On the weekend of Saturday, Aug. 3, Broken Rules Productions, in association with Sarasota Pride, threw the first soon-to-be annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival in Gompertz Theatre in downtown Sarasota. From 2p.m to 10p.m the fest screened four LGBT themed feature length films and three shorts. To cap off the night, the festival held an after party at Selva Grill where, amid the chill beats of local indie band MeteorEYES, filmgoers could exchange their movie stubs for a free cocktail.
Regardless of sexual orientation, locals and New College students alike could pay $8.00 per film or volunteer for the evening for free tickets. Refreshments, outrageously inexpensive by today’s picture house standards, were available inside the theater with items like popcorn priced at only a dollar.
“I thought the movie was surprisingly good, and it featured a cameo from John Waters, who played the main character’s hallucination of Jesus,” first-year Sarra Armbruster told the Catalyst in an email, describing the featured indie film, Mangus. “The cast was good, as was the writing. The people there were all incredibly nice and they had refreshments and things for sale … The theater was small, but it kind of added to [the] atmosphere.”
In the small, quietly comfortable theater, creator of Broken Rules Productions Magida Diouri made efforts to extend a personal touch and gave a small speech before the final film.
“I worked at the Sarasota Film Society as the Artistic Director and I programmed their festival,” explained Diouri in an interview. “There used to be an LGBT film festival but they no longer have one … I’ve always done it and it just felt necessary.”
Diouri asserted that fun, feel-good movies were the main criteria in her film selection process. “I was looking for lightheartedness,” she said. “These times are not the easiest ones right now for many people, and plus lightheartedness — it can encompass more people. It’s more welcome to everyone, without exclusion. People are more willing to see things they’re not aware of if it’s lighthearted.”
“It’s kind of nice that they gather films that … don’t belittle the gay characters,” said Armbruster, commenting on the festival’s ‘fabulous’ theme. “In cinema … there’s like the token gay or whatever but there’s generally not a main character in mainstream films that’s LGBTQ.”
MeteorEYES, the local band who performed at the Selva Grill after party, also contributed a music video to the program entitled “Best Text.” Other shorts included Australian film “Baby Cake” and Canadian short “52.” According to their website, the festival plans to extend the celebration to a two-day event next year. Below are some brief descriptions of the gems of this year’s fest — the feature length films, courtesy of www.fest21.com.