Scene: Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

 
 

She’s an up-and-coming
artist in every sense of the word, about to release her first studio album, and
one of her songs was featured on a fourth-season L Word episode — surely a good sign. After her set, I spoke with
her briefly. Sol was incredibly gracious, greeting me with a hug and a smile.

Sol Ruiz

I also met with a few
festival workers who were more than happy to discuss that night’s screening of The Edge of Heaven and the overall
quality of the women’s films. Surely, we’ve come a long way from the days where
the mere presence of lesbians in a film was a reason to cherish it (I’m looking
at you, Go Fish!), and the
centerpiece women’s films (including The
Secrets
, The Edge of Heaven and
audience choice winner The World Unseen)
really proved this point.

It may have been the wine
talking, but I couldn’t help but think that this was a sign. I imagined the
headline “Lesbian films no longer terrible!” — at least those made outside of North America.

Scene 3: Movies in the Park – Tru
Loved
and HBO shorts
The Flamingo South Beach
May 2, 2008

One of the most popular
events of the festival is the outdoor screening held at the luxurious Flamingo
condo overlooking the bay. This year, the coordinators put together a fantastic
evening of queer film under the stars, with a premiere screening of three
HBO-sponsored shorts and the feature Tru
Loved
.

The evening began with a
little casual schmoozing in the twilight, fueled again by the sponsorship of
Absolut. In fact, all of the festival’s sponsors were in attendance, as the
Tylenol PM people (“sleepy kids,” complete with cute PJ’s and annoyed marketer
expressions) were handing out free samples — best not to mix with the vodka.

I talked briefly with
Karla DiBenedetto, director of the sole
lesbian-themed short, Trophy, a
wonderfully subversive piece about a teen who finds her dad’s new fiancée
incredibly appealing. The film was quite funny, with a rather unexpected twist
that speaks to the lothario teenager in all of us.

DiBenedetto
explained that her script (and two others) were selected by HBO, and the
filmmakers were given grants to produce their work for the channel. Like most
directors of short films, she’s looking to make the jump into features, and if Trophy is any indication, she’s well on
her way.

As for that night’s
feature, the festival programmers couldn’t have picked a better film for the
easygoing atmosphere than the bouncy, hilarious and surprisingly touching Tru Loved. The film follows Tru, a
straight high schooler with the coolest lesbian moms on the planet, who becomes
a beard for the school’s star quarterback. It’s a wonderfully inclusive and
diverse film, with an interracial lesbian relationship front and center.

The film’s director, Stewart
Wade, and several of its stars were in attendance, chomping on popcorn and
mingling about in the breezy tropical evening. I saw Najarra Townsend (Tru) and
the ever-radiant Nichelle Nichols (Grams in the film, though we all know her as
Uhura from the original Star Trek).
Nichols looked positively regal and appeared to be having a blast, laughing
right along with the audience and giggling good-naturedly at her own
appearances. Townsend was subdued and gracious when various audience members
came up to congratulate her on her performance.

After the film, Wade,
Nichols and Townsend fielded a little Q&A session, in which a few
enthusiastic audience members (including one Trekkie) poured on their love for
the project.

Nichols (left) and Townsend

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