Thursday, November 08, 2007

Film festival summary: day 1

The Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival (RBIFF) designated its first Wed evening film screenings for "locals". Tickets for Wed evening's film screenings were not available by mail, even to film society members, but had to be purchased locally at the film society's office. This gave more opportunities for "locals" to get a taste of the film festival.

I purchased tickets for Spouse & me for 2 films. Following is the films society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 2 films we saw:

The Bubble
Director Eytan Fox offers a sexy, modern and queer Romeo and Juliet in this story of lovers from two different worlds. Noam is a handsome record-store attendant who serves part-time with the Israeli Army at a checkpoint on the border of the Palestinian territories. An out gay man, he lives in Tel Aviv with his friends Lulu, an aspiring clothes designer, and Yali, a gay restaurant manager. When not commenting on each others’ love lives, the young friends actively support liberal political causes and consider themselves enlightened, distributing left-wing fl yers opposing Israel’s Palestinian policy and organizing anti-occupation raves. Noam’s world is rocked when he meets Ashraf, a soulful Palestinian who crosses through the checkpoint one day, then turns up again on the gay party scene in Tel Aviv. Noam and Ashraf hook up, and soon Noam is arm-twisting his roommates into accepting Ashraf as a new member of the household. The passionate affair flourishes in this “bubble” of liberal sentiment, but the world can only be held at bay for so long, as political and family pressures force Ashraf into cataclysmic decisions that threaten the love he’s found with Noam. Ultimately, each character comes face-to-face with the harsh realities that have fueled their attraction yet also conspire to drive them apart. Stern and unflinching in its mapping of battle lines, The Bubble passionately celebrates the love that brings Noam and Ashraf together, despite the legacy of conflict they have inherited.

We loved this film. The characters were so authentic that I had to remind myself they were actors. It is a realist, truthful story set in a contemporary setting. While there is a strong political message, it is woven nicely into the passion of all the characters. Raw, tender, sweet, sad, funny, shocking. Its all of these things and more. 5 stars. I highly recommend putting this on your Netflix list when it becomes available.

A year out of high school, Zach is stuck in San Pedro, CA working as a fry cook, skateboarding and stenciling guerrilla artwork on abandoned buildings. His bedroom is his oasis —he draws on the walls, in his notebook, in sketches piled up on the floor. But he squashed his dream of attending Cal Arts in order to help his sister, Jeannie, raise her five-year-old son. Enter Shaun, the gay older brother of Zach’s best friend and a writer taking a break from Hollywood to recover from a bad relationship. Zach and Shaun start hanging out, surfing and drinking too much beer, much to Jeannie’s concern. “You’re not a fag,” she tells Zach. Wishful thinking! It isn’t long before Zach and Shaun are falling asleep in each other’s arms. Zach’s slow awakening to desire is at the heart of this gritty, romantic debut from talented writer/director Jonah Markowitz. A sensitive performance by handsome newcomer Trevor Wright anchors the classic story of a young man forced by responsibility to grow up fast—with strong support from Tina Holmes (Six Feet Under and Edge of Seventeen) and sexy Brad Rowe (Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss). With a pitch-perfect emo soundtrack and plenty of guys in wetsuits riding waves under gorgeous sunsets, Shelter is a sensory treat.

We loved this film. Even more than a love story, I found this film to really be about family. Unlike many of the low-budget gay DVDs I get from Netflix, the acting in Shelter is terrific. Each character was completely believable. A very nice 'first performance' for newcomer Trevor Wright. Tina Holmes was amazing, and SO unlike her character on Six Feet Under. I really enjoyed the surfing shots, some in slow-mo, others not. The sunsets, the lighting, and the locations all worked for me. And thank god there were no gratuitous shots of 'clouds rolling across the sky' for no reason. How nice that 'Zack' was cast by an actor who actually looked the right age! So often there are 29 year olds playing high school seniors. Brad Rowe (a la 'Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss') was super-hot with his scruffy face! and the little boy who played Cody was nicely cast as well. 5 stars. Definitely recommended.

Drag Queen name of the day: Flora DaCoast

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