Just finished the third night of the Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (SIGLFF) at The Crest theater – what a ride. We bought the VIP passes that got us in early and included all three nights – just $42 each.
Opening night featured a great short film called quiet de luxe, a sci fi themed story about two girls, two eras and a de luxe manual typewriter.
But the feature film (and clearly the better of the two full-length films this year) was Cloudburst, about an elderly lesbian couple temporarily torn apart by an overzealous granddaughter, who go on the lam together from Maine to Canada to get married after 31 years together.
The cast is helmed by Olympia Dukakis, who plays Stella, a wonderfully foul-mouthed country lesbian who will go to any length to protect her blind partner Dot, played by the ebullient Brenda Fricker.
At times moving, at times laugh-out-loud funny, the film builds a strong emotional rapport with the audience. We give it 5 out of 5.
Doucette attended the showing and stuck around for questions afterward, revealing that the film in just over a month. He’s shorter in person than he appears in the film, a fact he credits to his really short co-stars.
Night two featured a film for the boys – Zenne Dancer, a Turkish film about an honor killing of a gay man by his father. The filmmakers, a gay couple, were doing a documentary about male belly dancers in Turkey (Zenne Dancers) when the killing occurred – they shelved that film and started working on this one.
The story in the film revolves around three unlikely friends – a young gay bear who is in the closet at home, a zenne dancer who lives with his aunt because he’s avoiding the draft, and a German photographer who is slumming in Turkey after a life-altering tragedy in Afganistan.
The film hi-lights the institutional homophobia that’s rampant in Turkey, and features a mother from hell. The story is unevenly paced though, and the dancer in particular is narcissistic and unlikeable. The film does open a fascinating window into Turkish society and gay culture, earning it a solid 3 out of 5.
The short for night two was Shabbat Dinner, a cute story about an encounter between two gay boys coming of age.
On the third night, the festival featured 12 shorts covering a wide variety of topics. It was a mixed bag, but a few stood out.
The first film, Teens Like Phil, covered high school bullying f a gay teen, unfortunately from another very closeted gay kid who has a crush on Phil but who is afraid to show it in public.
Why We Ride tells the story of the AIDS/Lifecycle ride, and while it had some moving parts, especially the candlelight ceremony at the end, it felt a bit like a commercial for the ride.
Always Again took the perspective of a straight woman throughout the day with a lesbian acquaintance, seeing first-hand the constant, casual denial she faces about her relationship with her partner – as everyone assumes she must be with a man.
33 Teeth is a cute film about a young gay kid who is entranced by his older (straight) neighbor, and a comb.
And Prowler is a new short film by local Sacramento director Dawn D. Deason, with an overarching theme of female empowerment.
But our three favorites included two comedies:
Dirty Talk – two gay friends talk about a sexual encounter one of them had the week before. The acting was fair, not great, but the waiter was the standout star in this one. “Are these croutons gluten free?” and the waiter’s response still have us doubling over in laughter.
Better acted was the lesbian short She Said Lenny (you can see it on youtube at this link)- about a misunderstanding between a woman looking for a man and her blind date, Jenny… superbly acted, warm. and surprising, this was our clear comedy favorite for the night.
On the more serious side was the french short film La Derade – the story of a cute gay French couple with a couple surprising and heart-wrenching twists – and one of the cutest French actors we’ve seen in awhile.
For dinner this festival, we visited three of our Sacramento favorites.
First night, Zocalo, best Mexican restaurant in the city. Chef Ryan Rose serves up modern mexican cuisine in a bright, welcoming setting. The enchiladas guanajuato are a favorite, as well as the arrachera steak burritos.
Night two was a Masullo Pizza night with the best waiter in Sacramento, our friend Andrea – we love practicing our Italian with him, and the pizzas and ice cream sandwiches are divine. Really cool carved wooden tables give this place extra warmth.
Night three and Pizza Rock, our other favorite Sacramento pizza place, just across the street from The Crest. Fantastic calzone and lasagna – though the cheese on the lasagna was a bit smoky, so if you like it that way, you’ll be in heaven. The lasagna is also HUGE. Seriously. The star here is the atmosphere, from the Michelangelo-meets-rock and roll ceiling fresco to the Semi Truck/DJ Booth bursting out of the wall above the bar.
The festival is over for another year, but there’s another event – the “8″ play – coming to the crest next Saturday. Bring your festival ticket stubs and save $1o on the recently reduced prices for the play. And you can mark your calendars for 2013 – the festival will return from October 10th-12th next year.