By Steve Persall
Times Movie Critic
The Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival concludes its 22nd edition Sunday with a movie harkening back to the year it began.
Sheldon Larry's dynamic Leave It on the Floor recalls 1990s Paris Is Burning, a landmark documentary revealing New York's ball culture, where Madonna got the idea for her hit song Vogue. Larry focuses on Los Angeles ball culture, where cross-dressers dance and prance in runway competitions, and a fictional character finds a new family.
Brad (Ephraim Sykes) is a runaway to L.A. from a mother who despises the fact he's gay. He meets Carter (Andre Myers), a regular performer at drag balls who introduces Brad to the culture and its colorful characters. Leave It on the Floor pulsates during these contests, with original songs and stage designs created by Kim Burse, a former road producer for Beyoncé and Jamie Foxx.
Sykes and Myers are fierce dancers, yet only passable actors, so Larry's dramatized touches can get in the way of a thoroughly good time. But like Paris Is Burning, his movie is a vibrant expression of personal freedom through flash and dazzle.
Leave It on the Floor earns the coveted closing night slot, 7 p.m. at Tampa Theatre. But there are still plenty of festival happenings before then.
The movie lineup takes a final detour across Tampa Bay tonight, to BayWalk 20 in St. Petersburg for a lesbian love story with an unprintable title. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Tampa Theatre presents The Love Patient (7 p.m.), a comedy of mistaken medical identity, and Absent (9 p.m.), a psychological thriller from Argentina.
Friday's movie schedule begins at 5 p.m. with 3 (Three), but the highlight may be Longhorns (9:30 p.m.), a comedy about frisky Texas frat boys sharing a weekend in the 1980s.
Saturday at Tampa Theatre begins at 11 a.m. with Bashment, followed by August (2 p.m.), Married in Spandex (4 p.m.) and the Sundance Film Festival award winner Circumstance (6 p.m.). Rounding out the evening is Bite Marks, a gay vampire horror yarn.
Take a break from watching movies Saturday night when the festival's Surge and Sugar parties commence at Ybor City nightspots Ritz Ybor and Honey Pot, respectively. Each begins at 9 p.m. and continues until closing time. Tickets are $10, or $15 for both parties. For an extra $10 the Sugar shindig offers dessert samples from various restaurants.
Sunday's closing-day lineup at Tampa Theatre begins at 1 p.m. with Angel, featuring a transvestite prostitute returning to an Ecuador village supported by her earnings. That documentary is followed by the dramas Judas Kiss (3 p.m.) and Walking Toward (5 p.m.), setting the stage for Leave It on the Floor.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.