(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Reverend's Preview: Newport Beach Film Fest Celebrates the Big 2-0


Smile, Newport Beach Film Festival, it’s your birthday! A small-scale event initially, NBFF will be celebrating 20 years of growing, international recognition from April 25th through May 2nd, 2019.

The festival strives each year to bring to Orange County, California the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world. Its organizers are committed to enlightening the public with a first-class international film program, providing a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, and showcasing a diverse collection of studio and independent films from around the world.

NBFF’s global focus isn’t only reflected in the movies shown but in nightly parties and receptions. An Irish Showcase Celebration will be April 28th’s main event, with other nights devoted to Latin, European and Pacific Rim places and people.

In addition to standard film fest categories like narrative features, documentaries and family films, NBFF has developed several unique showcases over the years. These include movies centered on culinary subjects, action sports, architecture, music and the environment.

Notably, NBFF’s growth over the last 20 years has paralleled a broader interest in and mainstream acceptance of LGBTQ films. A number of productions with LGBTQ appeal are screened during the fest each year. Although the 2019 feature film lineup has not been announced yet, organizers shared that a whopping 80+ LGBTQ short films in a variety of genres and styles will be shown.

Here is a mere sampling of these many fantastic-sounding shorts:

Older Than What? – A documentary that brings LGBTQ elders sharply into focus with humor, frankness, wit and charm. Twelve seniors answer questions about aging and share stories about how they made history.

Black Lips – A lonely abalone trader is awakened by a longing he’s never explored before.

Like Glass – A club kid grappling with their identity finds liberation in NYC nightlife, while haunted by the pressures of societal norms.

Black Hat – Shmuel is a pious Hasidic man leading a fairly simple life. By day, he dutifully prays at the local synagogue and manages a busy dry cleaning business. But when his wife and daughters leave town, Shmuel steps out at night into a more complex world. When he misplaces his black hat along the way, his two lives will interconnect in a way he never expected.

Swimming – A coming-of-age story of an American-born Chinese teen trying to handle her possible homosexuality when her 3-month old half-sister seems to have stolen the attention of the entire family. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Ming-Na Wen co-stars.

Aphrodite – A crossdresser driven by her dream of becoming a singer puts her own sexual identity at stake for an uncertain opportunity to shine in Hollywood.

The Buttcheek Boys – An animated spoof in which brothers Billy and Bobby Buttcheek do their darndest to solve a really big case.

As One – A short documentary created by Orange County filmmakers explaining why Pride festivals are still important today.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin –A feature documentary exploring the remarkable life and legacy of groundbreaking science-fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 88.

Blush – A guy and his girlfriend are forced to navigate new territory when he's caught wearing her dress.

You Say Hello – A suicidal young gay man retreats to his family's beach house to end his life, but a chance encounter with a hustler changes his plans.

My Dad Works the Night Shift – Felix, a 14-year old boarding school student, spends the weekend at his conservative father's house. Felix starts a relationship with a much older boy, secretly hoping he will get caught so he can reveal his homosexuality to his father.

Hank – Recent LA transplants Hank (out comic Jason Stuart) and his husband Tommy attempt to save their 15- year marriage by entertaining the idea of an open relationship. While this might be working well for Tommy, Hank struggles to cope with the change as well as the challenges of being old.

Out of the Shadows – A theatre class at California State University Long Beach creates a play to tell the stories of undocumented immigrants, some of whom are LGBTQ.

I’ve Been Thinking – When Julian gets a boyfriend, his best friend Josh realizes it's time to reveal how he really feels. A romantic dramedy about a friendship that becomes something more, and the seeming impossibility of a perfect union.

Mack Wrestles – Mack Beggs broke records and changed history when he won the Texas state title as a transgender wrestler. Now, with high school ending and college on the horizon, the sports champion, national activist and high school hero must grapple with what comes next in this documentary.

Three Corner House – The lives of a suspicious wife, closeted husband and sex-obsessed son collide. Starring Michael J. Burg (BlacKkKlansman), Russell Koplin (Iron Fist) and Kathryn Kates (Orange is the New Black).

Silverlake Afternoon – Michael is 33 and he's never been with a guy. His first encounter is going to be awkward... and also kinda great.

All Cock & No Bull! – Relaxing in your backyard is one thing. Relaxing naked in your backyard with an old friend is something else entirely, and may have consequences.

Headlock – John, a closeted high school athlete, grapples with his attraction to a teammate in the days leading up to prom.

Homecoming – When a college sophomore returns home to share some important news with his parents, things don’t go exactly as he had expected…until they do.

Stay Tonight – This romantic dramedy follows the lives of two men who grew up together in Brooklyn, New York. Michael is bisexual and Tony is heterosexual. As life moves on, however, both men find themselves in a difficult situation that requires difficult decisions.

Broken Sunflower Hearts – When his ex-boyfriend Sam shows up on his doorstep a year after separating, Anthony weighs the impact it will have on his life and young daughter Luna.

Hiding in Daylight – After a gay purge in the not too distant future, four best friends are surviving by living in fake marriages to each other. They secretly meet once a week to see their true spouse and play a "game" where they reminisce about their former openly gay lives. But one night, emotions run high, friendships begin to unravel, and everything changes in an instant.

One Leg In, One Leg Out – Documentary in which a lively, strong-willed sex worker struggles to move from the streets and into a career as a social worker, hoping to help fellow trans sex workers find acceptance.

Mr. Sam – Today is a big day for Mr. Sam. Not only is he going to reveal to his mother that he’s finally found the love of his life, he’s also telling her that he’s gay. But Sam is in for a huge surprise: the secret he has managed to keep hidden from everyone for so long will be revealed in the most dramatic of ways by his best friend, Sandra.

Sequins - 17-year-old Paul's journey of self-discovery takes a unique turn when he embarks on his ambition to become a drag queen, despite fear of ridicule from his peers and being ostracized by his family.

Land’s End – Set in a bleak and poetic world on England’s southeast coast, this explores the magnetic relationship between Adam, a na├»ve but hopeful young man, and Michael, a charismatic ex-con and drag artist.

Individual tickets and festival passes are now on sale. They may be purchased by visiting the NBFF website or calling 949-253-2880.

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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