Don't Miss These Picks at OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival Fort Lauderdale

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday October 14, 2022
Originally published on October 1, 2022

'Horseplay' is featured at this year's OUTshine LGBTQ+ film featival
'Horseplay' is featured at this year's OUTshine LGBTQ+ film featival  (Source:OUTshine)

OUTshine may have OUTdone itself this year with an exciting crop of diverse queer fare. This 14th Annual Fort Lauderdale Edition of OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival will run October 13 through October 23, with an opening night celebration at the NSU Art Museum.

The Opening Night entry, "The Blue Caftan," made its bow at the Cannes Film Festival this past May, and is now Morocco's International Film Oscar submission. It screens in the museum's theatre, followed by a party in the museum's gallery and outdoor balcony.

The exciting Ladies Centerpiece is the doc "The Return of Tanya Tucker," a musical tribute to the country music legend led by Brandi Carlile.

The Fest closes with "The Tiny Shrimps Fight Back," a comic look at a gay water polo team stranded in homophobic Russia.

"I have been programming LGBTQI+ festivals for a long time and rarely do I remember so many quality films being made... This year's program of films will not disappoint," states Joe Bilancio, Director of Programming for OUTshine.

OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival Fort Lauderdale Edition will have in-person screenings at the newly renovated Gateway Theatre and the Savor Theatre, as well as virtual screenings. This year's cinematic gems include 51 films from over 25 countries.

Tickets are available now at www.outshinefilm.com.

EDGE has screened many of this year's films, and the following are those we highly recommend.

'The Blue Caftan'
'The Blue Caftan'  (Source: OUTshine)

"The Blue Caftan"

Maryam Touzani's "The Blue Caftan" is an exquisitely-crafted meditation on love in a world where same-sex desire is not just frowned upon, but could mean shunning, prison, even death. Halim (Salem Bakri), is a devoted husband to his ailing wife, Mina (Lubna Azabal). His suppressed yearning for men only manifests in brief trysts at the local bathhouse. Halim is a master tailor who hand crafts his work, a dying art. The couple hire Youssef (Ayoub Missioui), a good-looking young apprentice, and feelings begin to develop between the two men. Touzani has woven together a sensitive, graceful, touching work about repression, connection, and acceptance. Morocco has bravely submitted this lovely film for International Oscar consideration. I write "bravely," because Morocco has strict laws against homosexuality. This one is highly recommended! In Arabic with English subtitles.

'Blessed Boys'
'Blessed Boys'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Blessed Boys (La santa piccola)"

Italian directors are finally exploring LGBTQ+ themes, and the results are keen and sometimes even bold. Silvia Brunetti's "Blessed Boys (La santa piccola)" tells two divergent, but very Italian, stories. The first is the homoerotically-charged relationship between Neapolitan best friends Lino (stunning Francesco Pellegrino) and Mario (Vincenzo Antonucci). It's obvious from the moment we see them together that Mario is crushing deeply on Lino. We're not quite sure if Lino returns the feelings, thanks to an impressively-modulated performance by Pellegrino. The second story involves Lino's little sister, who is soon taken for a saint by the villagers (the Italian title translated is "The Little Saint"). It's refreshing to see a film where these incredibly close male bonds in Italy are examined with honestly and grace. In Neapolitan dialect with English subtitles.

'Horseplay'
'Horseplay'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Horseplay (Los Agitadores)"

Argentinian helmer Marco Berger ("The Blonde One") sets his sites on toxic masculinity, homophobia, deep-seeded repression, vanity, and sexual fluidity in his sure-to-be-controversial new film, "Horseplay (Los Agitadores)." Ten attractive young male friends gather over the Christmas holiday at a villa where they indulge in homoerotic, often-naked shenanigans that involve faux sexual situations and even kissing (always having that phone ready to take shots), all the while spewing anti-gay rhetoric. But a couple of the guys may not be as het as everyone thinks. "Horseplay" feels like the kind of film a gay Lars von Trier would make (compliment), although the filmmaker doesn't take things quite far enough. Still, the movie is a fascinating deep dive into the damaging patriarchal world these dudes exist in, where irony and contradictory behavior seem to rule. The final shot speaks volumes. In Spanish with English subtitles.

