Rui Coimbra

Rui Henriques Coimbra is a reporter and social influencer based in Southern California. Born in Africa, he has been a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association since 1995. Coimbra has been the US correspondent for many Portuguese publications, including his current assignment at Público. His past work as an entertainment journalist appears in Expresso, Elle, Independente, and K magazine. He continues to serve on film festival juries.

  • Festivals

About Last Night: Gayla Evening at the Palm Springs International ShortFest 2023

The evening was young when people started gathering outside the Palm Springs Cultural Center and Camelot Theaters for the Gayla evening at the annual ShortFest. On screen, the stories spoke of love and identity, humor, longing, and so much more. From sexual awakenings on the high seas to lofty parties in the big city, the screen feasted on the complexity of the LGBTQ+ existence.

The 2023 edition of the Palm Springs Short Film Festival is on and going strong. The weather is just perfect and seems to have set into a pattern of reliably warm days and cool nights. Known around the film festival circuit as the only festival that takes place in hell – there is no question that summer temperatures in the Coachella Valley can be intimidating – The ShortFest had its Gayla event last night. As the name indicates, the evening program was composed entirely of gay-themed stories. A wonderful and breezy time was had by all present.

At the Camelot 1 theater, the 83-minute Gayla started off with a 14 minute American comedy called 100% USDA Certified Organic Tofu. The story, told in the hilarious tones of Gen Z ennui mixed with sexual affirmation, tells the story of a girl called Nikki who was born a boy, who is now the one who spices things up at her mother’s restaurant in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Nikki works there because she needs the money… for a breast augmentation. Deadpan comedy ensues, with a happy ending. Nikki gets her wish and the restaurant even becomes the trendiest spot in Koreatown. Director Gbenga Komolafe elicits wonderful acting all around, never tiptoeing or pussyfooting around when issues of sexual identity are brought up. The theater audience roared, applauded. And begged for more.


More was served in adorably raunchy terms with the short film Pipes, a gorgeous animation piece made in Switzerland by the very talented Jessica Meier, Kilian Feusi and Sujanth Ravichandram. The film runs a mere 4 minutes long, yet, it packs a sizeable punch. In a simple black and white animation piece that neither stints on detail nor runs out of hilarious energy, we meet a bear working as a plumber who is called to resolve an issue at a private business. Before the bear realizes what is happening, he finds himself in the middle of a hardcore sex club where tubbing, flow and consensual fun seem to be the norm. Somehow, he feels at home and joins a rumbunctious crowd that, as it turns out, adores him. The mature audience laughed and conversations seemed to be sparked.

In the short Gold and Mud, comedy and tragedy alternate in the story of a human face, as we see a woman going through the many phases of her life. Tremendous acting lead to a haunting finale in this piece directed by Conor Dooley. In Insta Gay, two best friends in their mid-twenties try to survive the many pitfalls of daily life in Toronto. During a traumatic party attended by a very pretentious crowd of disdainful boys dressed in black, some certainties fall into place. The film, directed by Simon Paluck, has sarcasm in spades and a comedic tone that merits devoted following in the influencer universe.

Two French movies might have stolen the night. One, Christopher at Sea, is directed by Tom C J Brown. It’s a 20-minute visual treat of ocean waves, magnificent night skies and romantic longings. We see a young man, Christopher, embarking on a container ship that will be making the Atlantic crossing from France to America. He too seems to be at a point of his life where, internally, a big leap is in order – and one of the men working on board might be ready to help him along in this beautiful story of sexual discovery in which the ground moves under your feet. In Idiot Fish, the 24-minute film helmed by Hakim Mao, two youths travel the south of France and engage in romantic moves peppered by role play. Enter the hitchhiker. Between seduction and betrayal, games are played and new selves revealed.


The 29th Palm Springs International ShortFest, known as an open-minded forum that tackles original themes and propels new talent forward, continues today with the exhibition of many works about a variety of themes.  This year the annual event runs from June 20-26.