the last few years Lindsay Carlton - the first lady of drag has been heading up the show. Over the last few weeks, Lindsay Carlton found herself feeling not appreciated in the position of show director and decided to step down. She was happy when Trixie stepped-up to the plate. “She’s taking the reigns, If anyone in this town can do it, other than me, it's Trixie,” Lindsay said. And as for Lindsay, “honey don't worry about me, I'm already signing new contracts as we speak!”
Trixie plans on bringing in fresh new talent each week to make sure the show is different. She also has plans on bringing in dancers and to possibly change the layout of the space to make it more inviting and more space to dance! Her ambition is big but her love for her craft and her drive to put on a great show for her mom is even bigger! We at SarasotaOUT.com believe that if anyone can do it’s her! We can't wait to see how Trixie will reinvent the night!
You can check out her show each Saturday at The Purple Rhino starting at 9PM.
By: Joshua Beadle, Editor & Chief of SarasotaOUT.com
People in the Sarasota area looking for LGBT-friendly resources now have a one-stop shop for their needs thanks to Sarasota OUT, Sarasota’s new LGBT directory of events and businesses. “I think Sarasota OUT could be the driving force to help make the LGBT community come together,” Sarasota OUT manager Josh Beadle says.
Beadle says he and Al Ferguson, owner of ALandCHUCK.travel, have discussed the issue of unification within the Sarasota LGBTQ community. Beadle says he and Ferguson noticed that several LGBT organizations were going in separate directions and no one was coming together to support each other.
“I wanted to give us the one place to go to see what’s going on in Sarasota,” Beadle says. “And Al (Ferguson) lit the candle under my ass to do that.”
SarasotaOUT.com has partnered with G2H2 (Gay Guy Happy Hour) to help strengthen and build the gay community in Sarasota! One of the ways we are helping is by being committed to raising more money for local LGBT non-profits.
At our January event, we raised and donated $550 for ALSO YOUTH thanks to the generosity of the G2H2 members and a donation from David Handley.
MORE ABOUT ALSO YOUTH:
ALSO Youth www.alsoyouth.org/ was created in 1992 by individuals who were alarmed at the statistics documenting high rates of suicide among gay and lesbian teens. In cooperation with other local organizations such as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Planned Parenthood; and YMCA Youth and Family Services, volunteers were recruited to conduct a support group for Sarasota-area youth. Upon realizing that more comprehensive services were needed throughout the community, ALSO’s founders initiated contact with school officials and implemented a training program for educators. The types of services and numbers of youth and community members served have steadily increased.
Today, ALSO Youth is a Non-Profit Charity that provides peer support services, educational programs, advocacy, and referrals for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning youth ages 13 to 21, their families and friends, and the community, thereby enhancing self-esteem, promoting healthy dialogue, and increasing awareness of sexual minority youth issues.