Pensacola Little Theater will play host to the 7th annual STAMPED Film Festival, this Thursday through Saturday.
The festival began in 2012 at the University of West Florida. According to Board President David Newton, it uses “the unique power of film” to strike down stereotypes and open up dialogue about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning community.
“To foster awareness, inclusion and diversity; that’s kind of our mission,” said Newton. “We hope to become a bridge to the community, to those that maybe just don’t get it or they would very much like to understand more about their gay neighbor, their gay co-worker.”
The name STAMPED was branded about four years into the project, and has its origins in efforts to highlight the impact of LGBTQ tourism in Pensacola, especially during the Memorial Day weekend.
“In order to show their presence more and to show their economic impact, they actually stamped money with a pink triangle, as well as the words ‘gay money,’” said Newton. “That money got distributed throughout the community that particular season. There were estimates of about $25 million. So yes, I think our presence definitely has an economic impact for our community, for the better.”
Nineteen films were selected for the 2018 lineup out of about 130 entries. The final selections, says Newton, sprang from a “very tedious” process by the Selections Committee.
“We pick films that are representative of each letter of the alphabet; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning,” said Newton. "We try to make sure there’s a fair balance but also whether or not the film is a narrative, short film or animation. Try to balance out what the audience might get a chance to see.”
With 19 movies over three nights, there’s something for those who are interested in the festival but cannot go to every one because of time and other constraints. Newton whittles it down to a handful of “must-sees.”
One is the event’s first-ever horror film, “The Quiet Room,” which screens Friday evening.
“I’m not a horror fan personally, but I understand people’s fascination and interest in the genre,” Newton says. “And so I’m kind of excited that we’re doing something that’s a little outside of our own realm of what we’ve shown in the past.”
Another is “The Red Tree,” which Newton describes as both artistic and a documentary about a gay population exiled off the coast of Fascist Italy during World War II.
“It really was captivating; I happened to sit in on the Submission Committee’s night that was being viewed,” Newton said. “And I was really impressed and hoped and crossed my fingers that they would choose to put that in the festival because I think it’s really indicative of holding a balance between holding an art form and a story.”
Once the movies are shown, the crowds are gone and planning begins on the 2019 edition of STAMPED, Organizers hope that attendees — among other things — can take away ideas on activism and advocacy that can be applied to daily life.
“Most people think about the great big ways of picketing, writing your senator or being an activist in your community or an advocate in some larger-scale way,” said Newton. “But we would say even in small ways – being an ally showing up alongside a loved one is a great way to represent the community and the concern the community has.”
The 7th annual STAMPED Film Festival at the Pensacola Little Theater is free. More information on the movies and schedule is available at https://stampedfilmfest.com.