Since 1990, festival films have been shown exclusively at the Tampa Theatre. This year, however, the festival is expanding to 11 venues, including three days of film screenings at the Catherine A. Hickman Theater in Gulfport from October 8 through 10.
“It was a mutual decision between us and the Tampa Theatre,” says Scott Skyberg, TIGLFF’s interim executive director of the expansion. “We wanted to reach out into communities that have a strong history of following the festival. The Hickman Theater is a nice theater with good sound, and Gulfport has always been a strong supporter.”
The festival kicks off with a free film on October 2 at the Palladium Theatre, which will also be the site of the opening event on October 3, featuring Lea DeLaria from the popular television series “Orange Is the New Black.” Besides adding the Hickman Theater, other locations include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, the Metropolitan Community Church and more.
The inclusion of diverse, smaller venues could have a positive economic impact on area businesses as well as the prestige of being part of the festival.
“I think attendance will go up, especially during the week, and we could reach full capacity due to the smaller venues,” says Skyberg. “We are hoping that expanding into the different communities allows people to make it to a film and have dinner in the area.”
Gulfport, with its strong history of supporting LGBT issues and providing resources, seems a perfect fit for the festival.
Says Justin Shea, cultural events facilities supervisor, Gulfport is “honored” to offer the theater as a host venue for TIGLFF.
“We have worked strategically behind the scenes with the organizers,” says Shea, “allowing for a gratifying experience inside the city of Gulfport.”
Many of the films will focus on topical issues such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and the inequality surrounding gender identity.
“This year,” says Skyberg, “there is a variety of women’s films equal to the quality of men’s films. Transgender films are also mainstream independent entries into the festival. Ultimately, it’s not about a venue, a person or a film, it’s about the experience for everyone to see a compelling film about equality.”
For more on the films, the festival or ticketing information go to tiglff.com or download the mobile app.