31st Annual (2020) Award Winners

The 31st annual (& 1st virtual) edition of the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) held its virtual awards ceremony online on Saturday night, October 17, 2020. It was streamed as part of the Closing Night presentation of the film Two Of Us.  Derek Horne announced the Jury Award recipients which were interspersed with pre-recorded acceptance speeches by all of the award-recipients. The Audience Awards were announced after the screening as a post-roll video once all the final ballots were tallied.

Jury Award for Best Feature Film


Winner:  Two of Us (Deux)
Director:  Filippo Meneghetti
2019, France, French language with English subtitles

Tender lesbian love story. Edge-of-your-seat thriller. Wickedly amusing dark comedy. Director Filippo Meneghetti delicately blends disparate genres in a grippingly unique tale about “open-door policy” neighbors, Mrs. Dorn and Mrs. Girard, who as gay lovers for decades, now want to escape the binding shadows of secrecy to make a home together in Rome. While “leading an authentic life” may sound noble and proud, turning one’s life upside down by the simple gesture of moving into one apartment can be an act of unspeakable courage. When a medical crisis comes crashing down and family conflicts dangerously escalate, the two women are caught in an unfathomable struggle for survival. Actors, Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier deliver exquisite performances in a bold statement about the sexual and emotional vitality of “women of a certain age.” The dramatic twists and turns of their characters’ heroic efforts to rescue each other show that love hurts but ultimately triumphs.

(Drama/Romance, 99 min, 2019, France, French language with English subtitles)

Director: Filippo Meneghetti; Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Martine Chevallier, Léa Drucker, Jérôme Varanfrain, Muriel Bénazéraf, Augustin Reynes

Jury Award for Best Feature Documentary


Winner:  Transformistas
Director:  Chad Hahne
2020, Cuba, Spanish language with English subtitles

Filmed covertly without permission from the Cuban government, this intimately epic documentary fluctuates between the past and the present, contrasting the struggles that different generations of drag queens have faced in their country. From the early 1990’s when they faced violent persecution from a government that considered them a product of capitalism -- to the present day when there is more state-support but also a treacherous rivalry fueled by the Miss Cuba competition. Samantha, Cynthia, Omega, and Blaccucino are just some of the colorful characters that play a part in this awe-inspiring story of sacrifice, resilience and commitment to the art form of drag.

(Documentary, 84 min, 2020, Cuba, Spanish language with English subtitles)

Director: Chad Hahne


Jury Award for Best Short Film


Winner:  Fabiu
Director:  Stefan Langthaler
2020, Austria, German language with English subtitles)

When 80-year-old retiree Arthur hires a male Hungarian care worker to help with his wife, he experiences feelings of desire and suppressed longing.

(Drama, 30 min, 2020, Austria, German language with English subtitles)

Director: Stefan Langthaler; Cast: Günter Tolar, Kristóf Gellén

Jury Award for Best Short Film Documentary


Winner:  Tall Tales with True Queens
Director:  Kristina Budelis, Leandro Badalotti
2020, USA

At Drag Queen Story Hour, a controversial children's event series, a tale of pride and prejudice is told.

(Documentary, 10 min, 2020, USA)

Director: Kristina Budelis, Leandro Badalotti

Audience Award for Best Feature Film


Winner: Stage Mother
Director: Thom Fitzgerald
2019, Canada

Thom Fitzgerald has been making artistically audacious and emotionally daring films for decades -- starting with his auspicious debut in 1997 with The Hanging Garden. His films consistently portray characters who operate on the outside of society’s margins and the support they get from their tenuous familial alliances. His latest film Stage Mother is no exception as it delivers the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy for any misfit who longs for their parent’s unconditional approval. Jackie Weaver delivers a charming performance as Maybelline, a conservative church choir director from Red Vine, Texas, who inherits her late son’s drag club in San Francisco. Once she gets over her shock at opening up Pandora’s Box (also the name of the club), she gets comfortable in the Castro District, and ends up mothering all the drag queens, her son’s boyfriend (played by Adrian Grenier), and his B.F.F. (played by Lucy Liu). This feel-good, laugh-out-loud, sing-along comedy proves that it is never too late to change your mind, change your views, and change your life.

