'Day It Snowed In Miami' gay-rights documentary to screen in Fort Lauderdale, be broadcast nationally
The film I co-produced, The Day It Snowed In Miami, will be screened Thursday night in Fort Lauderdale, is available on DVD and will be broadcast on the PBS network throughout June:
BY NANCY SAN MARTIN
The Day It Snowed In Miami — by director Joe Cardona in association with the Miami Herald Media Company (MHMC) and WPBT2 — also will be screened at The Classic Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday and DVDs are available for purchase at http://hrld.us/snow.
The feature-length film traces the political battle lines drawn in Miami in 1977 when gays sought approval of a then controversial Human Rights Ordinance, which guaranteed they would not be discriminated because of their “affectional or sexual preference.”
Opposing the ordinance: a group of conservatives led by nationally-known singer Anita Bryant, the state’s orange juice pitchwoman who lived in Miami Beach.
The dramatic clash — the ordinance was initially approved and repealed months later by Miami-Dade voters — marked a seminal moment in the nation’s gay rights movement now captured in the documentary, which begins it’s national broadcast during Lesbian and Gay Pride Month on KOCE in Los Angeles and WTTW in Chicago.
In the month of June, alone, the documentary will broadcast on about 64 percent of the top 25 PBS markets stretching from the east coast to the west coast and reaching an estimated 69 million households.
Miami Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez said the documentary is another way for journalists to enlighten the public.
“We are looking through the prism of the past at an issue that is once again at the center of a national conversation,” Marqués said. “With our partners, including sister newspaper el Nuevo Herald, we are using documentary-style elements as another journalistic tool to tell this important story.”
Besides Los Angeles and Chicago, the film also will be carried by PBS affiliaties in other major metropolitan cities, including Dallas, New York and Atlanta, as well as in smaller markets such as WJSP in Columbus, GA and KAID in Boise, ID.
The film’s title, The Day It Snowed In Miami, serves as a metaphor: the ordinance that sparked the outrage was debated by Miami-Dade County commissioners on an uncharacteristically frigid night and some opponents at the time remarked that the ordinance would pass “when hell freezes over.”
The morning after the ordinance was approved — Jan. 19, 1977 — Miamians woke up to snowflakes for the first and so far only time.
Back then, Dade County was the first metropolitan area in the South to pass an ordinance prohibiting housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexuality. Months later, however, voters repealed the ordinance by a 2-1 margin. It wasn’t until 1998 when Miami-Dade County commissioners approved the original ordinance in yet another dramatic vote.
The passage and subsequent revocation by voters of that ordinance sparked a national movement that brought the topic of gays and lesbians into American households. Some called it a national wake-up call for gay rights activists.
For ticket information on Thursday’s screening in Fort Lauderdale and to see a trailer, visit http://hrld.us/snowscreening.
May 31, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Film, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
Two years ago, transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox appeared at the Miami International Film Festival to promote her movie, Musical Chairs. I spoke with Cox about her life and about her role in that film, playing a paraplegic transgender woman who learns wheelchair ballroom dancing.
Cox is currently co-starring on Netflix's hit Orange Is the New Black.
Thursday – her birthday – Cox landed on the cover of Time magazine. From Cox's Facebook page:
What a wonderful bday present! Yes today is my birthday and I am on the cover of @TIME magazine. I realize this is way bigger than me and about a tipping point in our nation's history where it is no kinger acceptable for trans lives to be stigmatized, ridiculed, criminalized and disregarded. This is for my trans siblings out there and for anyone who has ever been told that who you know yourself to be at your core is not legitimate. You are who you know yourselves to be. #girlslikeus #whereislavernecox #lavernehive
Read the Time story and watch the Miami Herald video!
NEWTOWN, Pa. -- The principal of a Catholic elementary school in suburban Philadelphia is apologizing to parents for having used a photo of celebrity Ellen DeGeneres on an invitation to an Oscars-themed graduation dance.
St. Andrew Elementary School principal Nancy Matteo wrote in an email to parents Tuesday that using the photo was "completely wrong" because DeGeneres "lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church," Philly.com (http://bit.ly/1of34Uk) reported.
The site said it obtained the text of the email, which doesn't specifically mention DeGeneres' sexual orientation but calls her a "poor role model." DeGeneres came out as gay in 1997 and married actress Portia de Rossi in 2008.
"A role model, as defined by Webster's Dictionary, is a person who is unusually effective or inspiring in some social role, job, position, etc.," the email said. "This does not describe her at all. We work so hard to be good role models and then I go and do something stupid!"
