With drag queens and soldiers sharing the big screen this weekend, it can only mean that the Fabulous Independent Film Festival (FIFF) is back in town. Celebrating its eighth year, this festival will screen a roster of some of the year's best LGBT films.
The films are all handpicked by Magida Diouri, who originally founded FIFF before donating it to the Harvey Milk Festival. She still serves as FIFF's programmer. While maintaining that every film screened is an absolute must-see, she's particularly fond of the festival's first screening at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, Transmilitary.
"Transmilitary is great because it really follows the struggle for acceptance within the military," Diouri says. "Everything depends on that acceptance; it's remarkable how important it is."
That sentiment is shared by president and founder of the Harvey Milk Festival, Shannon Fortner.
"I'm really excited about Transmilitary," Fortner says. "I appreciate films that are pertinent to the time that we are in."
Following Transmilitary, Tucked tells the story of a cancer-stricken drag queen, while a world-renowned playwright takes center stage in Every Act of Life. Meanwhile, a gay couple makes a decision about a 10-year old grandchild in An Ideal Home.
In collaboration with the Sarasota Film Society, the majority of screenings will take place at Burns Court Cinema with the exception of two.
Sarasotans can enjoy a free screening of Freelancers Anonymous at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29 at Payne Park, after the Youth Scholarship Award ceremony. Cafe in the Park will be open to provide food and refreshments, with a portion of the proceeds going back to HMF.
“We try to offer one of our LGBT youth a platform to get more involved with our organization, showcase local talent and provide scholarship and internship opportunities,” Fortner says of the Youth Scholarship program. “We have a sponsor that has donated funds for a 48-hour guerrilla film project.”
When the Beat Drops, a documentary about bucking, a form of dance particularly popular among African-American LGBT men, is a triple threat: The film will be accompanied by a brunch and panel discussion at noon on Sept. 29 at Sarasota Sky Bar. The new restaurant, the Overton, will provide a brunch menu for the event.
This year, films cover a range of stories united by a common theme.
“Love and acceptance,” Diouri says. “Because we are all different, and we don’t choose to be different. You don’t choose your sexuality or skin color; you just are. It’s OK to be different, and this festival is a celebration of diversity.”
Find more info, including how to purchase tickets, via the FIFF Facebook page.