Fred Rosser Honored at Outshine Film Festival in Miami

Courtesy of JR Davis
Fred Rosser and Michael Gongora

The LGBTQ-focused festival also announced an incentive program where nine Miami-set productions this year will be able to apply for a $10,000 grant.

Sunday night in Miami Beach, filmmakers and city representatives roamed an orange carpet on Ocean Drive to fete the closing night of the Outshine Film Festival. Professional wrestler and the evening's honoree Fred Rosser chatted about his Block the Hate movement, as guests enjoyed Caribbean and Latin food offerings to the beats spun by DJ Hott Pants.

It was the closing night awards party for the Outshine Film Festival, the largest LGBTQ cultural arts event in South Florida. Now in its 21st year, the festival, with around 4,000 attending, ran for 10 days and featured 85 films, including shorts and documentaries.

In its 21-year run, the biannual event formerly known as the MiFo LGBTQ Festival has evolved into a multicultural fair and platform for 15 film premieres and worldwide features.

The festival kicked off April 18 with Tell it to the Bees starring Anna Paquin at the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex in Overtown and closed with The Shiny Shrimps by French directors Maxime Govare and Cedric Le Gallo at the Regal theater on South Beach's Lincoln Road.

Integral in the event's success was the extraordinary skills among 40/60 ratio of lesbian and gay filmmakers. Among the foreign, indie and art films that demanded to be seen this year were the arresting Retablo, director Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio's gritty portrait of gay life in Peru, the ladies' spotlight feature presentation Vita & Virginia by Chanya Button, and Sister Aimee, a Next Innovator Award nominee at Sundance.

During the lively closing night, Fred Rosser was recognized with a Talent Vanguard award for his advocacy work and presented with the key to the city by the City of Miami Beach Vice Mayor Michael Gongora, the first openly gay Hispanic to win elected office in the state of Florida. On the stage, the joyful pro wrestler thanked his mother in the audience for teaching him how to be gay and proud. The festival's selection of gay-themed films this year, he told The Hollywood Reporter, were notable on shattering stereotypes.

"The films showed that being gay comes in all shapes and sizes. Most importantly, gay people were portrayed as being themselves," he said.

The list of winners included writer and producer Daniel Talbott's You Say Hello, the portrayal of a young gay boy suffering from mental illness which the festival's jury named the best short film. Local actress and producer Emily Leguizamo awarded The One You Never Forget, directed by Emily Fox, as audience favorite short film. Elisa and Marcela, set in a 19th-century Spain, took the trophy as the audience favorite narrative feature.

"Cinema is an important tool of communication, people need to tell the stories to further the conversation, especially marginalized sections of the society that are under attack," said Matt Kenny, city of Miami Beach tourism and culture director, who announced a stage incentive program where nine Miami-set productions this year will be able to apply for a $10,000 grant. "We want to stand not behind but beside them, making sure they have a seat at the table."

The 11th Annual Outshine Film Festival in Fort Lauderdale will run Oct. 10-20.