A Very Warm Welcome to Our Own Neighborhood Film Festival
May I start with a very warm, heartfelt welcome from me to you. Thanks to you, we will make the first year of our Southwest Florida LGBT+ film festival an immediate, great success.
In 2020, our first year, our community film festival joins the long and storied history of LGBT+ community film festivals across the United States, as its 73rd member. There are well-known LGBT+ film festivals in other countries around the world that have long and storied histories as well and we can talk about them another time.
The First LGBT+ Film Festival, Yesterday and Today
In the U.S., the first LGBT+ community film festival was The Gay Film Festival of the Super-8 Films, San Francisco, 1977, presented by Frameline Film Festival with the mission “to change the world through the power of queer cinema.”(1+2) Going through several name changes, today, the film festival uses the name San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival.
The San Francisco film festival presents audience awards for Best Feature Film, $1,000 (Song Lang, Leon Le, Director, 2019); Best Documentary, $1,000 (Changing the Game, Michael Barnett, Director, 2019); Best Episodic, $500 (A Luv Tale: The Series, Kay Oyegun, Director, 2019); and Best Short Film, $500 (Bubble, Alyssa Lerner, Director, 2019).
It presents juried awards for First Feature Award (End of the Century, Lucio Castro, Director, 2019) and Best Documentary Award (Vision Portraits, Rodney Evans, Director, 2019).
And, it presents The Frameline Award to one person or one entity that has made a major contribution to LGBTQ+ representation in film, television, or the media arts.(3) The recipient of the 2019 award was Rodney Evans, Director of Brother to Brother (2004) and Vision Portraits (2019), a documentary that shows the unique ways that artists meet the challenges of going blind or blindness.
A Fresh Look at LGBT+ Film Festivals
We are very much excited to start our own LGBT+ community film festival for us living in Southwest Florida. Today, in Florida, there are five LGBT+ film festivals: Pensacola in North Florida, Orlando, Tampa Bay/St. Pete, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami in South Florida.
Being a new member comes with responsibilities and opportunities. We want to begin our first year with a running start (learning from long-time LGBT+ film festivals) and also take a leadership role where leadership opportunities exist. That being said, our mission and goals are more romantic than other film festivals in our state and nationwide. Their missions are to educate, enlighten and entertain audiences through LGBT+ films. We go a few steps further.
Four Leadership Opportunities for LGBT+ Film Festivals
First, we showcase films that show our community living lives of happiness, love and respect. We also show documentaries that depict LGBT+ lives in their raw state, but our film festival’s overall message is happiness, love and respect.
Second, we showcase LGBT+ leaders in our local community and state community, with meet and greet activities at our film festival. It’s a way for us to unite and learn about our local and state team, so that we know who to thank, and who to connect with, if and when we need to ask for their help along our life journeys as young adults (younger than 18), adults (older than 17), career adults, and retired adults.
Third, we recognize and honor LGBT+ leaders in our local, state, national, and international community. Day in and day out, they advocate for us, so that we can live lives of happiness, love and respect. They are leaders of our community; leaders of local, state, national, and international businesses; and leaders of local, state, national, and international non-profits. At our film festival, for all of us to recognize and appreciate, we present our honorary Crystal Heart Award for their contributions.
And, we want to invest in our youth (funding college and trade school scholarships) and our film community (funding feature film project grants and documentary project grants to increase the box office success and visibility of LGBT+ feature films and documentaries).
You Are Our Most, Very Important Person
Remember this, though, you are the most, very important person to us. Please let me know or please connect with anyone who is associated with our film festival, if you have ideas to make this year’s film festival better, or if you have ideas to make our future film festivals better, or if you need anything from us to make our first film festival more enjoyable and more worthwhile for you. We want to do anything for you that we can. Our mission is happiness, love and respect.
Thomas Chenoweth, Program Director/ Founder
OutLove International Film Festival of Southwest Florida
(1+2) Wikipedia.org, (3) FramelineFilmFestival.org1
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