Film Festival Celebrates 15th Anniversary
The Rehoboth Beach Film Society welcomes you to the fifteenth anniversary of the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, Nov. 7–11. Once again the event will feature approximately ninety of the best American and international features, documentaries, and shorts. Below are descriptions for a wonderful assortment of LGBT films that are included in this year’s programming.
Director Thom Fitzgerald (The Wild Dogs; The Hanging Garden) evokes virtuoso performances from Oscar-winning actresses Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker in this uproarious dramedy about two women, lovers for 31 years, who must go on the run in order to stay together. Dukakis plays Stella, an antagonistic, foul-mouthed old gruff who lives with her long-time lover, the near-blind and slightly dotty Dot (Fricker), in their bucolic home by the sea. When Dot’s neurotic granddaughter Molly shows up, announcing that she’s putting Dot in an old folks home, Stella throws her out, giving her an earful in the process. Not to be put off, Molly returns with a policeman and takes Dot away, leaving Stella bereft, but not beaten. Stella soon breaks her out of the home, and the two head for Canada to get married, picking up a young hitchhiker on the way. Thus begins an alternately poignant and riotous comedy that has much to say about the true nature of love and commitment. [Dir. Thom Fitzgerald, 2011, Canada, 35mm, 93 mins.]
Facing Mirrors (Aynehaye Rooberoo)
The film is a captivating account of a relationship that is being forged across the divides of class, faith, and gender identity. Poverty-stricken after her husband’s incarceration, Rana drives a taxi on the sly to support herself and her young son. When she picks up a fare who pleads to be driven far outside of Tehran, Rana is reluctant to take the job, but is eventually swayed by the money that wealthy Adineh promises to pay. During their journey, Adineh, who prefers to be called Eddie, reveals that he is transgender and attempting to flee an unwanted marriage that was orchestrated by his tyrannical father. Eddie is desperate to get to Germany where he had already begun the sex reassignment process before being tricked into returning to his father’s home. Conservative Rana is horrified and tries to get away, but a twist of fate binds her to Adineh, forcing Rana to confront her prejudice. Facing Mirrors does not shy away from the difficulties faced by its main characters, and at its core is an engaging tale of friendship and redemption. [Dir. Negar Azarbayjani, 2011, Iran, 35mm, 98 mins. In Persian with English subtitles.]
For 80 Days (80 Egunean)
Abandoned by her daughter and ignored by her husband, 70-year-old Axun, is living out a traditional life in a Basque farmhouse with little in the way of happiness or fun. Out of a sense of duty, she begins visiting her comatose ex-son-in-law in the hospital. Axun soon realizes that the high-spirited woman visiting the patient in the next bed is in fact her childhood friend Maite from 50 years ago. The two women revive their friendship, but hit a brick wall when Maite reveals her lesbianism to the unworldly Axun. When the memory of a fateful kiss between the women resurfaces, Axun finds herself caught between a late-blooming but all-consuming passion, and her sense of obligation. Maite, on the other hand, has been out for 50 years and finds Axun’s conservatism grating. Will Axun take her chance at love and follow her heart, or succumb to the call of duty? For 80 Days is an utterly engrossing and charming film which is made all the better for outstanding performances. [Dir. Jon Garao, 2011, Spain, HD CAM, 104 mins. In Basque with English subtitles.]
If you think the title sounds familiar, Gayby, written and directed by Jonathan Lisecki, is a feature film based on the award winning short film that has screened at over 100 film festivals, including RBIFF. Jenn and Matt are best friends from college who are now in their 30s. Single by choice, Jenn spends her days teaching hot yoga and running errands for her boss. Matt suffers from comic-book writer’s block and can’t get over his ex-boyfriend. They decide to fulfill a youthful promise to have a child together…the old-fashioned way. Can they navigate the serious and unexpected snags they hit as they attempt to get their careers and dating lives back on track in preparation for parenthood? Gayby is an irreverent comedy about friendship, growing older, sex, loneliness, and the family you chose. [Dir. Jonathan Lisecki, 2012, US, HD CAM, 88 mins.]
