Palette Magazine

The MiFo LGBT Film Festival returns

By John Dangaran

Héctor Medina in VIVA, a Magnolia Pictures release.
Héctor Medina in VIVA, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo: Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

The film award season has come to a close, but those in the industry have been hard at work looking to what’s ahead. And whether you are promoting a movie, closing deals or just one of the many who love to watch, the MiFo LGBT Film Festival has plenty to offer in its 18th Miami Edition — taking place April 22–May 1.

The first of two annual MiFo events — after the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF) and Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (FLGLFF) joined forces last year — the line up boasts 39 feature films, 14 documentaries and 31 shorts that represent talent from 28 countries for its Miami Edition alone.

This first installment of the festival is set to feature a number of world premiers, including A Holy Mess (En Underbar Javla Jul), The Tchaikovsky Files, Girl on Girl, Flatbush Luck, Safety First: The Movie, Uncle Gloria: One Helluva Ride, Fatima Queen of the Night (Fátima y el parque de la fraternidad) and The M.O.B. Wives of Richmond — by local filmmaker Dmitry Zhitov.

But the festival already got a soft start with a few showings that were part of the Glow Miami monthly screening series. VIVA, which was Ireland’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2016 Academy Awards, tells the story of young hairdresser Jesus (Héctor Medina) who works at a Havana nightclub and dreams of being one of the drag performers on the stage at the club. Between his relationship with his mentor, Mamá (Luis Alberto García), and the sudden return of his estranged father (Jorge Perugorría), VIVA becomes a story about dreams, love and what it means to be a family. The film has already garnered recognition, and was the official selection at both the Telluride Film Festival and the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

The two other Glow Miami films were Daddy, which features Colin McCormack (Gerald McCullouch) playing a man who has everything but love; and You’re Killing Me, the slasher comedy about George (Jeffery Self) and his boyfriend Joe (Matthew McKelligon), who likes to kill people. 

As in the past, film entries compete for the six Jury Awards up for grabs, including: Best Feature Film, Runner Up to Best Feature Film, Best Documentary, Runner Up to Best Documentary, Best Short Film and Runner Up to Best Short Film.

The jury — commonly comprised of festival programmers and filmmakers — is divided into two categories: Narrative Feature and Documentary Feature.

Actors, directors and producers are certain to make their appearances on opening night at the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road. Other venues are scattered throughout Miami and include Regal Cinemas South Beach, Miami Beach Cinematheque, O Cinema Wynwood and O Cinema Miami Shores @ MTC.

For more information, including locations and showtimes, or to buy tickets in advance visit the festival website at