TIGLFF Evens the Gender Score

Matt Smith stars in Mapplethorpe, showing Wednesday, Oct. 10. The film’s director, Ondi Timoner, is one of the many female/non-male-identifying directors represented this year.

TIGLFF Evens the
Gender Score

The 2018 Tampa Gay & Lesbian Film Festival gives more consideration to filmmakers who don’t identify as men.

By TIFFANY RAZZANO | Oct. 4, 2018

As the #MeToo movement continues to dominate headlines and empower women around the globe, for KJ Mohr, program director of the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, what stands out most about this year’s event is the gender parity represented by the films selected.

Of the 63 films at the festival with screenings in Tampa and St. Pete, 59 percent are directed by women, “which is extraordinary,” she said. “It’s the thing I’m most excited about.” In comparison, she added, Toronto LGBT Film Festival organizers were excited that 35 percent of the films they screened earlier this year had female directors.

“So, for us, there’s a lot of excitement that more of these (women) directors are finally being seen,” Mohr said. “You always hope for 50-50, but every year you’re beholden to whatever films were produced that year.”

Molly Shannon plays Emily Dickinson in Wild Nights With Emily, kicking off the fest at Tampa Theatre on Friday, Oct. 5, at 7:15 p.m..

The festival, which runs Oct. 5-13 at various venues throughout Tampa and St. Petersburg, is also making more of an effort to reach women in the Tampa Bay region this year. The weeklong celebration of LGBTQ+ films kicks off Friday, Oct. 5, 7:15 p.m., at the Tampa Theatre with Wild Nights with Emily, a period dramatic comedy starring Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live) as poet Emily Dickinson.

The film’s director Madeleine Olnek has made “quirky, weird films for lesbians since she started her career,” Mohr said. She added, “I love biographies and I’ve never seen a biopic like this. It blows Emily Dickinson out of the water.”

This year also marks the return of Frisky Friday, a women’s party, Friday, Oct. 5, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., at the Hilton Downtown Tampa following the screening of Wild Nights with Emily. In the past, this event has drawn hundreds of women, Mohr said, and she hopes this year’s party will reach a new generation of potential cinephiles.

“It’s always so important to bring younger women in,” she said, “and getting women in general to the festival is always a challenge. My old joke is that lesbians would rather stay home with their cats and watch Cagney & Lacey reruns than go out and deal with the public. They’re more hermit-y.”

Several other films delve into the lives of “our queer elders,” Mohr said.

Matt Smith (The Crown, Doctor Who) embodies iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the biopic Mapplethorpe. Serving as the festival’s narrative centerpiece, this film will be shown at the Tampa Theatre Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7:45 p.m. Before the film, Margaret Miller (University of South Florida Graphics Studio, where Mapplethorpe, intrigued by the possibilities of photogravure, came to collaborate), Mark Ormond (curator, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art) and others will participate in a free conversation and panel discussion.

The documentary Every Act of Life (Saturday, Oct. 13, 11:15 a.m., freeFall Theatre) delves into the life of Tony-award winner Terrence McNally, while Making Montgomery Clift (Sunday, Oct. 7, 11:30 a.m., Tampa Theatre) explores the legendary actor’s legacy through the lens of his nephew.

The festival concludes on Saturday, Oct. 13, with Ideal Home, 8 p.m. at AMC Sundial, St. Petersburg.

Trans issues and experiences are also “more at the forefront” this year, Mohr said. Documentaries on the schedule include Transgeek (Friday, Oct. 12, 5:30 p.m., freeFall Theatre) and Transmilitary (Thursday, Oct. 11, 5 p.m., Tampa Theatre).  Meanwhile, Call Her Ganda, the true story of a 26-year-old Filipina transgender woman and alleged sex worker, Jennifer Laude, who was found dead in a motel room, won the festival’s Jury Award. The film is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 9, 5 p.m., at the Tampa Theatre.

The festival closes with Ideal Home Saturday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m., at AMC Sundial in St. Petersburg. The film stars Paul Rudd (Ant-Man, This Is 40) and Steve Coogan (24-Hour Party People, Alan Partridge) as Paul and Erasmus, respectively, a bickering gay couple who reluctantly find themselves the guardians of a 10-year-old boy.

The closing night party will take place at Thirsty First in St. Petersburg following Ideal Home.

For more about the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, full schedule of films and ticketing information, visit tiglff.com.

Leave a Reply

Become a Creative Pinellas Supporter