By Steve Persall
Times Movie Critic
The Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival kicks off its 23rd edition Friday, looking fabulous through Oct. 13 at venues on both sides of Tampa Bay.
More than three dozen features, documentaries and short film collections dot the festival's lineup this year. Most screenings are held at Tampa Theatre, and six movies will be shown Tuesday through Oct. 11 at BayWalk 20 in St. Petersburg. Visit tiglff.com for a complete schedule.
All-access passes are available for $125 and $500. A six-pack of movie tickets costs $48. Single tickets are $10 and $8 for students with ID. For information and advance purchases, visit tiglff.com or call (813) 879-4220.
The festival begins Friday at Tampa Theatre with a 7:30 p.m. screening of Elliot Loves, directed by Gary Terracino, who'll introduce the movie. Elliot Loves stars Quentin Araujo in coming-of-age flashbacks, and Monte Bezell as the emotionally conflicted man he becomes. The movie won the audience prize at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in May.
Other intriguing titles in Tampa Theatre's weekend lineup include Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean (1 p.m. Saturday), dramatizing rumors of the late star's bisexuality, and Mosquita y Mari (6:45 p.m. Saturday), a story of sexual awakening for two first-generation immigrant girls.
Sunday's highlights include Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck) and Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) as longtime lesbian partners seeking to marry in Cloudburst (5 p.m.). Stick around for a 7 p.m. screening of Ira Sachs' semiautobiographical Keep the Lights On, a tale of addiction and codependency recently hailed on deadspin.com as "the year's best unhappy love story."
The festival's coveted closing night slot Oct. 13 goes to Rosser Goodman's Love or Whatever, a romantic comedy about a therapist (Joel Rush) rebounding after his boyfriend leaves him for a woman. Goodman and Rush are scheduled to attend the 7:30 p.m. screening at Tampa Theatre.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film festival without parties.
Friday's screening of Elliot Loves will be followed by an opening night soiree at Liquid Lounge, 1811 N 15th St. in Ybor City. Admission and a drink are free with a festival pass or ticket stub. Terracino and Bezell are scheduled to attend.
Festival patrons can grab a bite to eat before or after Friday's movie at a food truck rally on the plaza outside Tampa Theatre. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Tampa Bay Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
The closing night party Oct. 13 combines the annual Surge (for men) and Sugar (for women) parties previously held in separate nightclubs. This time they'll raise the same roof at Czar, 1430 Seventh Ave. in Ybor City, with New York's DJ Jalil Z and Hot Miami Latin Dancers entertaining men, with DJ Irene and Halcyon rocking the women. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.