The 8th annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival concluded on Sunday night with a packed house at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts and a frothy after-party at the Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building.
Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Board chairman Michael Toomey took to the stage on behalf of the entire Board of Directors to remind everyone of MGLFF's primary mission: to entertain and enrich. Based on the evidence of 10 days of wonderful films, the audience heartily agreed with his assessment that MGLFF 2006 was the best Festival yet.
Festival co-directors Jaie Laplante and Carol Coombes, along with HBO's Dennis Williams, then announced the 3 winners of the Juried Awards sponsored by HBO. The $5,000 Best Fiction Feature Award went to French director Christian Faure for his sweeping historical World War II drama A Love to Hide.
The $1,500 Best Documentary Feature Award went to director Malcom Ingram for small town gay bar. Ingram was on hand to accept the word in person and spoke about the bravery and courage of the subjects of his film, many of whom took personal risks to appear in his film. In an emotional acceptance speech, Ingram also noted this was his first appearance at a gay and lesbian film festival, and then introduced the audience to his mother who was attending the Festival with him, whom he had just come out to only 3 months before.
A Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision went to Spanish director Ramón Salazar for 20 Centimeters.
After the riotious screening of the Closing Night Film, Todd Stephens' Another Gay Movie, a packed crowd attended the after-party where the Audience Award winners were unveiled. In an unusual twist, Faure's A Love to Hide was also named the Audience Favorite Feature Film Award, adding an extra $1,000 to his prize winnings.
MGLFF audiences were clearly taken with 2 of the Festival's World Premieres. Andrea Meyerson's just-finished Laughing Matters...More! (pictured below), a sequel to her 2004 hit Laughing Matters, was named Audience Favorite Documentary. The HBO-sponsored prize also carried with it a prize of $1,000. Meyerson was in attendance and was surprised and delighted with the award. Another World Premiere, Shay Sellars' "THE BLACK BOX: a personal essay", part of the Cries of Freedom: Women of Color, Women of Change program, was named Audience Favorite Short, and won the HBO-sponsored prize of $500.
Earlier in the week, the 2006 Career Achievement Award, sponsored by HBO with a $1,000 honorarium, was presented to French director François Ozon just before the U.S. premiere of his latest film, Time to Leave. The star of Time to Leave, Melvil Poupaud, flew in from Paris to accept the award on Ozon's behalf, as Ozon is currently shooting his first English-language feature film in London.
Total tickets estimates indicated a climb in attendance from last year's total of 12,000 to nearly 13,000 in 2006. Final numbers will be released later this week. The Opening Night Gala, featuring the Spanish film Reinas (Queens) and Latina legend Charytin as Diva of Ceremonies, attracted MGLFF's largest ever opening night audience.
The 8th annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival was presented by Avis Rent-a-Car and Sundance Channel. The Opening Night Gala was presented by Karu&Y.
The $10,000 Producer's Circle Studio Heads for 2006 were the late Arnold Berliner and Stephen Grundstein, and Peter Grigsby & George Weeks, all of Miami Beach.
Additionally, the Festival was sponsored by Absolut, Clear Image Creative Group, Here!TV, Regal Entertainment Group, and Tylenol PM. The Official Host Hotels and Delegate Center are The Hotel of South Beach and the Park Central Hotel.
Other major sponsors included: The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building, Logo TV, Majestic Properties, Miami Boutique Hotels, Passport Magazine, The National Hotel, Hotel Nash, Jet Blue, Air Canada, Icandee Productions, Mellon United National Bank, Perrier, Ultra & Pandora Events, Words on the Beach, PlanetOut.com, Gay.com, New Times, City Link Magazine, She Magazine, The Wire, Window Media, and the Miami Beach Cinematheque.
The Festival is indebted to the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade Tourist Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners; the Miami Beach Visitor & Convention Authority (VCA) and the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts; the Miami Downtown Development Authority; and the Women's Community Fund.
As well, the 8th annual Festival was supported by a grant from Dade Community Foundation, Greater Miami's permanent endowment made possible by generous donors since 1967.
Additionally, Communion Foundation made a donation of $3,000 to the Festival as the first beneficiary of its 2006 program of events.