KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Cinema aficionados can discover top independent films, explore LGBTQ themes, learn about virtual reality techniques and roller-skate at the southernmost hockey rink in the continental United States during the annual Key West Film Festival, scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 14-18.
Now in its seventh year, the fest attracts top global independent features, LGBTQ films and documentaries offering “great storytelling or social consciousness,” said Brooke Christian, Key West Film Festival founder and chairman.
Significant elements of the 2018 schedule include a programming selection of LGBTQ films curated by Eugene Hernandez, deputy director of the prestigious Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Brian Brooks, the organization’s manager of talks and artist programs.
Movies directed or produced in Florida, or with Florida-based crew or actors, also are highlighted. The festival awards a $5,000 scholarship each year to recognize aspiring Florida filmmakers for their contributions to Florida’s film heritage and creative vision.
The several dozen cinematic offerings during the event typically attract leading film critics from the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, IndieWire, Timeout New York and Vulture.com.
The festival kicks off Wednesday, Nov. 14, with its Spotlight series at the historic San Carlos Institute, 516 Duval St. A grand opening night party follows at the Audubon House & Tropical Gardens, 205 Whitehead St.
Last year’s opening Spotlight movie, “The Shape of Water,” won top honors during the 90th Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.
“We are elated about our opening Spotlight series again this year and confident that several of them will be in the Oscar conversation again for the top nod,” Christian said.
New this year is an event Friday, Nov. 16, at Key West’s hockey rink at Atlantic Boulevard and Bertha Avenue with music and a disc jockey.
The festival’s third annual Costume Design Award is to feature notable industry names, while “artist talks” showcase Hollywood film celebrities, Christian said.
A free screening Sunday, Nov. 18, is to feature a cinematic classic curated by Justin Chang, film critic for the Los Angeles Times.
Film screenings are to be held at popular island venues. Social events and festivities celebrate Key West landmarks such as the Audubon House, a restored historic home that recalls the artist and ornithologist’s 1832 visit to Key West.
As well as tickets to individual events and film showings, VIP all-access passes are available that include admission to films, filmmaker Q & A sessions, festival social events and more.
Event information, schedule and ticketing: kwfilmfest.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY