By Zamná Ávila and Lyn Jensen
The 2012 Long Beach QFilm Festival is less than a week away, offering some of the best in independent, queer-themed films recently released. Besides screenings, the schedule includes parties, discussions, a brunch, and numerous opportunities for attendees to mingle with filmmakers, actors, critics, and film industry professionals.
The film festival, which takes place Sept. 14 through 16 at the Center Long Beach and the Art Theatre, will help raise funds for The Center’s diverse community programs.
Oscar-winning actresses Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker light up the festival stage, at 7 p.m. Sept. 14, at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. The two women star as Stella and Dot in Cloudburst, a film about a couple who escapes from a nursing home in Maine in quest to reach Canada and legally marry. It’s a last bid to stay together. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker, Prentice (Ryan Doucette), a confused and soul-wounded man who finds answers to life questions as Stella and Dot wage their battles on their journey. Cloudburst explores life, death and love with humor and grace through the eyes of this trio.
The fun continues through Sept. 15 with feature films such as Elliot Loves, —written and directed by Terracino, which plays at 9:30 p.m., at the Art Theatre.
What makes this coming-of-age story so interesting is that, unlike many such queer genre plots, it is not a “coming out” story. In fact, first love and the exploration of sexuality are not even part of the storyline.
The premise of Elliot Loves is as simple as its name. It’s about the quest for true love, which must be found within one’s self before it ever can be shared. It is a growth process relevant to both queer and straight audiences.
Nine-year-old Elliot Ayende, played by Quentin Araujo, is forced to play adult with his young, single mother (Elena Goode), who searches for love in all the wrong places. Flash-forward 11 years into future, 21-year-old Elliot (Fabio Costaprado) emulates what he’s learned in his own “relationships” with men. But it’s not all drama. Elliot presents the right amount of Latino flair to provide enough comedy relief to keep you laughing throughout the movie.
With about a $77,000 budget, Terracino was able to use cinematographic elements, including lighting and animation to maintain visual continuity within the story. That, on top of the quality of acting for the main characters, such as Goode (Ma), makes Elliot Loves a must see at this year’s QFest.
Speaking of must see, don’t forget to make time on your film fest spree for the several creative short films offered this year.
The feature-length documentary Gay Latino: Los Angeles by Jonathan Mendez will have its U.S. premiere at 12:30 at the Art Theatre. The film follows the lives of three young gay Los Angeles Latinos over roughly a year. One works for GLAAD, one has issues with drugs, and one’s an undocumented Adam Lambert type who took part in the DREAM Act campaign.
Why We Ride: The Story of the AIDS/Life Cycle, a 13-minute documentary on the annual fundraising bike-a-thon between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is a highlight of the “Men’s Shorts” program screening at 3 on Saturday.
Part fairytale, part comedy and part sign-of-the-times, The Miracles on Honey Hill, by Bob Pondillo, provides storytelling and fantasy with a twist.
What seems to be a fantasy is actually an exploration of the inner child in all of us, complete with innocence and those annoying tantrums that often don’t end with adulthood. Children play the fitting roles of adults in this film, set in an imaginary town (somewhere near New Jersey) called Honey Bee Hill.
Everyone loves Millie (Lucy Turner), who lives alone in a house on top of a hill, especially her “church family.” That is, of course, until she meets and decides to marry her one true love, “Ed” (Paige Glasser).
In about 20 minutes, Pondillo includes elements of musicals, continuity, color adaptation and animation to tell a complete story of a “girl” looking for someone special. With iconic phrases, such as AOL’s “You’ve-got-mail,” references to the metaphysical end described in the book, The Secret, as “the universe.”
When Rev. Filch — think Rev. Phelps — and his congregation attempt to throw Mille out of the Little Stone Church, God, (or at least a comedic interpretation of the deity played by David H. Lawrence XVII), miraculous appears to teach the congregation a lesson about love and acceptance.
“It’s fear, unkindness, narcissism, infidelity, pride, hubris, disrespect that destroys a marriage; nothing else; nothing else. Get me?” God says. “The problem with you people is that you always make everything about sex, when really, it’s about love.”
Whether or not the film is educational or preaches to the choir remains to be seen. What it may not accomplish is change the hearts and minds of people who are against same-sex relationships, and the comedic slant on God may not help. Still, the film is worth watching, well made, well presented and suitable for the young, old, straight and queer.
Women in Short (short films with female leading characters) will be shown starting at 5 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Art Theatre. The festival concludes on Sept.16 with a closing-night party and a romantic duo of feature films. One is the Swedish film Kiss Me [Kyss Mig] at 6:30 p.m., followed at 8:30 p.m. by I Do.
For more details about the QFilm Festival visit http://qfilmslongbeach.com or http://tinyurl.com/RLn-QFilmFest. If you’re a filmmaker who’d like to perhaps enter the 2013 QFest, please go to http://www.withoutabox.com/ beginning on Oct.15.