DeGeneres hosted the Oscars in 2007 and 2014. The image on the invitation for the June 8 dance shows her holding an Oscar statue accompanied by the phrase "Live from the red carpet."
Dascha Polanco, a co-star of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix, will be a special guest Friday at the Aqua Girl Miami VIP Cocktail Reception on Friday at Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr.
Polanco will also appear at Fuego, Aqua Girl’s Friday night dance party 10 p.m. at Nikki Beach, 1 Ocean Dr.
From Aqua Girl:
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn by way of Miami, Dascha is making waves for herself this year, starring as ‘jailbird sweetheart,’ Dayanara Diaz on Jenji Kohan’s (Creator of Weeds,) newest show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, (Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs, premiering season two on June 6th on Netflix.) Dascha’s other credits include guest spots on UNFORGETTABLE and NYC 22, as well as the role of Carol in David Mamet’s stage production of Oleanna, amongst others. She can also be in seen in the independent drama, GIMME SHELTER opposite Vanessa Hudgens. She can also be seen in the upcoming Adam Sandler dramedy, The Cobbler, where she plays Method Man's love interest.
The Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival has announced its annual "Best of Festival' award winners for 2014. Here's the news release:
THE 16TH ANNUAL MIAMI GAY AND LESBIAN FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS “BEST OF FESTIVAL” AWARDS TO SIX FILMS
MIAMI - May 13, 2014 - The 16th Annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF) wrapped up Sunday, May 11, after featuring more than 60 films from 20 countries and attracting more than 20,000 audience members, actors and filmmakers from around the world. At the elegant closing brunch held at the iconic Biltmore Hotel, MGLFF Interim Executive Director and Board Chair Mark Gilbert and Programming Committee Chair Victor Gimenez led the awards presentation ceremony.
This year the festival celebrated many milestones including increased ticket sales of almost 16% and an improved pedigree of programming with four world premieres, one international premiere, two North American premieres, two U.S. premieres, three East Coast premieres, and several Southeast premieres.
Film awards were given in six categories: Jury Selection Best Short Film, Jury Selection Best Documentary, Jury Selection Best Feature Film, as well as Audience Award Best Short Film, Audience Award Best Documentary and Audience Award Best Feature Film. Participating as the judges at this year’s MGLFF were Board of Directors members Brian Beasley, Larry Hyer, and Susan Solman.
2014 MGLFF Award Winners:
Jury Selection Best Short Film ($200): “Secrets & Toys,” a comedy of errors where a surprise visit, a bumbling bestie, and many years of tight-lipped deception create chaos as well as sexy moments for the protagonists. Directed by Quentin Lee.
Runner-up was “Rosita Lopez for President,” directed by Rachel Goldberg.
Jury Selection Best Documentary ($400): “The Case Against 8,” a behind-the-scenes look inside the historic case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. Directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White.
Runner-up was “South Beach on Heels,” directed by Dmitry Zhitov.
Jury Selection Best Feature Film ($500): “Violette.” Set in the heady cultural milieu of Paris, “Violette” casts a sharp yet sympathetic gaze on the inner workings of French writer Violette Leduc, her fearless writing and the complex love she shared with revered feminist Simone de Beauvoir. Directed by Martin Provost.
Runner-up was “My Straight Son,” directed by Miguel Ferrari.
Audience Award Best Short Film ($200): “Secrets & Toys,” directed by Quentin Lee.
Runner-up was “Barrio Boy,” directed by Dennis Shinners.
Audience Award Best Documentary ($400): “The Case Against 8,” directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White.
Runner-up was “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine,” directed by Michele Josue.
Audience Award Best Feature Film ($500): “My Straight Son,” a dramedy that explores what happens to a gay father when his estranged, close-minded heterosexual son unexpectedly re-enters his life. Directed by Miguel Ferrari.
Runner-up was “The Way He Looks,” directed by Daniel Ribeiro.
Next year’s Festival is scheduled to run April 24th through May 3rd, 2015. To become a member of the MGLFF and receive advance ticket purchasing rights, as well as discounted and complimentary tickets to screenings, visit www.mglff.com. Members receive priority entry, seating benefits, invitations to special events and much more.
May 13, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Film, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Tiffany Fantasia says wearing high heels at work is easy. The hard part is finding them in women’s size 15.
