by chris carpenter –
It may not be summer just yet but it isn’t too early to head to the beach. At least that’s true when it comes to the 18th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival. The event will run Thursday, April 20 through Thursday, April 27 at multiple venues in and around its coastal host city.
Celebrated as one of the leading, lifestyle film festivals in the United States, the Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) seeks to bring to Orange County the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world. Committed to enlightening the public with a first-class international film program, a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the NBFF focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of studio and independent films from around the globe.
This typically includes a number of productions with LGBTQ appeal and 2017 is no exception. Thousands of straight. as well as LGBTQ attendees annually make NBFF a smash success. LGBTQ filmmakers participate as well.
Here are some of this year’s notable offerings of interest to our community, both short films and feature-length.
Alzheimer’s A Love Story: A potent yet hopeful documentary that follows longtime, gay couple Greg and Michael as they struggle with the title disease, which threatens to destroy the memory of their 40-year relationship.
My Mom and The Girl: A great, diverse cast including Harmony Santana, Valerie Harper and Liz Torres headlines this tale about a dinner with friends that takes a dark turn, leading a retired jazz singer and her caregiver to a proverbial crossroads on the streets of East Los Angeles. There, they encounter “The Girl” and the three very disparate—and desperate—women pull each other back into the light.
Please Hold: Writer-director Jerell Rosales’ sweet story details the aftermath of when a condom breaks during a random hookup with a stranger. Fearing he may be infected with HIV, young Danny finds an unexpected, new friend while awaiting his test results. Shown as part of the fest’s “Around The World In Shorty Gays” program.
Thanks for Dancing: Another short films program, “Til Short Do Us Part,” will include this Norwegian production. A lifelong relationship is coming to an end as we examine two elderly men, both former athletes, during the last winter they are living together.
The Dam: The North American premiere of an Australian film about two lifelong mates (Aussie-speak for “friends”) who revisit the monolithic dam that defined their young lives. An admission from one of the men cracks open a reservoir of silence, loss and regret, and feelings that were impounded long ago cannot be contained any longer.
Pink Spring in Mexico (Primavera Rosa en México): Although gay marriage was legalized there several years ago, Mexico ranks second in the world in the rate of murders committed against the LGBT population. This documentary spotlights the activists who have risked their lives to denounce these hate crimes, but impunity continues to surround the perpetrators.
Pretty M John: A 10-year old boy, Danilo, helps his mother run a guesthouse in the Philippines. When Mimi John, a transgender boxer from Manila arrives, Danilo seizes the opportunity to connect with her as he finds out more about his own gender identity.
The Lavender Scare: Is an eerily prescient feature documentary. With the United States gripped in the panic of the Cold War during the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower deems homosexuals to be security risks and orders the immediate firing of any government employee discovered to be gay or lesbian. This triggered a vicious witch hunt that ruined tens of thousands of lives but thrust an unlikely hero into the forefront of what would become the modern LGBT rights movement.
No Dress Code Required: A couple living in Baja California makes preparations for their grand wedding. There’s only one problem: they are both men and their union is considered illegal. Cristina Herrera Borquez’s acclaimed film won the John Schlesinger Award at January’s Palm Springs International Film Festival.
For more information, a full Newport Beach Film Festival guide, or to purchase tickets for this year’s many offerings, call 949.253.2880 or go to: newportbeachfilmfest.com.