Theater / Film

South Florida Filmmakers Shine at OUTshine Festival

Written By Sergy Odiduro
April 19, 2024 at 3:51 PM

Cesar Pichardo plays a genie in “El Reggaetonero” playing  during the 26th annual OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival as part of its South Florida Shorts program on Monday, April 22. (Photo courtesy of Eddy Moon )

If there’s one kind of music that can shake anyone out of a funk it’s reggaeton.

This Latin-languaged cousin of reggae, with its hard to ignore beats and infectious rhythms, was exactly the kind of pick me up that Eddy Moon needed.

It was during the pandemic, and he, like so many others, was struggling.

“It was a dark time for me as an artist,” said Moon, a director and creative producer.

“Ever since I was like 12 or 13 All I’ve ever wanted to do with my life was to make movies. I’m 35 now so I’ve been pursuing the same goal for 20 something years. And with everything being shut down, I was like, am I ever going to make one again?”

Gabrielle Alexander and Diana Garle, star in “El Reggaetonero” a reggaetón musical written and directed by Eddy Moon. (Photo courtesy of Eddy Moon )

Day after day he pondered this, while he found himself moored to his couch, awash in a sea of emotions.

But ultimately it was music that offered a lyrical life raft that helped him dance his way back to shore.

It was as if each and every one of his favorite Reggaeton artists:

Bad Bunny, Residente, El Alfa, Daddy Yankee and Don Omar reached through his headphones, shook him by the shoulders and pushed him over the hump.

“I found solace in Reggaeton music, just because it was the complete opposite of everything that I was going through. I was feeling depressed and down and anxious. And when I put on music, it was lively, fun and exciting. Everybody was positive and joyful. And it brought me the kind of joy that I needed at the time.”

Eventually, he was able to pull himself together and channel their energy.

And then right there on his couch a new film was formed, a creative child born of the pandemic. And Its name was “El Reggaetonero.”

Cesar Pichardo in “El Reggaetonero.” The musical features an original soundtrack by DEMBOWYZ and Mago Music. (Photo courtesy of Eddy Moon )

Produced by Kevin Ondarza, Camila Marcano and Olivia Timmons and made with authentic reggaeton by  DEMBOWYZ and Mago Music, this fun, over the top musical features a genie who offers a barrage of unwanted relationship advice to an anxious Lily who is set to go out on a first date with a recent love interest.

The film will be shown during the 26th annual OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival as part of its South Florida Shorts program.

Attendees will be able to meet Moon and other local filmmakers when they will be given center stage during the Cocktails & Cinema South Florida Filmmakers Showcase on Monday, April 22  at Silverspot Cinema Miami. A question and answer with the movie makers and a reception will immediately follow the screening.

Films in the South Florida Shorts series will also be available for virtual screening through Sunday, May 5.

In addition, the festival includes a variety of activities that will be held at different sites. Attendees will have a choice of more than 50 features and shorts, panel discussions, parties, and a Latin Spotlight highlighting films from Latin America.

For those looking for insight into the local moviemaker scene, a filmmaker panel will be held on Saturday, April 27 at Regal South Beach. The event is part of an effort to encourage local filmmakers to tell their stories.

Joe Bilancio, the festival’s director of programming, said that as a bonus, participants will be offered discounted parking as well as free Uber rides to a select number of films.

Short film “Frag” will be featured during the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Frentzel )

“It’s just a way to help people navigate what they perceive to be the difficulties of getting to and from a venue,” says Bilancio.

“What we try and do is think about what are potential difficulties and then cut them out.”

Showcasing a variety of films and offering events with a broad range of topics, is an additional part of their overall strategy in encouraging attendees to come. He hopes that festival goers will consider topics that they have not previously explored.

“I think people do trust that we’re going to have a good quality, well-rounded program, but they don’t necessarily step outside their box,” says Bilancio.

He knows that this year’s lineup is a good way to test the waters.

“Everything’s a good movie, Go see something. Maybe it’s outside of your comfort zone but we have a couple of, what I call out of the box, horror films that are also very good. Take a chance and see something that wouldn’t normally be on your radar. And I think you’ll really be a better person for it.”

“Frag,” also showing on Monday, April 22, by Christopher Frentzel is one such example.

All hell breaks loose in this true crime drama based on a war vet that strolls into a gay bar with a grenade.

Filmmaker Christopher Frentzel, director of “Frag,” says he focuses on underrepresented topics in the LGBTQ community. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Frentzel )

Frentzel hopes that “Frag,” and films like it, will help to expand the genre of films that can be viewed by the community.

“Most of my stories that I tend to tell are always about facets within the LGBTQ community that I feel are underrepresented a lot in film,” says Frentzel.

“When I was growing up trying to watch gay media, it was mostly stories about coming out and stories on non-accepting parents or overly accepting parents. That’s all I saw. And I mean, nowadays, you see a much brighter, wider variety and you also see a lot of queer stories in which the characters’ queerness isn’t a center plot point. But regardless, I feel like I tried to present facets of the queer community that aren’t touched upon, such as mental illness, or certain trauma or sexual assault.”

Bilancio says that OUTshine is more than a film festival.

“It’s not like you’re just going to a movie, you’re actually going to an event. It supports the community  . . and it is such a social environment.”

WHAT:  OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival

WHEN:  Thursday, April 18 through Sunday, May 5

 WHERE: Film screenings at Silverspot Cinema Miami, 300 Southeast 3rd St. from Thursday, April 18 to Friday, April 24 and at Regal South Beach,1120 Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Beach from Saturday, April 25 to Tuesday, April 28.  Additional festival activities, including virtual screenings, are available through Sunday, May 5.

 COST: Tickets vary in price. Membership packages available. $15 for tickets to view films online in the Shorts Program. Log on to outshinefilm.com/ticket-information for detailed pricing information. For a full list of virtual screenings, go to  watch.eventive.org/outshinespring2024. Tickets to view movies in the Shorts Program available at outshinespring2024.eventive.org/schedule/65f775ce9ea7cb008134faf0

 INFORMATION:  outshinefilm.com.

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