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Tampa Bay’s 2021 Gay & Lesbian Film Festival begins Friday

Bill DeYoung



Natalie Morales and Mark Duplass (inset) star in "Language Lessons," the opening feature at the 2021 Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Photos provided.

The Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival begins Friday. It’s the 32nd annual event and there’s more cause for celebration than ever: After circumstances dictated it go all virtual in 2020, this year’s festival is back at home in the Tampa Theatre, and at Sundial. (There’s still a virtual component, too, for those who’d prefer the stay-at-home route).

“Festivals were meant to be a shared experience with a community,” director of programming Derek Horne wrote in the 2021 event guide, “allowing for discussion immediately after the screenings.”

Opening weekend, Oct. 1-4, takes place at the Tampa Theatre with 11 feature films, many making their Florida debuts; during the week, the programming (short films and documentaries) is all virtual, and things wrap up live and in person at Sundial Oct. 9 (three additional features). The final day is devoted to virtual screenings of the festival award winners.

The official trailer for Amazon Prime’s fall series “Tampa Baes” will debut Monday.

One of the many highlights of this year’s TIGLFF schedule may be the shortest film of them all: The long-awaited trailer for the Amazon Prime “reality” series Tampa Baes, with an all-local cast breathlessly described by the network as “the young lesbian ‘it-crowd’ navigating and celebrating life in Tampa Bay — Florida’s LGBTQ+ hub and the place to see and be seen.”

The trailer will precede each virtual screening of the British documentary Rebel Dykes, Oct. 4-10.

Feature highlights of the 2021 festival:

Language Lessons: Natalie Morales co-wrote, directed and co-stars in this drama about a gay man (Mark Duplass) whose husband gifts him with virtual Spanish lessons. His teacher (Morales) is in Central America; they form an unlikely bond. The film was shot during the worst days of the pandemic, and each character appears on a computer screen, further highlighting the need for personal connection. Screening at the Tampa Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1.

Jump, Darling: Cloris Leachman’s final film casts her as an elderly shut-in whose life is changed by the unexpected arrival of her wayward grandson (Thomas Duplessie), a nascent drag queen reeling from a rocky breakup. Said critic Glenn Gaylord in The Queer Review: “Jump, Darling is about finding yourself by thinking about others. With depression, sadly, too many people drown in their own negative self-talk, and this film shows a beautiful pathway out of that paralyzing condition. It also makes a strong case for controlling your own destiny in a way I found quite profound.” Screening at the Tampa Theatre at 5 p.m. Oct. 2.

“Glob Lessons.”

Glob Lessons: North Dakota actors Nicole Rodenburg and Colin Froeber wrote and cast themselves in a comic drama about two mismatched strangers performing low-budget children’s theater, traveling across that state in a minivan. According to the Tribeca selection’s official website, the two “struggle to overcome their fears of inadequacy and intimacy in order to survive that lonely tundra called life.” Said Reel News Daily: “The moments of genuine intimacy between Froeber and Rodenburg grab hold of the viewer. Jesse and Alan are fleshed-out characters. At times they are pathetic, other times endearing. The chemistry between Froeber and Rodenburg is the stuff of movie magic.” Screening at Sundial at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9.

To view the full schedule, see the program here.




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