Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday September 20th 2017

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Six Years of Stamped

By Jennie McKeon

When Isabella “Izzy” Iampieri started thinking about her senior thesis project at Rochester Institute of Technology, she decided to share the experiences of her transgender younger brother, Alan.

“We’ve been best friends since forever,” said the 22-year-old. “He’s been going through his transition for a few years now, but he’s not where he wants to be… I wanted to give him a chance to see how much he’s grown, how much he’s accomplished.”

Iampieri spent a year working on the short, animated film called “Alan” while earning a degree in 2D animation. It’s just one of the many films to be featured at Stamped, the Pensacola LGBT Film Festival.

The first Pensacola LGBT Film Festival was held in 2012, at University of West Florida. The event has since been rebranded and expanded to a three-day festival featuring dozens of films that tell the stories of the LGBT community.

“It all goes back to our mission,” said C. David Newton, president of the board. “We want to bridge a gap between all communities. There are real conversations to be having. We want people to feel inspired to make a change.”

This year, the film festival received well over 100 film submissions. Some were from established filmmakers and others from up and coming talent such as Iampieri. In fact, Stamped was her first-ever submission.

Newton said the festival aims to reflect stories “from all letters of the (LGBT) alphabet” but has seen an increase in films that share the transgender experience.

While the LGBT community has celebrated victories such as the Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage, the transgender community has had some fallbacks. In July, President Donald Trump tweeted that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to enlist or serve in the military. Outside of the President’s Twitter profile, the trans community faces housing and employment discrimination. About 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as transgender, according to the Center for American Progress.

“We have seen quite a bit more trans films and we anticipate seeing more (next year),” Newton said. “It’s important because a gay man’s experience is not a trans experience, is not a lesbian experience. We want this to be a vibrant and educating experience.”

Choosing the films is never an easy task. On top of storylines, the film selection committee is also looking for artistic and quality productions, like any other film festival.

Newton said there were two films in particular that resonated with him, including Iampieri’s film.

“It’s just a beautiful, beautiful little film,” he said. “It’s just three minutes long, but it brings you to tears in the end. We made the decision to show it every single night. It’s powerful and impactful.”

Iampieri said she didn’t make “Alan” for anyone else but her brother, but while searching film festivals, she came across Stamped and liked the mission.

“It really resonated with how it was promoting diversity,” she said. “That’s really important to me.”

Iampieri and her brother are not only siblings and best friends, but were college roommates. She said she often double-checked certain aspects of the film with her brother. In the end, she “wanted to make something special for him.”

“I wanted people to like it,” she said. “But I made it for Alan. I’m pretty proud of it. My mom said there should be a sequel. She’d love to be able to share her perspective as a parent.”

Iampieri said she has been drawing most of her life. Her father and uncle are both artists. Growing up she and her brother would watch short animated films on VHS tapes. Alan is currently studying psychology. He’d like to go into therapy and help others, Iampieri said.

Although Iampieri can’t make it to her film festival debut—as with most college grads, money is a little tight, she said—she’s excited to share her brother’s story.

“This is the first one I got accepted to… it’s kind of crazy,” she said with a laugh.

The festival lineup has everything from documentaries to narrative films. Another festival selection Newton points out is “The News Today” a film inspired by the shooting inside Pulse nightclub last year during Pride month.

“It highlights the last ordinary moments between two guys in love,” he said. “It pays homage to the victims of the Pulse shooting.”

There’s a been a few changes to Stamped this year. There’s a new board, which has brought some new energy and ideas, Newton said. The festival has also been moved up a month from October to September and it is now held at Pensacola Little Theatre all three nights. Newton said keeping the festival in one place is a “tremendous” step forward.

One thing that hasn’t changed in six years is the festival’s free admission.

As Stamped continues to grow, Newton said he’d like to work on promoting more advocacy and activism within the three-day festival.

“I’d like to share more stories about our history and the early activism of the LGBT community,” he said. “Stand firm in our history and show why it’s important to be an advocate. There’s a real likelihood to our rights being taken away.”

“We want to provide a voice for the voiceless, encourage people to be a true emblem of courage,” he added. “Anytime any minority groups face hatred, bigotry or racism… so goes the whole society.”

STAMPED: PENSACOLA LGBT FILM FESTIVAL
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14-Saturday, Sept. 16
WHERE: Pensacola Little Theatre, 400 S. Jefferson St.
COST: Free
DETAILS: stampedfilmfest.com

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2017 STAMPED FILM SELECTIONS
*Information and descriptions courtesy of stampedfilmfest.com

“Afterglow”
Director and Writer: Akira Kamiki
Producers: Sofia Wickerhauser, Yan Della Torre
A sensorial movie about finding the joy of living again. David discovers that his boyfriend Allen is suffering from depression and over the course of a day makes him see the beauty and pleasure of the most mundane things.

