If the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival survives another 27 years, it'll require the future of LGBTQ culture remembering its past.
"We need more youth (involvement)," festival executive director Scott Skyberg said by phone. "The youth need to see what we've been through, where we've come from, so we don't go back there again."
In an effort to attract younger moviegoers, Skyberg said the festival will offer free admission to age-appropriate screenings for anyone younger than 25 with a valid student ID.
That isn't the festival's only gift to attendees. In now customary style, the festival begins Friday with free admission to Tampa Theatre for the opening night selection. Tickets for other films are $15 per session.
Friday's opening film at 7:30 p.m. is The Freedom to Marry, Eddie Rosenstein's documentary account of the Supreme Court decision affirming same-sex marriage. The director and activists Evan Wolfson and Mary Bonauto will attend. The Freedom to Marry will be preceded by the short film We Are Gay, We Are Proud, We Are Orlando, a Pulse nightclub memorial.
"We normally wouldn't open with a documentary," Skyberg said. "But this isn't an ordinary documentary. (It has) a dramatic, nail-biting storyline."
At 10 p.m. Friday, the Parisian love story Paris 05:59: Theo & Hugo will be shown. That film is not part of the free admission plan. Admission is free for after-party at the nearby Anise Global Gastrobar with drink specials all night.
Saturday's schedule includes a queer youth celebration at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Art at 11 a.m., featuring the drama Coming Out and two short subjects. At the same time, Tampa Theatre begins a slate of seven films including Where Are You Going, Habibi? (11 a.m.); Strike a Pose (5 p.m.) profiling Madonna's backup dancing troupe; and Rob Williams' Shared Rooms (11:15 p.m.).
Sunday brings another full day of screenings at Tampa Theatre, starting at 11 a.m. with The Guys Next Door and concluding with the road trip thriller Retake at 9 p.m.
During weekdays, Tampa Theatre will present two evening screenings, with the exception of Wednesday when Emmy winning comedian Leslie Jordan performs at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35-$100. The French coming-of-age drama Being 17 follows Jordan's show.
Wednesday is also when St. Petersburg's Freefall Theatre takes over as the festival's hub venue. The first of 11 screening sessions held at Freefall is Clambake (6:45 p.m.), reflecting on 30 years of lesbian leisure in Provincetown, Mass.
The Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival concludes Oct. 8 at Sundial 19 in St. Petersburg, with a pair of closing night showcases, each beginning at 7 p.m. Bear City 3 completes Doug Langway's screwball comedy trilogy, while Women Who Kill takes a darkly comic look at lesbian relationships. Each screening will be followed by a closing night party at Punky's on Central.
Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.