By Wayne Harada
Some of the best things are wee, in the 23rd annual Rainbow Film Festival, opening today at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
That is, a number shorts are see-worthy and shouldn’t be missed, and might be otherwise snubbed in an array of diverse features exploring the nuances and shadings of gay, lesbian and alternative lifestyle documentary entries.
A short list of notes on the titles on the agenda:
• Best local entry, or good things come in small packages: “Lunchtime,” a 7-minute short by Islander Keo Woolford, who expands his growing credentials with a simple but stunning commentary on bullying, sharing and caring. Henry (Christopher Perez), a fifth grader, lunches with Mr. Loh (James Wong), and the two munch and reflect on a common plane that magnifies the elements of acceptance, trust and confidence. The kid finds solace lunchtime with Loh, and tells his teacher, “Do you and your roommate think you guys are weird?,” knowing the instructor has a roommate. “Some people think it’s weird (to be sing), not married,” Loh responds. A lot of meaningful give-and-take. At 8:30 p.m. May 31; Woolford will be present. Precedes “Cloudburst,” the opening night main feature.
• Best ladies road movie since “Thelma and Louise.”: Stella (Olympia Dukakis) and Brenda Fricker (Dottie) are lesbian partners who share a three-decades-long life together, but the hit the road in a pickup when Dottie’s conniving granddaugher wants granny ousted from her home and relocated in a care facility. Stella has a lion’s roar, bulldog’s bite, and a salty sailor’s mouth; when she finds out that her partner, who is blind, has been taken to a care home, she abducts her friend and they head for Canada to marry. Along the way, they meet the Brad Pitt figure, Prentice (Ryan Doolittle), who becomes a necessary and helpful third wheel in their quest for happiness. “Cloudburst” is a sunny film with a stormy theme; if you liked “The Kids Are Alright,” you’ll burst with tears, and laughter. At 8:30 p.m. May 31, following “Lunchtime.”
• Best school crush short: “I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone,” a 17-minute Brazilian short, is the winner of nearly a dozen international awards, including the Iris, and deals with Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo), a blind 15-year-old teen, who has the helpful arm of his female friend Giovana (Texx Amorim), who guides him safely home after school. When a newbie classmate, Gabriel (Fabio Audi), arrives in class, there’s a test of chemistry, jealously and loyalty and love. Teen feelings and urges begin to spark, and a kiss brings a smile and a likely feel-good finish. At 2:15 p.m. May 31
• Best coming-of-age yarn with a gay twist: “North Sea Texas,” a Belgium feature (“Nordzee, Texas”), focuses on an adolescent cutie, Pim (Jelle Florizoone), who dresses as a little princess in the privacy of his bedroom. His mom Yvette (Eva Van Der Gucht), is a dubious celebrity who plays accordion and goes on periodic treks away from home, leaving Pim to fend for himself alone. At 15, Pim discovers his sexuality and moons for and sketches Gino (Mathias Vergels), the older buddy from next door, with whom he has a sexual encounter he must keep private. While its pace is plodding, the brooding atmosphere is real. And it’s easy to empathize with the confusion and the want of the teen hero in search of happiness. At 5 p.m. June 1.
• Worst attempt at parody: “Birds of a Feather,” which is parody of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” and a take-off of a Flock of Seagulls tune, is a pastiche of good ambition, confused storytelling, musical comedy-dramady, and a desperate attempt to link Lady Gaga and “The Phatom of the Opera” for a gaggle of pop kitch. This is no “La Cage Aux Folles,” which often used the “Birds of a Feather’ title translated. There are cameos (Olympia Dukakis, Bruce Vilanch, Trevor Donovan), with embarrassing results. The seagull metaphor — a search for hope and possibility — is an underlying theme, but when all is said and done, it’s a bad idea executed with bad acting. A World Premiere at noon June 2. Writer-director Anthony Meindl presents and actor’s workshop following the screening. Maybe he can provide a clue or two of why and how come.
* * *
THE 23RD ANNUAL HONOLULU RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL
Opening May 31, continuing through June 3
Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Museum of Art
Single tickets, $10 adults, $9 students; $15 for opening and close night progams; film passes ($80, $130) also available