“I'm able to get away with 12 wide or a 13 wide,” says Fantasia, a star drag queen at Palace South Beach, 1200 Ocean Dr., and one of eight performers featured in South Beach On Heels, a new documentary to premiere Friday at the 16th annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
The first time Fantasia tried on a pair of large pumps about 10 years ago, “I just instantly fell into them.”
“Back in the day when I lived on 21st Street in South Beach, me and the girls would walk from our apartment to Twist in five-inch pumps. Now I need a low heel or a platform because I hurt my ankles,” says Fantasia, a 1999 Sunset High School grad. “You try running or jumping, spinning and kicking in heels. It gets the best of you.”
South Beach On Heels director Dmitry Zhitov says Fantasia was the first Palace drag queen he met when he started the film about two years ago.
“Before approaching her, I was a little bit scared,” Zhitov says. “With makeup, heels and hair, she looked unapproachable.”
Fantasia says she was “a little apprehensive at first” before agreeing to be in the movie.
“I thought it was never going to see the light of day,” Fantasia says. “A lot of people approach us about doing photos, doing stories about us. They finish the story but we never get to see the product.”
Zhitov, who discovered drag watching RuPaul on television, told Fantasia he wanted to document more than just the performers at work.
“I wanted to get deeper into their lives, to find out more, to be friends with them,” Zhitov says.
Fantasia said yes and soon the other Palace drag queens jumped on board. “Like the snowball effect, they all wanted to be in it,” Zhitov says.
Zhitov, originally from Siberia, moved to Miami five years ago after working three years on a Carnival cruise ship. His family in Russia still doesn’t know he’s gay.
“Making this film opened a lot of topics for my family,” says Zhitov, 33. “It was easier for me to talk about gays and bisexuals and transsexuals with my mom.”
Zhitov lives with partner Jose Canto in a highrise near downtown Miami and has shared a few clips from the film with his mother.
“She loved it,” according to Zhitov, but also avoids asking him why he made the movie.
Luz Vallejo is the opposite. She attends son Eddie’s drag performances and says she’s “very proud and his No. 1 fan.”
“I feel amazing. I feel part of the fabulousness being part of his life,” says Colombian-born Vallejo. Her son is another Palace star, Miss Noel Leon.
It took a while for Vallejo to accept having a son who performs drag.
“She was afraid of the rejection I would get from the world, not that I was gay,” Leon says.
Soon after learning Leon’s profession, Vallejo told all her friends. “Before anybody calls me or anything, I want them to know this is what my son is going to do and I support him 100 percent,” she said.
Leon says she’s luckier than most to have such a “brave” mom.
“It’s all I know,” Leon says. “When I hear all these other stories about parents not accepting their kids, it really breaks my heart. Every time I see my mom in the club or with me, I feel I have to share her with all the other kids who don’t get that love or support in their families. That’s why I introduce her. So she can be their mom for just a second.”
Leon says she hasn’t seen the film but hopes it shows “the real side of our lives.”
“A lot of people think we are divas all the time or that we lead outrageous lives. It’s just work,” says Leon, who performs about 30 hours a week in drag and also works as a part-time studio make-up and hair stylist.
South Beach On Heels, which in July will be screened at the 2014 Madrid International Film Festival, also features Palace drag queens Tp Lords, Tlo Ivy, Shanaya Bright, Latrice Royale, Missy Meyakie LePaige and Vinna Rouge.
“They invited me into the dressing room. They don’t invite everyone. There are a lot of secrets about drag,” Zhitov says. “They invited me to their houses, their homes. I started meeting their families, friends, drag families. Not every queen is supported by her family, so they create their own families. Drag families. I was amazed how supportive the drag families are. Sometimes more supportive than the blood family.”
Zhitov calls drag “an art form.”
“They don’t just give us a show, they teach us a lot,” he says. “Any event, like Gay Pride or AIDS Walk, the drag queens are always there for free. They support the whole community. They show their faces, they brighten up the party and they help to raise a lot of money for good causes.”
Most of the Palace drag performers live as men in their off-stage lives, but a few are in the process of gender transition.
“It’s challenging for society to understand all of this,” Zhitov says. “That’s what I want to show with this film. The respect and acceptance.”
It’s not easy being a drag queen, says Henry Williams —Tiffany Fantasia’s real-life persona.
Williams, a clothing merchandiser by day, prefers not to immediately tell boyfriends about his night job.
“I have sex with them first, then I tell them,” Williams says. “If they meet you on a first night and you tell them you do drag, they become uncomfortable a lot of times. They start feeding the stereotype that you want to have sex like that.
