Scene: Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Scene 4: What Girls Like (Shorts)
Affinity Screening and Women’s Spotlight Party
Colony Theater, Miami Beach
May 3, 2008

It wouldn’t be a major film festival without a selection of short films. The women’s shorts program was quite eclectic, with six films representing everything from cute comedy to outright spoof and personal documentary.

One of the highlights of the program was the wonderfully polished In Twilight’s Shadow, an action/sci-fi piece that boasts incredible special effects and an amazingly good-looking cast. The film centers on Carlisle, a vampire-like lesbian as she saves her lover from the clutches of other vampire-like creatures, kicking all kinds of ass in the process.

The easiest comparison would be to Buffy the Vampire Slayer or even Underworld, but there’s a sense of mythology and history that’s begging for longer than 12 minutes of running time. Fortunately, director Tina Scorzafava revealed in a Q&A session after the program that she’s currently in the process of turning the project into a feature-length film.

I met Scorzafava just after the screening, and she seemed pleased with the audience reception. In fact, one woman in the Q&A called out that Carlisle was way hotter than Buffy, a sure sign of acceptance. One of her main goals with the piece is to show that it really is possible to do mainstream, effects-heavy action with gay characters — something I think we can all get behind.

After the shorts, the crowds came streaming in for the night’s feature event, the world festival premiere of Affinity. The film is a 19th-century costume drama, adapted from the Sarah Waters novel of the same name, about a wealthy young woman who becomes a “visitor” at a women’s jail and falls for a prisoner claiming to be a spiritual medium. Look for my review of the film in the next few weeks on AfterEllen.com.

Zoe Tapper in Affinity

Finally, most of the audience made it to the Maxine for the final women’s after-party. The place was jumping — much more exciting than my last trip there. Lesbians lounged around the hotel’s funky bamboo pool while the cocktails flowed.

And there was a relaxed vibe about the evening — this was the last night after all. There was a little less networking than at Fuse, and a bit more conversation about the films of the day and the women’s events overall. Aside from a few minor quibbles about some of the shorts, everyone I talked to seemed impressed by the features as a whole, particularly The World Unseen and The Edge of Heaven. It would appear that the coordinators’ efforts to appeal to lesbian/bi women worked quite nicely.

In the end, the festival experience was incredible — and exhausting. It’s a 10-day bacchanal mixed with a serious celebration of queer films from around the world. It turns out that there was no need for all that free Tylenol PM — I slept the whole way back.