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Carol Coombes returns to Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival; Mark Gilbert new interim board chairman

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

The merry-go-round known as the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival reports that Carol Coombes -- fired as festival director in 2008 because some board members complained she "micromanaged her job" -- is back, this time as interim program director.

"I am thrilled to return to the South Florida gay film festival scene and help grow the festival in Fort Lauderdale," Coombes said in a festival news release on Friday. "While there has been a history between me and the organization, time is a great healer. I have a special place in my heart for South Florida and I am passionate about creating an extraordinary roster of films to make the upcoming event an amazing experience for our audiences, the filmmakers and the community."

Coombes succeeds Franc Castro, the festival's director for four years. Castro, a previous festival board member and chairman, will pursue master’s degrees in radio/TV/film and Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.

Also announced Friday: Mark Gilbert has been named interim board chairman, succeeding Wood Kinnard "who has stepped back for personal reasons."

Known on South Florida radio as Marky G, Gilbert has been a festival board member for a total of 11 years.

In 2008, Gilbert was one of four board members who walked out after Coombes' firing.

"None of the resignations are due to differences in opinion on recent staffing decisions or the new direction of the MGLFF/FLGLFF," the board members said at the time.

Gilbert received the festival's Angel Award in 2012 and he returned to the board shortly after.

The fifth annual Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival runs October 10-13. The 16th annual Miami festival will be April 25-May 4, 2014.

"Fort Lauderdale is right around the corner. We have so much to do," said Gilbert, adding that he hasn't contemplated his role in the festival beyond the end of 2013.

Comments

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Really? A Merry Go Round? Seems like all the parties mentioned have put in many years at the MGLFF. How long will 2008 remain what the MGLFF is known for? We brought James Franco to Miami in 2013. No other LGBT film festival can claim this accomplishment.

It is wonderful news that my friend and former/present colleague Carol Coombes will be bringing her sharp eye and intuitive programming back to our community's LGBT arts scene. This decision says a lot about Carol's tenacity and the selfless soul-searching she has done in the past 5 years to achieve the healing mentioned in her comments. She is a talented professional and has much more to give and share, she will bring an energy to FLGLFF that is a true evolution from the pre-2008 days. I also congratulate MarkyG for his own work in orchestrating a reconciliation that all parties deserve, and I wish Franc Castro all the best in his new adventures.

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