“After I've had sex with them, it’s easier to tell them that it's not all about the drag. Surprisingly enough, that's what they talk about all the time. The drag starts to take over the relationship. Whether I like it or not, Tiffany is bigger than Henry will ever be.”
IF YOU GO
South Beach On Heels will be screened 9:45 p.m. Friday at Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr. The screening is the Made In Miami Spotlight presentation of the 16th annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which closes Saturday night. Afterward, the festival will host a High Heel Party at the garden. Tickets are $15 for the film, $20 for the party and $30 for both. www.mglff.com
May 07, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Fashion, Film, Florida, Food and Drink, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Music, Palm Beach County, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
HBO on Monday screened its upcoming gay-marriage documentary, The Case Against 8, at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Afterward, festival goers participated in a panel discussion featuring Florida marriage plaintiffs Richard Milstein and Eric Hankin, and attorneys Elizabeth Schwartz, Daniel Tilley and moderator Paul Orshan.
Tuesday at the festival:
The David Dance, 6:30 p.m., O Cinema Miami Shores at MTC, 9806 NE 2nd Ave. Party to follow at Magnum, 709 NE 79th St.
What Women Want, women's short subjects, 7 p.m., Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave.
The Dog, 9 p.m., Miami Beach Cinematheque, 1130 Washington Ave.
Snails in the Rain, 9 p.m., O Cinema Miami Shores at MTC, 9806 NE 2nd Ave.
Der Samurai, 10:15 p.m., Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr.
May 06, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Film, Florida, Food and Drink, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Marriage, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Palm Beach County, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Gay actor-playwright Ben Rimalower on Friday channels his inner LuPone in Patti Issues, an Off-Broadway show about his obsession with the Evita star, and Rimalower's real-life relationship with his closeted gay father.
"My obsession with Patti LuPone had a lot to do with the way I survived," Rimalower says of his childhood in Long Island, New York.
Friday night, Rimalower performs his 55-minute play at Edison Farrow's The Cabaret South Beach.
Rimalower, 37, says that has a youngster, "I was very mesmerized by the Evita commercials that were on TV, seemingly constantly."
"When I was 13 years old, becoming obsessed with Broadway musicals, Evita was familiar to me. I felt like was connecting with something myself in a meaningful way. It’s taken me all these years to understand that."
His childhood was rough.
"My father had such histrionics, that it took something like Patti to hold my attention," Rimalower said. "There are a lot of reasons why he was mentally disturbed. He could not fit into the image of being a gay man. He was a doctor who came from a nice Jewish family in New Jersey."
Rimalower's parents split when he was 9 and his dad came out of the closet.
"My father had a terrible drug problem. He felt his life was falling apart. There were suicide attempts and tantrums that happened in front of my sister and me. Sometimes at us. It was very scary. He tried to kill himself in front of us. it was deeply traumatizing and it took me decades to get over that."
That's about when young Rimalower discovered LuPone.
"When i got around to buying that album at the time, it was different. It’s like sports fans: This is my team, this is my girl. I was so invested with Patti LuPone. i would lie in bed at night listening to Evita and sing. I was channeling that."
Soon, Rimalower "experienced [LuPone's] triumphs and tragedies as my own," such as when Andrew Lloyd Weber fired her from the London cast of Sunset Boulevard, before the show transferred to Broadway.
The first time he met his idol was "as a fan at the stage door getting her autograph."
Soon, he got a backstage job with the company of Sweeney Todd, working with LuPone.
"Patti loved me," he says. "I was a 24-year-old gay boy who was obsessed with her."
Rimalower has written and directed several shows. Two years ago, he conceived Patti Issues.
"With Patti, i worked through what was upsetting to me about my father," he says. "I had to figure out a way to weave these two stories together."
Rimalower starred in Patti Issues for about a year, and since then has toured in the show.
A-list producer-director Richard Jay-Alexander, who on Saturday directed Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall, is presenting Patti Issues in South Beach.
"I just loved it," Jay-Alexander says of the show, which he first saw during its run in New York. "I was mesmerized. It’s so brilliantly devised. I understand the obsession. ... I said I wanted to bring it to Florida."
IF YOU GO
Ben Rimalower performs Patti Issues 8 p.m. Friday at The Cabaret South Beach, 233 12th St., Miami Beach. Tickets $20 each, plus two-drink minimum. Click here for tickets.
May 05, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Film, Florida, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Music, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sabrina (1953), written and directed by Billy Wilder, is a romance about two wealthy brothers who've each fallen in love with the family chauffeur's daughter.
The Hepburn classics each retail for $20.