(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Reverend's Preview: SDIFF Presents Scorsese, Pitbull and The Bionic Woman


The 18th Annual San Diego International Film Festival (SDIFF) will be celebrating a diverse array of movies and artists from October 15th-20th. Produced by the San Diego Film Foundation, organizers announced that they will honor music star and rapper Pitbull with the festival’s Music Icon Award, acclaimed actress Lindsay Wagner with the festival’s Humanitarian Award, and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix series, What’s Love Got to Do With It) with the annual Gregory Peck Award.

Each year’s festival is the signature event presented by the San Diego Film Foundation, which is “dedicated to providing new perspective through the experience of film; we believe that film can be transformative and we are bound together through human connection.” Their mission is to use “the experience of film to explore issues of global impact, to create dialog, and ultimately to develop empathy and understanding.” The fest also provides an advance look at what are sure to be some of this year’s Hollywood awards season darlings.

Other honorees will include British actor Jared Harris (Chernobyl, Carnival Row) with the Cinema Vanguard Award and actress-comedian Jillian Bell (Brittany Runs a Marathon, Office Christmas Party) with the Fairbanks Award. In addition to receiving his award, Pitbull (aka Armando Christian Perez) will perform during the festival’s Night of the Stars Tribute ceremony on October 18th at the Pendry San Diego.

Emmy award-winning actress Lindsay Wagner captured the hearts of audiences around the world with her iconic portrayal of The Bionic Woman. She has since starred in over 60 films, miniseries and specials that were also groundbreaking, socially relevant and often poignant. Wagner made a conscious and courageous decision in the turbulent 1970s to use her stature in the entertainment industry to champion many causes that were receiving little media attention. Forgoing a number of feature film offers, she chose to use her significant clout to make movies that were aired on television in an effort to educate her audiences. Wagner has often been referred to as the “Queen of TV Movies,” and her films and docudramas have covered such important subjects such as healthcare, capital punishment, child sexual abuse, terrorism, domestic violence, revisionist history, and the emotional impact of breast cancer.

And then there are the movies! The local premiere of the controversial Jojo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), will serve as the Opening Night film at the Balboa Theatre on Tuesday, October 15th. This World War II satire follows a lonely German boy, Jojo, whose worldview is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (played by Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (personified by director Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. Jojo Rabbit recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.

Other prominent films to be screened at ArcLight Cinema La Jolla on October 17th will be Martin Scorsese’s highly anticipated The Irishman featuring the dream teaming of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci; Marriage Story, directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver; the acclaimed women’s romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire; and A Hidden Life directed by beloved auteur Terrence Malick. All in all, 107 films will be shown including five Narrative Spotlight Competition films, 20 Narrative Competition films, nine Documentary Competition films, and 66 Short films.

Among the festival’s gay-interest movies are Temblores (Tremors), which will screen on Sunday, October 20th. Set in Guatemala, it tells the potent story of a newly-out gay husband, father, son, and brother and the harsh treatment he receives from his evangelical Christian family. Talented writer-director Jayro Bustamante pulls no punches and one easily feels for Pablo, the handsome, Scruff-ready lead character (beautifully portrayed by Juan Pablo Olyslager).

Also screening on October 20th will be By the Grace of God, gay director Fran├žois Ozon's gripping drama that follows three men who band together to dismantle the code of silence that continues to protect a priest who abused them decades ago.

Tickets, passes, and the most up to date festival information are available at SDIFF website.

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

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