In The Family
In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And a good life it is. When Cody dies suddenly in a car accident, Joey and Chip struggle to find their footing again. Just as they begin to, Cody’s will reveals that he named his sister as Chip’s guardian. The years of Joey’s acceptance into the family unravel as Chip is taken away from him. In his now solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are. Armed with their comfort and inspired by memories of Cody, Joey finds a path to peace with the family and becomes closer to his son. The director, Patrick Wang allows the film’s ambitious length to patiently interweave flashback sequences that reveal the complex nature of Cody’s relationship with Joey, their relationship with Cody’s family, and Joey’s relationship to his orphaned past. Rarely has the nature of what it means to be in a family been examined with such rewarding nuance. [Dir. Patrick Wang, 2011, US, 35mm, 169 mins.]
Keep The Lights On
Keep the Lights On chronicles the emotionally and sexually charged journey through the love, addiction, and friendship of two men. Documentary filmmaker Erik and closeted lawyer Paul meet through a casual encounter, but they find a deeper connection and become a couple. Individually and together, they are risk takers, compulsive, and fueled by drugs and sex. In an almost decade-long relationship defined by highs, lows, and dysfunctional patterns, Erik struggles to negotiate his own boundaries and dignity and to be true to himself. Keep the Lights On is shot with a grainy beauty that transports us to its late ’90s setting. It resonates with textures of New York City, accentuated by disco beats and a mournful cello. Danish actor Thure Lindhardt, who embodies Erik’s isolation and vulnerability with a gentle presence, anchors Director Ira Sachs’s fearlessly personal screenplay. Harrowing and romantic, visceral and intellectual, Keep the Lights On is a moving film that looks at love and all of its manifestations, taking it to dark depths and bringing it back to a place of grace. [Dir. Ira Sachs, 2012, US, DCP, 101 mins.]
Romance can unfold at the most inopportune moments, and that’s precisely what happens to hetero-inclined Mia and self-aware lesbian Frida, two 30-something career women who meet at a party celebrating the engagement of Frida’s mother and Mia’s father. While the two women’s status as future stepsisters is a formidable obstacle, not to mention Mia’s own engagement to a man, the two begin a passionate emotional and erotic dialogue that leads to significant conflict between their loved ones and families. Their parents, in particular, must wrestle with the collision of the personal and political that their daughters’ evolving relationship creates. From the beginning, director Alexandra-Therese Keining fashions an organic, nuanced viewpoint of Mia and Frida’s unfolding romance. Thanks to the intricacies that drive the plot, the resulting story arc wisely sidesteps clichéd melodrama and gains significant momentum via the actresses’ obvious chemistry and genuinely empathetic performances. [Dir. Alexandra-Therese Keining, 2011, Sweden, HD Cam, 107 mins. In Swedish with English subtitles.]
Let My People Go!
A Nordic gay couple seeks reconciliation after their fantasia existence implodes in Let My People Go! a kitschy romantic comedy fusing Jewish and gay cultures. Nebbishy Ruben lives with his pretty, blond boyfriend while delivering mail in small town Finland. A money parcel mix-up ends in a lover’s quarrel, sending a tearful Ruben back to Paris and his devout but dysfunctional Jewish family. With Passover approaching, much melodrama ensues involving the ditzy matriarch, philandering father, ill-tempered brother and unhappily married sister. Making matters worse, Ruben must repel the advances of a closeted family friend and Jewish community elder, Maurice Goldberg. Lavish to behold, this absurdist comedy offers an inspired marriage of camp and farce that both celebrates and sends up gay and Jewish stereotypes in a deliciously perverse fairytale that milks laughter from every madcap situation. [Dir. Mikael Buch, 2011, France, 35mm, 86 mins. In French and Finnish with English subtitles.]
