Over The Rainbow And On The Big Screen

SARASOTA, FLORIDA – Four nights of decadent soirees and 10 top-quality independent films are making this year’s Sarasota Film Society’s Gay and Lesbian Film Celebration a must.
In its eighth year, the annual event is blessed with a larger budget and a more diverse sampling of yet-to-be-released international gems.
From the raunchy spoof “Another Gay Movie” to the lesbian romantic comedy “What’s Up, Scarlet?” and the transgender documentary “Almost Myself,” the lineup is dazzlingly fresh. Screenings are coupled with catered champagne receptions, live entertainment and club-hopping — all to foster a sense of community in the spirit of alternative culture.
“This year, we’ve found that people wanted more comedies and more parties, because in the end, the movies are really just a tool through which people get together,” said Robert Macadaeg, a spokesman for the Film Society. “That’s what it’s really about.”
Making this mingling possible are sponsors such as A League of Our Own (a gay bowling league for Sarasota-Bradenton and Venice residents), which contributed $3,000 to the cause. The added funds helped organizers secure reels that may otherwise have been unattainable.
“That money made a huge difference. A lot of films don’t really get major distribution, so they have to make their money off the festival circuit. That lessens your ability to get the films for free,” Macadaeg said. “This year, we’ve got a really great group of films.”
Magida Diouri, the film society’s artistic director, was able to scope out gay-themed prospects from Canada, France, New Zealand, Romania, Spain and the United States.
“It’s a four-day long summertime party, so people want comedies,” Diouri said. “But there are also some important, well-made dramas coming onto the market, so I included more serious films as well.”
Another serious element of the festival is the donation of its proceeds.
Revenues from the opening-night party at Metro Coffee & Wine will benefit ALSO Out Youth, a Sarasota-Manatee organization dedicated to the health, safety and personal growth of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning youth.
Last year, organizers brought in about 1,200 people and $4,000 for the group. This time, Macadaeg anticipates an attendance of at least 2,000.
“It’s getting better every year, because the gay crowd is really starting to show up,” Macadaeg said. “In the past, we would have lots of sponsors, but the attendance was not that great. This year, we’ve had great advance sales.”
Because many of the films are not rated, the target demographic is 18 and older, Macadaeg said, although all ages are welcome to attend the galas.
Hosting a party all four nights is also unprecedented in the festival’s history; before, it was just done on the first and last evenings. But considering the high demand for revelry, organizers had to be accommodating.
“There’s such a positive, accepting atmosphere at these events,” Macadaeg said. “The real pleasure comes in just hanging out together with people who are accepting. This is a great crowd.”
from The Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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