Tampa Gay & Lesbian Film Fest Celebrates 20th Year, Sponsorship Dollars Up 50 Percent

The Tampa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival's anniversary gala opted for a Technicolor look.

The main event space at the Ritz Ybor

Photo: Nick Cardello Photography

The Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday after 10 days of events and movie screenings of more than 60 short films made for, by, or about the gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender community. The festival celebrated its 20th anniversary at a black-tie gala on October 9 at the Ritz Ybor with about 225 guests.

Nonprofit organization Friends of the Festival, which produces the annual event, increased its overall sponsorship dollars by nearly 50 percent, despite a 40 percent drop in the number of corporate sponsors. “Macy’s was completely missing this year, and it’s been one of our four larger sponsors for the past decade,” said Chuck Henson, executive director of Friends of the Festival Inc. “The economy really dictates what these [companies] are going to do, so we had to do a lot more fund-raising for $1,000 or $2,000, instead of $10,000 and $15,000, sponsorships.” Henson added that donations from individuals doubled, thereby offsetting the loss of corporate dollars.

Event designer and producer Frank Clemente of ConceptBAIT took inspiration from the motion picture industry's 1920s-era Technicolor technology for the gala’s decor. Spandex linens in green, yellow, red, purple, and other brights covered the tables, which were topped with four-foot-tall centerpieces. 

Tickets for the night cost $50 per person, though two of the festival's passes—the $160 Crown Circle Diva and $500 Simply Fabulous—included access to the party. The venue proured cocktails, and Drew2U Catering served heavy hors d'oeuvres throughout the three-hour event. Singers from regional karaoke contest Talent Quest Florida and rock band Save the Radio! entertained the crowd.

Around midnight the doors opened to the public for the after-party at a reduced rate of $15. About 50 additional people joined the party, which moved from the main ballroom to two smaller event rooms, until it wrapped up around 2 a.m.

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