When Margarita, an illegal Mexican nanny, is fired by her cash-strapped yuppie employers, it sets in motion a chain of events that leaves her torn between loyalties and the law. Desperately in love, but feeling rejected by her shy, commitment-phobic girlfriend, Margarita becomes resigned to starting a new life back home in Mexico. The family quickly discovers that Margarita’s modest salary is the only good investment they’ve ever made and hatches a series of ill-conceived schemes to keep her in the country. Suddenly, it seems like everyone wants to save Margarita, everyone that is, except the one person she actually wants to be saved by. In the guise of a family drama, Margarita looks, through the eyes of a hard-working illegal, at social injustice as it relates to class, race and immigration policy. With warmth, humor, and candor, Margarita also tells the story of the disillusionment, resentment, and alienation that inhabit the margins of our closest relationships. [Dirs. Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, 2012, Canada, DCP, 91 mins.]
Out In The Dark (Alata)
Nimer, a Palestinian student, is dreaming of a better life abroad. One fateful night he meets Roy, an Israeli lawyer, and the two fall in love. As their relationship deepens, Nimer is confronted with the harsh realities of a Palestinian society that refuses to accept him for his sexual identity, and an Israeli society that rejects him for his nationality. When his close friend is caught hiding illegally in Tel Aviv and sent back to the West Bank, where he is brutally murdered, Nimer must choose between the life he thought he wanted and his love for Roy. First time director Michael Mayer crafts a romantic drama that refuses to play it safe and in doing so captures the intensity of a relationship that is put under immense pressure every single day. Love between barriers leads to a life in the shadows and being left out in the dark. [Dir, Michael Mayer, 2012, US/Israel/ Occupied Palestinian Territory, HD CAM, 96 Mins. In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles.]
Time To Spare (Alle Tijd)
Maarten, a gay, 40-something music teacher, goes through empty nest syndrome when his savvy younger sister Molly decides to leave the home the two have long shared, to move in with her boyfriend. Her departure does open up new opportunities to him, however, when he meets Arthur, a closeted but very attractive man, and the two hit it off despite their differences. All does not go smoothly in either couple’s relationship, and soon Molly is moving back home and reconsidering her options even as Maarten’s mate Arthur reconsiders his own. Can true love ever be found in a world where all truth is relative? First time feature film writer/director Job Gosschalk evokes terrific performances from his gifted cast in this vividly rendered seriocomic melodrama. The complexity of characters and storyline combine to create a richly moving tale that evokes both laughter and tears. [Dir. Job Gosschalk, 2011, Netherlands, 35mm, 100 mins. In Dutch with English subtitles.]
Yossi (Ha-Sippur Shel Yossi)
Ten years after Yossi and Jagger, the tragic love story of two IDF officers serving in Lebanon, director Eytan Fox returns to find out what has happened with Yossi. Dr. Yossi Hoffman has become a valued and dedicated cardiologist, often using his work as a way to escape his anguished life. He lives alone, still closeted, unable to break through the walls and defenses built around him since the death of his lover. Even his co-workers find it almost impossible to get close to him. His daily routine at the hospital is shaken up by the arrival of a mysterious woman. He follows her, and through the surprising connection they make, receives a rare opportunity to deal with his trauma. Yossi then travels to the southern city of Eilat. Surrounded by sea and sand dunes, he meets a group of young Israeli IDF officers, among them Tom, a handsome and self-confident openly gay man, who represents a new world, different from the one that shaped Yossi. [Dir. Eytan Fox, 2012, Israel, DCP, 84 mins. In Hebrew and English with English subtitles.]
You’ve just read about a few of the films to be presented at this year’s Festival. There are many more films that will pique your interest. Even the non-film enthusiast will find something at the Film Festival. Live in the Lounge offers the ever popular Dogfish Head Beer Tasting, this year’s Italian Sing-along, and so much more. For all film descriptions, screening times, ticket sales information, and details about other activities, please visit the Rehoboth Beach Film Society website. Attend this event and you’ll understand why people make this part of their fall schedule.