(Comedy/Drama, 93 min, 2019, Canada)

Director: Thom Fitzgerald; Cast: Jackie Weaver, Adrian Grenier, Lucy Liu, Mya Taylor, Jackie Beat

Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary


Winner:  Ahead of the Curve
Director:  Jen Rainin
2020, USA

An inspirational tribute to the fascinating life and career of Franco Stevens, creator of the ground-breaking lesbian magazine Curve, which generated a world-wide sense of community and positive visibility for gay women. With a fist full of credit cards, a lucky run at the horse track, and chutzpah for days, Franco launched Deneuve in the early 90’s but eventually had to rename the magazine after Catherine’s infamous lawsuit. Decades later, in the wake of a disabling injury and the changing publishing industry, Franco learns that Curve will fold within the year and questions the relevance of the magazine in the face of accelerating threats to LGBTQ+ community. To forge a path forward, Franco reaches out to young women working in today's queer spaces who confidently express what they need today and celebrate the connotation of the L-word that has transformed from sullied to sacred.

(Documentary, 98 min, 2020, USA)

Director: Jen Rainin

Audience Award for Best Short Film


Winner:  Wonder
Director:  Javier Molina
2019, USA

An 11-year-old kid growing up in “the hood” secretly dreams of trick-or-treating as Wonder Woman for Halloween.

(Drama, 16 min, 2019, USA)

Director: Javier Molina; Cast: Benji Seigel, Gabriel Furman, Nico Bustamante

Audience Award for Best Short Documentary


Winner:  Take Me To Promo
Director:  Andrew Moir
2019, Canada

Featuring the high school prom stories of queer people aged 17 to 88, this documentary captures 70 years of LGBTQ social progress through this adolescent milestone.

(Documentary, 21 min, 2019, Canada)

Director: Andrew Moir

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards

The Friends of the Festival Fund was established in 2009 through the estate of Alan Ira Dusowitz. This endowment trust helps fund film programming content for TIGLFF.  In honor of Alan, TIGLFF will give annual awards for Best Emerging Film-maker in the categories of Full Length Feature Film and Short Film.



Danielle Lessovitz for Port Authority
2019, USA

The NYC Port Authority is a mecca dedicated to getting people where they need to go but when Paul, a young Midwestern probation dodger with a damaged past and a chip on his shoulder, first arrives here - he’s got nowhere to go.  His desperate search for a sense of belonging finds him reluctantly working for crooked movers who prey on the poor. But he is also secretly in love with Wye, a young trans woman whose tight-knit band of kiki ballroom performers exude the love, excitement, and stability he craves.  Caught in the rivalry between his homophobic co-workers and her inclusive, protective trans community, Paul and Wye seek refuge in their forbidden love, aptly staged on a fire escape “balcony” and reminiscent of the warring factions in Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story. Portraying the star-crossed lovers are the boyishly handsome Fionn Whitehead (lead actor from Dunkirk) and the strikingly beautiful Leyna Bloom, the first trans actress to star in a competition film at the Cannes Film Festival. Showcasing Manhattan from a streetwise viewpoint, writer/director Danielle Lessovitz has crafted a gritty yet graceful film with the help of executive producer Martin Scorsese.

(Drama/Romance, 94 min, 2019, USA)

Director: Danielle Lessovitz; Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Leyna Bloom, McCaul Lombardi, Louisa Krause



Erin C. Buckley for CC Dances the Go-Go
2020, USA

One night at the local Go-Go bar, Nicky encounters the woman of her dreams.

(Comedy, 11 min, 2020, USA)

Director: Erin C. Buckley; Cast: Aysan Celik, Rebecca Whitehurst


Narrative Feature


Winner:  And Then We Danced
Director: Levan Akin
2019, Sweden, Georgia, France

Jury statement:

“The main character’s passion for dance, despite outside judgement that he is not masculine enough in the traditional Georgian dance world, makes for a strong narrative in this rarely seen view into Georgian culture. The strength, passion, and ability to be fully himself is remarkable.” (Kathleen Mullen)

“A dancer - played exuberantly by Levan Gelbakhiani - finds confidence in himself and his direction in life in Levan Akin's quiet, assured film.” (Jim Farmer)