“Alan”
Director and Animator: Isabella Iampieri
An animated interview between a sister and her brother about his experiences as a trans kid. Completed as a senior thesis project at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Aleph Melbourne: Celebrating 20 Years”
Director: Michael Barnett
The story of Aleph Melbourne, the controversial support group that changed the face of LGBTIQ acceptance in Jewish Australia. Rich with archival material, take a captivating and nostalgic journey from inception in 1995 through to 2015.

“Assigned Sex”
Director: Shaun Dawson
An intimate documentary chronicling the struggles of five transgender people of color on their journey to discover true self and break away from America’s gender roles.

“Bearable”
Director and Writer: David James Holloway
Writer: Matthew Kitt
Producer: Joshua Herron
An animated film that questions what if your tribe within the gay community defined you. What if you lived with a real bear?

“Because I am”
Director: Lawrie Zidyana
Writer: Tinashe Wakapila, Harriet Mupungu
Producer: Moud N Goba
This film is based on a poem written by a Zimbabwean LGBT in a brave response to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

“Counting”
Director: Dan Pal
Writer: Kari Morris
Producers: Dan Pal, David Zak
In 1951 Violet and Milly make a love promise over a penny. In 2015, the promise comes due, and Violet must face a heartbreaking reality.

“Dusk”
Director and Writer: Jake Graf
Producer: Erica Ryan
Growing up in 1950s England in an intolerant and uninformed world, young Chris Winters struggles to fit into the gender roles dictated by wider society. After meeting dream woman Julie, life lightens a little, but the growing feeling that theirs is a life half lived haunts Chris.

“Escaping Agra”
Director and Producer: Pallavi Somusetty
After being held against their will in India when their gender and sexual orientation is discovered, Naveen Bhat battles their parents in court and pieces their life back together.

“Mario, Kike, Y David”
Director and Writer: Miguel Lafuente
Producers: Miguel Lafuente, Juanma Aragón
Mario and Kike hook up on a dating app. What initially was never meant to be more than a sex date will turn into something else, in spite of their different ways of viewing their bisexuality and how they both cope with it in their respective social circles.

“Meat”
Director and Writer: Vishesh Pires
Producer: Nathan Crane Cohen
Dan is a 20-something-year-old vegan struggling to maintain his relationship with his non-vegetarian boyfriend. The conflict between them quickly escalates when the apocalypse begins, turning Allen, Dan’s boyfriend into a zombie. Now, Dan has to find a way to patch a seemingly impossible relationship.

“Morning After”
Director: Patricia Chica
Writer: Kristian Hodko
Producers: Patricia Chica, Byron A. Martin, Kathy Wolf, Marc Carle, Jessica Moreno
After a long time abroad, a young man returns home and reunites with friends. A sensual game amongst them forces him to confront deep conflicts within himself that lead to a powerful awakening.

“Mum, I’m Back”
Director, Writer, and Producer: Dimitris Katsimiris
A woman returns, after 40 years, to the village where she was born after her mother dies. She keeps an old photograph in her hands: a mother with her two sons. Arriving at the cemetery, she encounters the faces of all those she left behind.

“Poshida: Hidden LGBT Pakistan”
Director and Producer: Faizan Fiaz
Editor: Giulio Gobbetti
British-Pakistani filmmaker Faizan Fiaz documents the grim realities of Pakistan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at a time when LGBT human rights are under fire.

“Tailor”
Director: Calí dos Anjos
Writers: Calí dos Anjos, Debora Guimarães
Producer: Bia Medeiros
Tailor is a comic book journalist, activist, trans, lesbian, non-binary genderqueer and devotes his life to give voice to other trans and oppressed people.

“The End of My World”
Director, Writer, and Producer: Kamil Krawczycki
After a few years of their relationship, Eryk leaves Filip and disappears without a trace. Filip is unable to handle the new situation and is convincing himself that the end of the relationship is also the end of his world. This is the first Polish gay short drama.

“The News Today”
Director and Writer: Lisa Donato
Producer: Emily Irion
Inspired by the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, “The News Today” highlights the last ordinary moments between two guys in love. The familiar and mundane moments between two guys in love become precious in an instant.

“Threads”
Director and Writer: Grace June Cleere
Producer: Poppy Rose Cleere
Three tales. One thread. Watch it unravel.

“We Did Not Fall From the Sky”
Directors: Tabs Breese, Georgia Oakley
Producers: Tabs Breese, Sindhuja Parasarathy
Purushi, Pratiksha and Shalu are three best friends and trans women struggling to find their place in contemporary Indian society, often via the only means of making a living available to them: sex work and begging.