OUTshine's Opening Night Brings Out "Big Gay Italian Wedding" And "Eastsiders" Stars

The film's sexy cast talks about the changing attitudes in Italy; plus, how "The Real World" saved an Eastsider's life.

Miami’s premiere experience for LGBT cinephiles, OUTshine Miami, wrapped just days ago, after parties, panels, events, and screening some 80 queer films. But it was the opening night, celebrating the festival’s 20th anniversary, that pulled out all the stops.

The opening night event, held at the Scottish Rite Temple in Miami (a cool freemason’s joint complete with ceremonial room—I had to take a peek—and dozens of photo portraits of guys in little red hats) featured a pre-party, the opening ceremonies (no Solomonic rituals, I’m sorry to say), the awarding of the Vanguard Award to (Kit Williamson, creator and star of the Netflix series Eastsiders, and his partner John Halbach, actor and producer for Eastsiders) a screening of My Big Gay Italian Wedding, and a lively after party.

My Big Gay Italian Wedding (Italian title Puoi Baciare Lo Sposo, directed by Alessandro Genovesi, written by Alessandro Genovesi and Giovanni Bognetti and based on the play My Big Gay Italian Wedding by Anthony J. Wilkinson) is a romantic comedy about the visit of two men (along with their roommates, a best gal pal and an enigmatic bus driver) to the picturesque home of Antonio (Cristian Caccamo) to introduce Paolo (Salvatore Esposito) to his parents, to come out, and to announce their engagement. With overtones of The Birdcage and Mama Mia, the film toys playfully with Italy’s lingering homophobia, preventing Italian same-sex couples from getting full marriage (rather than “skim-milk”-style civil partnership).

From left: Monica Guerritore, Cristiano Caccamo, Salvatore Esposito, and Enzo Miccio in My Big Gay Italian Wedding

Prior to the screening, NewNowNext sat down with the two of the film’s cast members, million-watt-smile Caccamo, and the charming and chatty Diana del Bufalo (below), who plays the no-filters best girlfriend Benedetta. This would be their first time seeing it with an American audience. “And we’re a bit—I’m anxious. Are there subtitles?” asks del Bufalo. “Or dubbed,” asks Caccamo. Subtitles, they’re reassured.

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Are attitudes about same-sex marriage changing in Italy? “It is our hope,” says Caccamo in a thick but endearing accent. “We show the movie also in the school and the [parents] have to sign this permission to see this movie. It’s absurd [that they should have to do sign a permission form]!”

“One father wrote on Facebook that he’s ashamed,” that his child would see the film in school, says del Bufalo. “Very stupid. It’s not like it’s porn. We’re talking about love!”

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“Nasty man, very fascistic,” adds Caccamo (above). The pair say they have seen the film with school kids who loved it. “So so much,” says Caccamo. And the audience got very involved, he says: “It was crazy! They comment [talk to the characters on screen], ‘Please. no don’t do that!’ Like they were inside the movie. It was so funny.”

Caccamo adds that the story is one that he’s seen played out in his own life. “In south Italy is harder [to be out] than in Rome or Milan. My best friend in the south has a brother and a sister who are gay and lesbian. The first to come out was the brother—to say, ‘I am with this man,’ and it was hard for him. And when the sister says, ‘Yes I like the woman too,’ the [parents] ask ‘What did we do?’ ” But Caccamo’s brother’s boyfriend is welcomed by the family, “So it’s all OK. It’s just the [idea of homosexuality] that they don’t like. When it happens [when people come out], nothing changes. It’s OK.”

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During the opening night event, the Vanguard Award was given to Kit Williamson and John Halbach, for expanding queer visibility on screen. “I’m grateful when anyone recognizes this project that we’ve worked so hard on,” Halbach (above, left) tells NewNowNext of the pair's Emmy-nominated series Eastsiders.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized in this way by OUTshine film festival. The award is really important to me having grown up in Mississippi,” says Williamson (above, right). “LGBTQ representation literally saved my life when I was a kid. It’s one of the reasons I want to tell these stories. It started with the Real World: New Orleans, then as I started exploring the independent film section of our Blockbuster, I found films like Trick and Edge of Seventeen and But I’m a Cheerleader, and I saw myself reflected in stories.”

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