Runner Up: The Ground Beneath My Feet  (Der Boden unter den Füßen)
Director: Marie Kreutzler
2019, Austria

Jury statements:

“A searing story about mental illness. The main actress is remarkable in her role as a lesbian who is dealing with her sister’s mental health as well as her own.” (Kathleen Mullen)

“Marie Kreutzer's beautifully controlled drama deals with a young woman whose professional life runs smoothly and efficiently, but she eventually realizes she can't control her personal life as tightly. A spellbinding performance by lead actress Valerie Pachner shows us that turmoil.” (Jim Farmer)


Honorable Mention:  Zen in the Ice Rift  (Zen sul ghiaccio sottile)
Director: Margherita Ferri
2018, Italy

Jury statements:

“Zen is a sensitive and strong character who perseveres in the face of discrimination and bullying. Zen’s focus on who they are despite their struggles is what makes this film so compelling.” (Kathleen Mullen)

“An absorbing and satisfying story with a lead character rising above the obstacles life has unfairly thrown at them.” (Jim Farmer)

Documentary Feature


Winner: Vision Portraits
Director: Rodney Evans
2019, USA

Jury statement:

“A visually beautiful film about blindness. Realism, great cinematography and sound design mixed with moments of visual abstraction. We follow a slice of the creative process for 4 compelling artists (including Dir Rodney Evans). Evans also skillfully connects sight impairment as a form of Otherness through the film.”


Runner Up (Tie): Changing the Game
Director: Michael Barnett
2019, USA

Jury statement:

“It is very inspiring to see strong, brave, young people taking a stand for transgender rights within competitive high school sports. As much of a sports or issue film as this doc is, it is also a portrait of three families. We found the portrayal of Mack and his grandmother’s relationship particularly moving. Great coverage and editing.”


Runner Up (Tie): Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America
Director: Tom Shepard
2019, USA/Lebanon/Canada

Jury statement:

“We don’t often get to see stories like these told in feature films, so this is a very special one. Expert story-building and editing combined with empathy. The film draws the viewer into the states of uncertainty and imbalance of each of the four subjects as they all work towards stability and navigate the complexities of immigration, home-making, and separation.”


Honorable Mention: Queering the Script
Director: Gabrielle Zilkha
2019, Canada/USA

Jury statement:

“This doc is an often fun, sometimes disturbing look at queer/female representation (or lack thereof) and queer fandoms of popular culture. We read lots of articles and books about the subject, but we never see a doc quite like this — yay!  We appreciate the mix of voices — experts, makers, actors, and fans.”

Short Film


Winner: My World in Yours  (Min värld i din)
Director: Jenifer Malmqvist
2019, Sweden

Jury statements:

“Jenifer Malmqvist's film proves monumental through its very modestly. We get to know its refugee protagonist Shams quickly, seeing her struggle to find work and posturing for her partner Stella's affection. It is this very empathy for her everyday struggles that makes her exceptional circumstances—as well as Stella's process of coming to terms with them—so deeply affecting. The skillful Swedish drama evades the sensationalism of its geopolitical topic through an intimate, individual scope that proves crucially human and all the more memorable.” (Mitchell Goodrich)

“In a seemingly stable Scandinavian world, the filmmakers take us into an earthquake of forced globalization, deftly wrapping our thoughts around the heart and mind of main character, Shams. In spite of the constant onslaught of the news media, the filmmakers succeed in making Shams our sibling, our neighbor, ourselves.” (Melissa Bisagni)


Runner Up: Things That Happen in the Bathroom
Edward Hancox

Jury statements:

“Things That Happen in the Bathroom - A film I can't get out of my head. A complex performance by a young person that captures the awkwardness of youth and longing, wanting to understand but not knowing enough, returning again and again to the first environment, water, for comfort, reassurance, elucidation, peace.” (Melissa Bisagni)

“Softened by the grain of its 35mm filming, the space defined in Edward Hancox's superb one-reel character study is expertly defined and worthy of extravagant description. From its opening shot, the delicate dinginess of the soap-splattered shower curtain gives off a palpable sense of warmth and security. Whether drenched by the sunset or romantically lit by moody purple bulbs, the titular bathroom transforms in tandem with its young owner. As he practices lines in the mirror, bathes idly in the tub, and learns to respond to uncomfortable moments during intimacy, the bathroom remains a safe place for experimentation, routine, and recovery alike. A wonderful short that holds us well into the credits, illustrating the feeling of finding oneself and the comfort of having a space to do it.” (Mitchell Goodrich)

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards

The Friends of the Festival Fund was established in 2009 through the estate of Alan Ira Dusowitz. This endowment trust helps fund film programming content for TIGLFF.  In honor of Alan, TIGLFF will give annual awards for Best Emerging Film-maker in the categories of Full Length Feature Film and Short Film.


Feature Film Winner

Lucio Castro for End of the Century
2019, Argentina

“End of the Century is a powerful exploration of love and attraction between two men over time and long distance as they find each other again and again. Lucio Castro's debut film is a bold love story that - unexpectedly - spans a few decades. It’s haunting and complex.”


Short Film Winner

Edward Hancox for Things That Happen in the Bathroom
2019, USA

“The space defined in Edward Hancox's superb one-reel character study is expertly defined and worthy of extravagant description. Hancox captures the awkwardness of youth and longing, wanting to understand but not knowing enough, returning again and again to the first environment, water, for comfort, reassurance, elucidation, peace.”


29th Annual (2018) Audience Awards


Best Narrative Feature

Director: Kevin O’Brien, 2018,
Lakeland FL/USA

Kevin O'Brien has lovingly created a quintessential modern American story with At the End of the Day. We are at a point in history where contemporary Christians are grappling with LGBTQ issues as much as queer folks are dealing with their relationships to religion. It's a key issue for these times, and watching this excellent cast of sympathetic, complex characters is such a great way to start the conversations and to give folks a point of relatability. At the End of the Day gets to the root of these issues in an entertaining cinematic tale that manages to be funny and compelling at the same time that it is challenging and profound. This is a story that our audiences can relate to and have been hungry for. (KJ Mohr)


Best Documentary Feature

Director:  Jeff Kaufman, 2018, USA

Director: Caroline Berler, 2018, USA


Best Short Film  (It's a TIE)

WAFFLES                                                                 GETTING STARTED
Director: Foster Wilson, 2017, USA                  Director: Andrea Meyerson, 2018, USA


29th Annual (2018) Jury Awards

Narrative Feature  (It's a TIE)


(Tämä Hetki Kaislikossa)
Director: Mikko Makela, 2017, Finland/UK

For bold, contemporary filmmaking. Director Mikko Makela’s beautiful lush film shows a coming together of two men from different places. (Mary Guzmán)


An incredibly intimate portrayal of instant connection so beautifully realized and tenderly acted that it's almost like the audience is a voyeur. Quite possibly the most erotically charged film in the LGBTQ festival circuit, "A Moment in the Reeds" is very sexy and yet still poignant, timely and relevant in the issues that it covers. (Michael Gamilla)


Director: Madeleine Olnek, 2017, USA

For completely unique, extraordinary filmmaking. Writer/Director Madeleine Olnek gives love to Emily Dickinson, in her witty, funny, informative film. (Mary Guzmán)


Victorian comedy and Emily Dickinson do not ever belong in the same sentence. But the film manages to make that happen. (Michael Gamilla)

Documentary Feature


Director:  PJ Raval, 2018, USA/Philippines

For powerfully bringing a story of American colonialism to light through the story of a murdered transgender woman, Jennifer Laude, and the three women, (her mother, a transgender journalist, and an attorney) determined to seek justice for Jennifer. (Yvonne Welbon)

Call Her Ganda sheds light on a horrifically ugly incident with extraordinary cinematic artistry. Balancing the personal with the political, this film goes beyond a lurid hate crime to reveal how one country’s imperialistic attitude towards another can lead to the irresponsible, disrespectful and lethal behavior that lies at the root of the problem. (Derek Horne)

Short Film


Director:  Marianne Farley, 2018, Canada

With sensitive and quiet power, Marguerite’s narrative reflects on the possibilities of self-actualization and self-realization, even at the end of life. Nurse Rachel (Sandrine Bisson) and the title character (Beatrice Picard) whom she cares for are brilliantly portrayed as multi-dimensional and complex: a rare feat for a short film. (Joanna Razcynska)

