Letters from the Issue of October 24, 2002

Bring back Robert Rosenberg!

The Rosenberg Resurrection

We shall return him to the film festival -- or else: In Brett Sokol's recent "Kulchur" column about the crisis at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival ("They Shoot Divas, Don't They?" October 10), he wrote that "...not just the gay community, but the entire city is the poorer for [festival director Robert] Rosenberg's getting axed." We could not agree more and think Sokol's portrayal of the issues and events is accurate, fair, and to the point.The recent departure from the festival of its founder and director is unfortunate and tragic to many of us who have known Mr. Rosenberg's work in South Florida, who love the arts, are film aficionados, and would like to see the local gay and lesbian community flourish and grow. Under Robert Rosenberg's visionary leadership the festival, in only four short years, has received extensive praise from the film industry, including film directors and other artists from around the world; from South Florida audiences; and from the media. Much of this is based on the international network Mr. Rosenberg has developed for the past two decades as an award-winning filmmaker and film festival professional himself.

Those of us signing this letter consist of former members of the festival's board of directors (including two former chairpersons), as well as festival members, major donors, and professional collaborators. We are committed to seeing the return of Mr. Rosenberg to his position as festival director. We believe this is the best way to ensure the preservation of an outstanding gay and lesbian film festival for Miami and South Florida, and the annual growth of its international recognition for years to come.

In fact, through an endless flow of telephone calls and e-mails across the community, it is clear that a large segment of film festival founders, members, and attendees are deeply dismayed by Mr. Rosenberg's dismissal and support his reinstallation as festival director. Many of these feel they will no longer support the festival with their money, their time, or their attendance given the recent turn of events and the board's apparent inability to resolve the situation.

Next to his dismissal, the decision not to replace Mr. Rosenberg with someone of comparable accomplishments is even more telling. Surely there must be a greater understanding of the role and value of an artistic leader than is evidenced thus far in the public discussion of his dismissal. To suggest that the 2003 festival will be bigger and better than the last without Mr. Rosenberg, as the current festival administration has done, betrays a lack of understanding of what distinguishes an adequate festival director from an Olympian. We are certain the outstanding quality of the 2002 festival will not continue without Robert Rosenberg's leadership.

A number of us have offered and continue to offer to join (or rejoin) the festival board of directors and to participate in the effort to preserve the festival as the community treasure it is. We are confident the financial and administrative work that needs to take place to make the organization functional again can happen with a collegial, committed board and with Rosenberg as director of the festival. We also recognize the impressive talent and industry experience of current festival personnel, and look forward to their continued efforts in producing the festival. We urge the current board quartet to take the steps necessary to build bridges and find common ground to move forward with the rest of us in continuing the work that Robert Rosenberg began. We also encourage all supporters and members of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival to communicate to the current administration your concerns and recommendations regarding Mr. Rosenberg's departure and the future of the festival.

A nonprofit gay and lesbian film festival is a community institution, and its audience must be all-inclusive. Nonprofit management is not easy and board management is a labor of love. However, decisions must be based on the long-term benefit to the total community. Infighting and power conflicts need to be managed without loss of the core value of the institution -- otherwise there is no institution, or a different and lesser one. We think Mr. Rosenberg created that core value of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and should remain part of the team.

If you would like to have your name added to this list, please contact us at SaveTheFest@aol.com and indicate what your past relationship to the film festival has been.

Sidney Brien, founding chairperson

Harvey J. Burstein, former chairperson

Mario Beguiristain, Raymond Breslin, Loly Carrillo, Don Chauncey, Karen Caruso, Gabino Cuevas, M. Blake Davis, Arlene M. De la Torre, Fred Fejes, Steven Neckman, Myrna Palley, Sheldon Palley, Patrick Pecoraro, Larry Rivero, Sylvie Rokab, Heriberto Sanchez, Joan Schaeffer, Robert Schafer, Tom Thielen, Michael Tronn, Merle Weiss, Kevin Wynn, Thomas R. Yoli

The Rosenberg Rejection

We tried to make it work, but he made it impossible: I'm glad (for a lack of a better word) the story about the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival finally hit the papers. Over the past year a productive and hard-working board of directors became completely repulsed by the behavior of Robert Rosenberg. The community had no idea what problems we were having.The festival was for the whole community, not for Robbie's personal agenda. His arrogant behavior and lack of business sense contributed to the festival's $100,000 debt. That became evident this year when board members who had legitimate recommendations for our tight budget were forced to resign while another was ousted. Other board members became disgusted by his bullying and also resigned. We lost a lot of great people because of Robbie.

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