Best Of 2005

BEST LOCAL FILM FESTIVAL: Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

There are three major film festivals in the Bay area, and all three seem to be in transitional modes this year. The Tampa International Film Festival, the most seriously cinema-minded of the batch, and the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image, the most whimsical and experimental (with forays into political essaying), seemed at times almost to be exchanging identities last year, a blurring that might have been exaggerated by the two events taking place in an overlapping time frame. The date conflict has been fixed (TIFF will debut in a new early-February slot this year, while YFMI remains ensconced in April), but everything else is up for grabs. And then there’s the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, currently breaking in yet another program director — Joseph Cook — in what is beginning to look like a revolving door of curators. Still, the signs are all pointing toward TGLFF sticking with a proven formula that’s drawn ever larger crowds through the years, making this one of the biggest events of its kind in the country. The line-up for this year looks to be another intriguing mix of creativity, commercialism and unqualified craziness, and expectations are running high. The 2005 festival should be a landmark year, if only for the input of one Ronda Storms, a woman whose name might have destined her for a career as a TV meteorologist, but who instead became one of the biggest unintentional supporters of the arts the Bay area has ever seen. Storms’ misguided actions have so energized thinking members of both the gay and straight communities, that the upcoming Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival might just prove to be a rallying point for passions beyond our wildest dreams. Tampa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Oct. 6-16, 813-253-3333, ext. 3425, http://tampafilmfest.ut.edu. Runners Up: Tampa International Film Festival, Feb. 3-11, 813-253-3333, www.tampafilmfest.com; Ybor Festival of the Moving Image, April 4-9, 813-253-7674, www.yborfilmfestival.com. - Lance Goldenberg