An elderly woman, inwardly very much alive in her final years, finds an unexpected and rewarding connection with her compassionate young caregiver. With exquisite tenderness, this gem of a film suggests the essential vitality of memory, even when inflected with regret, and shows us the satisfying solace that a simple, loving gesture can provide.  (Keith Roberts)

Runner-Up (It's a TIEe):

 Reinout Hellenthal, 2017, Netherlands

What appears initially as routine teen-age angst is poignantly shown to be something far more profound. This small film is a revelation, capturing the anguish of gender dissonance in a way that powerfully depicts its particular pain, yet connects to the outcast experience that all in our community share. Something About Alex packs an emotional wallop, and reminds us that, even in short-film format, movie-making is an indispensable art form. (Keith Roberts)

 Katia Repina & Carla Moral, 2016, USA/Spain/Ukraine

The expansive and gorgeous cinematography compliments the extraordinary stories. The film’s global perspective and selection of voices is really remarkable. (Joanna Razcynska)

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards

The Friends of the Festival Fund was established in 2009 through the estate of Alan Ira Dusowitz. This endowment trust helps fund film programming content for TIGLFF.  In honor of Alan, TIGLFF will give annual awards for Best Emerging Film-maker in the categories of Full Length Feature Film and Short Film.


Feature Film Winner



Short Film Winner



28th Annual (2017) Audience Awards

Best Narrative Feature


Best Documentary Feature


Best Short Film


2017 Jury Awards

Narrative Feature

Director: Dome Karukoski, 2017, FINLAND

Tom of Finland shows how Touko Laaksonen’s real life experiences influenced his art. A compelling film on a largely unknown figure in LGBT history. (David Johnson)

Tom of Finland is a gorgeously textured film about the artist whose work prescribed the gay male standard of beauty and fetish fashion of the 1970's and beyond. In Touko (Tom) Laaksonen's illustrations, authoritarian figures are not despotic gay-bashing bullies, but rather hot and heroic guides of love. In spite of a flamboyant subject matter, the movie maintains a beautiful minimalism of detail and dialogue, depicting Tom as an unassuming man whose private need to render an imaginary utopia dripping with benevolent authority figures engaging in homoerotic acts, unknowingly spurred an empowered mass rebellion against repression and shame on another continent. In the film's culminating moment, Tom realizes that far away from the room in which he has been secretly toiling, he has achieved a sort of super-hero status. The film is thus more than a genius biopic, but is also a dramatic fantasy in which the viewer is invited to hope that someday an ordinary life might prove to be something more extraordinary than one could have envisioned. (Karin Wolf)

Runner-Up: THE WOUND
Director:  John Trengrove, 2017, South Africa

Interesting look at aboriginal culture and how it continues to survive in modern, urban environments near and around Johannesburg. (David Johnson)

The Wound is a very important film from a promising new director, John Trengrove. The story is set during a philosophical detente between the past and the future, the city and the wilderness, conformity and individuation, a tenuous peace occurring within the space and time of a Xhosa rite of passage ceremony. To a foreign viewer, the shock of witnessing male circumcision taking place without sterile conditions and anesthesia might seem a brutal price to pay for passage, but to keep perspective, it is helpful to consider our own coming of age rituals centered around unsupervised, disorganized, isolated, unceremonious roulette experiences that often result in death from suicide, murder, or some drug or alcohol related tragedy. From that lens, it seems enviable that in South African rural Xhosa communities, boys are collectively escorted into manhood by adult males via time-tested cultural rituals. Besides its importance as a ground-breaking film that provides the world of viewers the opportunity to witness a culture other than their own, The Wound is outstanding in its depiction of sexuality between men as a natural expression of love and desire. Ironically, as the filmmaker is outing this secret Xhosa ritual, the charged tension throughout this film is the threat of exposure of the central gay relationship by a young man for whom this particular experience of transition stands in agonizing contradiction to modern values that are powerfully alluring him away from the traditions of his ancestors. (Karin Wolf)

Documentary Feature

Director:  Catherine Gund & Daresha Kyi, 2017, USA

The documentary beautifully captures the intimacy and emotion of Chavela, mirroring the vibrant spirit of her life and music. (PJ Raval)

