Twenty years was longer than anyone expected the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival to last.
Ten days of celebrating that milestone don't seem like enough.
Created in less tolerant times for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives, the festival has advanced its cause — and its longevity — by mixing the finest genre films available with ferocious parties.
Like Saturday night's Sugar shindig for women at the Honey Pot, 1507 E Seventh Ave. in Ybor City, and the Surge party for men just down the street at Czar, 1420 E Seventh Ave.). Both begin at 9 p.m. with $15 admission charges.
Movies resume at 7 tonight at Tampa Theatre with Friends and Lovers: Ski Trip 2, a comedy starring Maurice Jamal (Chappelle's Show) in an ensemble comedy set in Los Angeles. Jamal will conduct a Q&A session after the film. The Butch Factor (9 p.m.) is a documentary about the macho side of homosexuality, including a gay football league. The film is preceded by the short Brighton Bandits.
Tonight also offers the final two festival films presented at Muvico BayWalk 20 in St. Petersburg. City of Borders (7:30 p.m.) focuses on a gay bar located in the heart of Jerusalem where Jews and Palestinians alike meet for fun and companionship. The short film Lesbanese precedes the movie. Chef's Special (9:30 p.m.) is a comedy about a Madrid chef competing with his long-lost daughter for a man.
Friday's Tampa Theatre highlight is Shamim Sarif's drama I Can't Think Straight (7 p.m.), involving a Palestinian Christian (Sheetal Sheth) and Indian Muslim (Lisa Ray) in London balancing love with cultural commitment. Sarif and actor Hanan Kattan will answer questions after the film.
Other Friday films include the conception dramedy Patrick 1.5 (9 p.m.) and College Boys Live (11 p.m.), set in Orlando where three gay students go online with a 24-hour Webcast.
The festival resumes at noon Saturday with Night Fliers, a coming of age drama, followed by collections of short films about lesbians (1:45 p.m.) and gay men (4:15 p.m.). Nancy Kissam's Drool (6:45 p.m.) stars Laura Harring (Mulholland Dr.) as a Southern housewife in an interracial lesbian affair. The day's lineup concludes at 8:45 p.m. with Eating Out 3, a screwball gay comedy.
Sunday's lineup includes the documentary Prodigal Sons (1 p.m.), the AIDS chronicle Fig Trees (3 p.m.) and And Then Came Lola (5 p.m.).
Wrapping up the festival at 7 p.m. is Casper Andreas' irreverent Big Gay Musical, which is truth in advertising, to be certain.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs. tampabay.com/movies.