Rainbow Film Fest opener explores gay marriage

May. 25, 2012 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
Trevor Donovan, left, and Anthony Meindl star in "Birds of a Feather." Meindl will host an actors' workshop at this year's Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. --Courtesy Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival

Trevor Donovan, left, and Anthony Meindl star in "Birds of a Feather." Meindl will host an actors' workshop at this year's Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. --Courtesy Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival

The Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival has always walked a line between tears and laughter.

It began its 23-year-long run as the Adam Baran Honolulu Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, named in honor of one of the first “veejays,” video jockey Adam Baran, who spent part of his career in Honolulu and died of AIDS 22 years ago.

This year, the Rainbow Film Festival’s opening night film, “Cloudburst,” blends humor and humanity as it considers gay marriage, an issue that’s front and center in U.S. politics today. The film is sparked by a longtime couple’s desire to live in each other’s company through old age and disability, despite hostile forces.

THE 23RD ANNUAL HONOLULU RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL

Where: Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre and Luce Pavilion Courtyard

When: Thursday – June 3

Cost: Single tickets $10; $9 students ($15 for opening and closing nights); Film Pass, $80; VIP Pass, $130, includes all films with priority access and Opening Night Gala.

Info: www.hglcf.org, 447-0577

Opening Night Gala: Annual benefit for the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Community Foundation; actors and filmmakers will attend, with cocktails and heavy pupu from Honolulu restaurants. Augie T emcees, with entertainment by Kit Dylan Arrieta, DJ Mats and Tim Rose; 6 p.m. Thursday; $80, $90 with opening night films.

The independent comedy stars two Academy Award-winners, Olympia Dukakis (“Moonstruck,” “Steel Magnolias”) and Brenda Fricker (“My Left Foot”), as a lesbian couple living in Maine who go on the lam to get married in Canada. Along the way, we are privy to a rare portrait of lesbian life.

U.S.-born “Cloudburst” director Thom Fitzgerald, also author of a 2010 stage play that the movie’s based on, responded to email questions from his Nova Scotia home about “Cloudburst,” saying, “In the film, there are no politics about the marriage. That’s never discussed because people walking down the aisle aren’t thinking about politics. They’re thinking about love and family and being together forever. So that’s what Stella and Dot are thinking about, and the point of view of the film.”

Fitzgerald, who lives with a longtime partner, says he “grew up with the understanding that we’d never marry. … And it made me think about senior citizens, folks that have lived 60, 70, 80 years with one set of rules, one set of possibilities, and how strange it must be to have lived one way for 70 years and suddenly have things change so dramatically. To have new possibilities. That inspired the story.”

Of the actors, Fitzgerald said, “In real life, Olympia is the femme and Brenda only wears pants. Brenda hated wearing those dresses. But they appropriately focused their energies on each other as that was the key to the film.

“They both knew lifelong loves, so they understood the closeness and contempt that comes with decades of marriage and captured it beautifully.”

SHORT FILM “Lunchtime,” showing with “Cloudburst,” is a timely take on bullying, pairing a semi-closeted teacher with a boy who’s learning how cruel his peers can be to those they consider “weird.”

Hawaii-based director Keo Woolford, who also does some acting on the West Coast, filmed the short in California. “It’s about acceptance,” he said, and “the human side of being ostracized.” He said he’s always wanted the movie to be shown in Hawaii.

This year’s festival includes feature-length films, three documentaries and shorts from Canada, Germany, Brazil, Indonesia, Belgium, Argentina, the U.K. and the U.S. Three films are by Hawaii directors.

“We’re not showing only one aspect of gay life,” says director Brent Anbe. “Not all depictions are morally correct. Life is like that. … There are all these stories that haven’t been told — all these layers, a lot of diversity.”

–Elizabeth Kieszkowski / ekieszkowski@staradvertiser.com

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