Fantastic old photographs and wonderful story work by the filmmakers to remind us of the great Chavela and her lasting influence. The film, tracing her adventurous rise and drunken fall, is filled with unfinished stories, old lovers. A great attempt to pluck Chavela from fading memory. (Prudence Browne)

Short Film

Ryan White, 2016, USA

CRUISING ELSEWHERE is a formally daring - and thoroughly embodied - exploration of gay desire and the utopian possibility of that desire existing unabashedly in public. (Jules Rosskam) 

CRUISING ELSEWHERE is a gorgeous film, period. Through its narration as well as the formal choices the director makes, there's both a reclamation of a hidden history, as well as a reckoning with ghosts that persist in the present. (Nzingha Kendall)

 Fabien Gorgeart, 2016, France

The acting is extraordinary and the period costumes and locations synch perfectly with the outstanding cinematography. (Nzingha Kendall)

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards

The Friends of the Festival Fund was established in 2009 through the estate of Alan Ira Dusowitz. This endowment trust helps fund film programming content for TIGLFF.  In honor of Alan, TIGLFF will give annual awards for Best Emerging Film-maker in the categories of Full Length Feature Film and Short Film.

Feature Film Winner


Dating My Mother has great dialogue and very real characters with a really interesting family dynamic. Cute, funny, real. An accomplishment in directing. (David Johnson)

Short Film Winner


FOREIGN LOVERS captures the immediacy of desire and connection, especially when these things emerge simultaneously and without warning. It speaks to the ways in which lovers can open us to the world in new and life-affirming ways. (Jules Rosskam)

What I really enjoyed about the film was how timely it is in depicting the frustrations that people have with trying to connect. While it seems that technology has facilitated our ability to connect more often with more people, FOREIGN LOVERS shows how these connections can also be profoundly alienating. The chance meeting of the two main characters presents an opportunity for a real-life connection. What struck me was the suggestion that such connections don't necessarily have to last forever; nonetheless the fleeting nature of their encounter is not a reflection of its depth. (Nzingha Kendall)


27th Annual (2016) Audience Awards

Best Narrative Feature


Best Documentary Feature


Best Short Film


2016 Jury Awards

Narrative Feature

Winner: PARIS 05:59: THÉO & HUGO
Director:  Olivier Ducastel et Jacques Martineau, 2016

THÉO AND HUGO emblemize contemporary relationships and offer hope for love in a new era. This film captures the essence of limerence and demonstrates that that fleeting and involuntary feeling of naive hopefulness will never die. (Karin Wolf)

THÉO AND HUGO has an impressive, atmospheric production design. The mood is sometimes dark, but the lighting is neon. It has an artfully stylized neo-noir feel, which is appropriate to the sensitive, yet provocative subject matter. I love the real-time development of this casual affair. The stylized, formalistic depiction of sex in the club is juxtaposed with a messier reality of an interaction that immediately follows in “the real world.” Sex in the club is straight-forward, carnal, and somewhat exploitative, yet it feels more personal and romantic (tender?) than I feel we’ve seen in many previous queer films. It comes off as more sensual than is probably accurate, but that is consistent with the post-coital discussion of “pure love creation” and so it’s rather refreshing. What’s euphoric and romantic quickly becomes strained and complicated by very honest and present concerns. The fellas have authentic chemistry, which is too often missing in contemporary gay cinema. The lead actors are appealing, particularly Geoffrey Couet as Théo, who is both a sexy and adorably vulnerable presence onscreen. Overall, THÉO AND HUGO is a fulfilling cinematic experience and is an important story for our time. (Joseph Cook)

Runner-Up: ARIANNA
Director:  Carlo Lavagna, 2015

There is something in our primitively wired brains that is responsible for our desire to categorize. But as essentialized notions of sex and gender have blown up in our collective faces, we are recognizing the damage of this urgent drive and how it has served to reinforce sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. The medical pathologization of intersex individuals is a tragic consequence of society's rigid allegiance to binary notions of sex and gender. What I think is most insidious about the "well intended” decisions made by Arianna's parents and her doctors, is that in their act of concealing information about her body and the invasive measures to which they went to alter Arianna to fit their ideals, they deeply deceived her. Discovering that the two people she trusted most in the world lied to her about something so fundamental to her existence shattered her reality and her belief in her own perception and experience. It gutted me to watch this film as I felt the pain of every deception I've ever survived. But survive she will, you see it in the beautiful blue eyes of Ondina Quadri whose acting is enough justification to make this film a TIGLFF award winner. And then there is the fact that even if Carlo Navagna had made this film about making pasta, it is gorgeous enough to eat. (Karin Wolf)