'Chrissy Judy'
'Chrissy Judy'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Chrissy Judy"

After repeated viewings, "Chrissy Judy," a fest fave this year, just gets better. Queer filmmaker Todd Flaherty (who wrote, directed, produced, edited and stars) proves a true cinematic indie force. The movie centers on NY drag artist Judy (Flaherty), who breaks with his close partner and friend, Chrissy (Wyatt Fenner), and must figure out who he is on his own. This dark comedy, lovingly photographed in black and white by Brendan Flaherty, digs deep in its exploration of a fragile soul and his missed opportunities, and the results are exhilarating. Flaherty the director is assured and bold in his choices. Flaherty the writer is incisive, sassy and authentic — taking stereotypes and inverting them. Flaherty the actor? Sheer perfection.

'El Houb'
'El Houb'  (Source: OUTshine)

"El Houb (The Love)"

Shariff Nasr's incredibly poignant and funny film "El Houb (The Love)" examines the world of Karim (Fahd Larhzaoui), a Moroccan-Dutch man who is forced to come out to his uber-conservative Muslim parents as well as his homophobic brother. Their collective anger and outrage force Karim to literally lock himself in the family closet as he attempts to reach them. He also ruminates on the damage his repression has had on him life. "El Houb" is a loving, urgent film about having the courage to be one's true self in the face of hatred and adversity (whether or religious). The final moments are sublime. In English, Arabic and Dutch with English subtitles.

'Elephant'
'Elephant'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Elephant (Slon)"

Polish writer-director Kamil Krawczycki has crafted a sweet gay love story between a 22-year-old horse farmer (Jan Hrynkiewicz) and an older musician (Pawel Tomaszewski), the latter of whom is returning to this small town after the death of his father. There are outside threats from local bullies and from the farmer's mother. The film was shot in one of Poland's notorious "LGBT-free zones" — areas that reject any form of "LGBT propaganda," much like in Russia. Even amidst such homophobia, Krawczycki sees a light at the end of the repressed tunnel for his lovers, a welcome tonic. In Polish with English subtitles.

'Lonesome'
'Lonesome'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Lonesome"

Craig Boreham's "Lonesome" has graced almost every major LGBTQ+ festival in the last year, and for good reason. This intense, extraordinary feature is a stunner. The movie centers on cowboy Casey (Josh Lavery, riveting to watch), who has fled his small farm community for seedy Sydney (Australia), where he hooks up with super-sexually active Tib (Daniel Gabriel). Their tempestuous relationship reveals the damage their respective pasts have caused. The viewer is left disquieted, but enlightened.

'Before I Change My Mind'
'Before I Change My Mind'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Before I Change My Mind"

Canadian director Trevor Anderson has fashioned a delightfully strange film with "Before I Change My Mind." Set in the late '80s, the film centers on Robin (terrific newcomer Vaughan Murrae), who has moved from the States to Alberta. Is Robin a boy or a girl, schoolmates wonder? When Robin forges a bond with school bully Carter (Dominic Lippa), things only get more bizarre. The film's pièce de résistance is a wacky stage musical, "Mary Magdalene: Video Star," a campy show about the life of Christ seen through the eyes of the biblical prostitute. It's simply hilarious.

'Like Me'
'Like Me'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Like Me"

In the "unrequited gay love for your straight friend" category of niche LGBTQ+ films, "Like Me" provides a pleasant twist for queer viewers. The film, by Israeli filmmaker Eyal Kantor, centers on a slightly aimless young man, Tom (Yoav Keren), who delivers pizzas while he awaits military service. Tom is in love with his het best friend Galid (Mendi Barsheshet). Tom has no trouble using a way-too-hot sugar daddy (Gal Amitai) to meet his ends. One drunk night Tom and Galid let loose... and that is all I will say. Kantor's camera has a mega-crush on Keren, who appears to enjoy prancing about naked. In the end, the film impresses with its refusal to head in a predictable direction. In Hebrew with English subtitles.

'Three Headed Beast'
'Three Headed Beast'  (Source: OUTshine)

"Three Headed Beast"

"Three Headed Beast" could initially be mistaken for a silent film. Yet, filmmakers Fernando Andrés and Tyler Rugh's always keep the viewer enthralled with a resonant narrative that delves into the dynamics of a sexually-fluid open relationship. Peter (Jacob Schatz) and Nina (Dani Hurtado) are a content couple. Or are they? Nina has her flings, and Peter has been exploring his bisexual side with sweet young Alex (Cody Shook). But when things get a bit too intense between the men, Nina is left in limbo. The film is singular study of love, fulfillment, fear, and insecurity, as well as the importance of communication.

Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute