Outshine Film Festival Ladies Spotlight Event

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By Arlene De La Torre

It’s a cocktail party. It’s a movie date. It’s both, exclusively for LGBTQ women and their supporters, happening every April in Greater Miami and the beaches.

Welcome to the Women’s Spotlight event at the OUTshine Film Festival, a night by, for and about LGBTQ women, produced as part of one of the major LGBTQ film festivals in the USA.

What’s special about this event and why would you want to be here? The best reason is that this fun event brings together LGBTQ women of all ages and “styles,” from varied backgrounds, localities, and nationalities-- and from both sides of the camera (film creators as well as viewers). As a local and as a visitor, it’s a unique opportunity to meet and socialize with women who appreciate LGBTQ women’s film, culture, and company!

Now in its 20th year, the OUTshine Film Festival is a highly anticipated event on the Miami LGBTQ social calendar, and the Women’s Spotlight film and its party are two of its highpoints.

And what a party! Situated at the chic Palm Court in the very sci-sci Miami Design District, you can tell this is no run-of-the-mill get-together. Walking past luxe designer shops such as Celine, Balenciaga and Tom Ford, you catch glimpses of other likeminded women heading in the same direction. You sense you know their destination — and shared glances evoke sincere smiles and nods of familiarity.

The anticipation of what’s next has everyone excited. Crossing the graceful coral-stone paved and columned courtyard, we ride the escalator to the penthouse — a room with 180-degree floor-to-ceiling glass and views of the surrounding architecture and swaying palm tree tops. Standing in queue to enter, you can see that this party has drawn a stylish crowd. Fashion is part of the fun — and apropos, considering this event is being held in an upscale promenade of swanky, Beverly Hills-caliber boutiques.

Inside, drinks flow, as do the introductions and conversations. What makes this event so appealing to attend? For Yira Robles, a young, 20-something aged Cuban-American from Miami, her motivation is an interest in patronizing LGBTQ women’s events such as this one, so that they thrive. “It’s important to support my community and events for [LGBTQ] women. If there’s no participation, they disappear.“ It’s also a chance to expand her social circle. “I enjoy coming out and socializing with people outside of our group of close friends. It’s nice to have a mix of people from all ages, interests and places.”

But what if you’re not from Miami? Can someone who’s visiting feel comfortable coming here? “Sure!” added Yira. “People are friendly and there are different languages spoken also, so it’s easy to talk to people."

Organized by one of Miami’s foremost women’s event promoters, Lynn Bove of Icandee, the Women’s Spotlight party has a cocktail lounge ambiance, and is decorated with high-top tables for people to stand, lower-profile conversation groupings, and dramatic lighting to set the mood. Light bites and appetizers are provided by the Miami outpost of the St. Roche Market, a New Orleans-based food hall housing culinary “pop-up restaurants” featuring tastings from chefs of not-yet-open new eateries. Downtempo music and remixed disco classics create a lively party atmosphere, and an open bar by sponsors, Bacardi and Tito’s Vodka, keep guests hydrated and happy.

Another guest, Robin Schwartz, Executive Director of South Florida’s non-profit LGBTQ Aqua Foundation for Women — a community partner for the 2018 Women’s Spotlight film — has come to the party to “See old friends and make new ones. This is a very inclusive and international crowd, and the diversity of the guests attending— respected lesbians who forged progress during the women’s and gay rights movements, to artists and filmmakers from the Festival, to millennials who are just making their way in the world, and visitors from around the world — makes it so interesting!”

Attending the Women’s Spotlight film that precedes the event is not a pre-requisite, but is part of the “Spotlight” package experience. Watching movies is something just about everyone enjoys and having a chance to watch a film that focuses on the experience of the LGBTQ woman, in a shared space with predominantly LGBTQ women, is a special and exciting feeling. “More than watching on your tablet, or online on Netflix, or Hulu, or Amazon, OUTshine Women’s Spotlight screening is a social occasion, a chance to see and be seen, “ says Bove. “The Spotlight Event captures the spirit of that camaraderie and provides a social setting to further enjoy it.”

Occurring every April, the Women’s Spotlight film and event is must-do when in Miami.

Held at different and unique locations throughout Greater Miami and the Beaches each year, it’s a guaranteed good time. And if you’re either lucky or smart enough to be in Miami during April, it’s a must-do to have on your itinerary.

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