ARIANNA is an absorbing tale of transformation –of birth and rebirth. At less than 80 minutes, it is also efficiently told. Ondina Quadri, in the lead, gives a brilliant performance of the perplexing, deliberate, and thoughtful young Arianna. The actress’ eyes mesmerize and her body language conveys multitudes. The Italian lake house setting is gorgeous and serene (you can almost smell the basil!), but is marked by primitive threat, too. The lush setting is a smart contrast to the emotional storm and inner turmoil the characters experience. Arianna is at impressionable age where she is trying to construct a young adult life in relation to her past and her fading childhood. The movie’s rumination on memory (and even ghosts) complements the plot. ARIANNA’S themes and images resonate and the film generates a slow burning intensity as it proceeds. (Joseph Cook)

Documentary Feature

Winner: REAL BOY
Director:  Shaleece Haas, 2016

REAL BOY earns the award for the brutal honesty of Bennett and his mother, and for the film’s excellent editing, which foregrounded the abstract concept of the power of music. (Samantha Mitchell)

REAL BOY illustrates the complex relationships between a young transman, whom I think many LGBTQ people could identify with, and his biological and chosen family. The relationships with his friends, his mentor and the support they offer while his mother begins to come around is uniquely well told. (Jaimes Mayhew)

Director: Jennifer Abod, 2016

THE PASSIONATE PURSUITS OF ANGELA BOWEN is inspiring, touching and important. This film provides a gritty, beautiful portrait of a person who needs to be documented, whose story should be shared and celebrated. (Jaimes Mayhew)

THE PASSIONATE PURSUITS OF ANGELA BOWEN shows intense deep research into a perspective which is rarely touched on in contemporary media. Or media of any time, for that matter. It animates a forgotten subject with detailed vibrancy. (Samantha Mitchell)

Short Film

 Toby Fell-Holden

BALCONY is a complicated and emotionally complex story of cross culturally stereotyping - and its tragic consequences. The film is brilliantly acted and follows a strong beat-by-beat script. (Eric Cotten)

BALCONY is strong, dynamic, culturally rich, and wittingly questioning of society, norms and expectations. As a viewer, I begin to question myself, my expectations, the lense through which I view the world. The story is clear, yet full of twists. (Desiree Moore)

Runner-Up: 1985
 Yen Tan

1985 is a uniquely compelling story with nice allusion to the past and the future, without unnecessary flashbacks. The character became more whole through the perfect timing of this film. (Desiree Moore) 

1985 is an amazingly well conceived and executed film about a man suffering from HIV and the facial markings associated with his advancing symptoms. (Eric Cotten)

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards

The Friends of the Festival Fund was established in 2009 through the estate of Alan Ira Dusowitz. This endowment trust helps fund film programming content for TIGLFF.  In honor of Alan, TIGLFF will give annual awards for Best Emerging Film-maker in the categories of Full Length Feature Film and Short Film.

Feature Film Winner

Deb Shoval for (AWOL)

To be a great filmmaker you have to get a lot of things right: artistic direction, lighting, sound, charismatic and believable actors, etc. But most importantly you have to tell a good story. If you are telling a story about something that has been told many times before - like a love story - then you better be able to tell it in a distinctive and compelling way. In AWOL, Deb Shoval's account of the not-uncommon lesbian love story between a straight-in-the-streets femme fatale and a baby butch, she makes this story new and poignant. It is a love story that is born in depression. The story is literally located in a depressed town with characters who are in depressing situations. Like many lovers do, her characters bond over their fear that they are not deserving of love or happiness. Theirs is the kind of dysfunctional love that makes risking one's life for another person seem like the only thing to do. Viewers can simultaneously identify with being a fool for love and with the community that wants to try to save them from themselves. But there is a reason love is called the strongest force on earth and there is a reason that it is uniquely difficult to capture cinematically. Deb Shoval nails this phenomenon in a way that makes us want her to give us more and more important stories like this one. (Karin Wolf)

Short Film Winner

Vera Sjunnesson for (INFANTILE)

For her insightful investigation of identity amidst the confusing state of puberty. I enjoyed the ambiguity of the intentions of our main character. The subtle nature of probing by the main character seemed true to young children’s exploration of the world around them. (Desiree Moore)

Sjunnesson expertly directs a slightly creepy, but very sensitive drama about an innocent-looking girl who has a crush on her swimming coach and the tricks she will play to get close to her. This piece has that weird touch of realism we all can relate to. (Eric Cotten)


The Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards
26th Annual Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Short Film ($250)
jEREMY aSHER lYNCH for Tomgirl

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Feature Film ($500)
Jay Dockendorf for Naz & Maalik

Audience Awards - 26th Annual

WEIRD IS WHO'S NOT WEIRD (Raro el que no es raro) directed by Christopher Carballo

Documentary Feature:
REEL IN THE CLOSET directed by Stu Maddux
SEED MONEY by Michael Stabile

Narrative Feature:
WHILE YOU WEREN'T LOOKING by Catherine Stewart

Festival Jury Awards - 26th Annual

WEIRD IS WHO'S NOT WEIRD (Raro el que no es raro) directed by Christopher Carballo

Documentary Feature:
REEL IN THE CLOSET directed by Stu Maddux
SEED MONEY by Michael Stabile

Narrative Feature:
WHILE YOU WEREN'T LOOKING by Catherine Stewart


The Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards
25th Annual Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Short Film ($250)
Vera Sjunnesson for Infantile

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Feature Film ($500)
Deb Shoval for AWOL

Audience Awards - 25th Annual

OUT SMART directed by Dawn Cobalt

Documentary Feature:
LETTER TO ANITA directed by Andrea Meyerson

Narrative Feature:
THE 10 YEAR PLAN directed by JC Calciano

Festival Jury Awards - 25th Annual

BLACK IS BLUE directed by Cheryl Dunye
Runners Up: OJOS QUE NO VEN directed by Patricia Ovando & DESNUDOS by Jose Antonio Cortes Amunárriz

Documentary Feature:
ALEX & ALI directed by Malachi Leopold
Runner Up: LETTER TO ANITA directed by Andrea Meyerson

Narrative Feature:
EASTERN BOYS directed by Robin Campillo
Runner Up: OPEN UP TO ME directed by Simo Halinen


The Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards
24th Annual Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Short Film ($250)
Rafael Aidar for THE PACKAGE (O PACOTE)

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Feature Film ($500)
Chris Mason Johnson for TEST

Audience Awards - 24th Annual

Audience Award for Best Short

Audience Award for Best Feature

Festival Jury Awards - 24th Annual

Women's Shorts:
Winner - ANNALYN by Maria Eriksson
Runners Up - PERFORMING GIRL by Crescent Diamond & FIRST DATE by Janella Lacson

Men's Shorts:
Winners (tie) - THE PACKAGE (O PACOTE) by Rafael Aidar & HOLDEN by Roque Madrid
Runner Up - DIK by Christopher Stollery

Documentary Feature:
Winner - GOD LOVES UGANDA by Roger Ross Williams
Runner Up - BRIDEGROOM by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason

Narrative Feature:
Winners (tie) - THE LAST MATCH (LA PARTIDA) by Antonio Hens ("Haunting story, raw and indelible acting and filmmaking.") & MIA by Javier Van de Couter ("Deals with queerness in a direct way, atypical story with excellent acting.")  Runner Up - OUT IN THE DARK by Michael Myers


The Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards
23th Annual Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Feature Film
Jonathan Lisecki for Gayby

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Short Film
Mitsuyo Miyazaki for Tsuyako


The Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards
22th Annual Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Feature Film
Maryam Keshavarz for Circumstance (Hon. Mention- Sabine Bernardi for ROMEOS)

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Short Film
Daniel Ribeiro for I Don't Want To Go Back Alone


The Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Awards
Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Feature Film
Director Haim Tabakman for Eyes Wide Open

Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award for a Short Film
Director Deana Williams for Tracks