Sunday, March 18, 2018

Phil attends Cinequest 28: Day 6 - March 4, 2018

Howdy folks and welcome back to my trip to the 28th Annual Cinequest Film Festival! Now originally I was planning to see five movies, but sometimes life gets in the way. However, I am not complaining at all. Life has been very good to me! But I did get to see three movies today! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the reviews!

The first film I saw was being shown over at the 3 Below Theaters. The amazing drama VENUS tells the story of Sid (Debargo Sanyal), a transgender woman who finds out she has a 14 year old son named Ralph (Jamie Mayers). Soon, Sid's life is giving him more than he can handle, with dealing with a closeted boyfriend, establishing a relationship with her parents, and learning how to be a parent to a son she never knew she had.

This was such a rewarding film to see! I've always been a huge fan and supporter of queer cinema (I was an intern at Wolfe Video while a film student) and what I discovered a long time ago was that it doesn't matter if your gay or straight, we all have the same emotions. We get angry, sad, happy, silly, horny, lonely, and depressed. We are all human!! So here I am watching Sid find love, acceptance from her parents, learning parenting skills and dealing with her sexuality while discovering herself. This is nothing new to the human race, as we all had to deal with the same issues. Congratulations to director Eisha Marjara for making such a warm, funny, sincere and important movie and lead actor
Debargo Sanyal for a commanding performance! Good news for all of you out there: the movie will be released by Wolfe Video later this year!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

My second film of the day was BIKINI MOON, which I saw back at the 3 Below Theaters. The film's about a documentary film couple Trevor (Will Janowitz) and Kate (Sarah Goldberg) who take in a charismatic but unstable homeless vet named Bikini Moon (Condola Rashad) as the subject for their film. Eventually, Bikini's presence begins to shake everybody's lives to their core and reveals that all is not right in this picture perfect world.

Along with co-writer W.P. Rosenthal, writer/director Milcho Manchevski is one of the most visually stunning directors ever! His eye captures every beautiful, funny, unnerving, and grotesque moment in the film superbly!! And it goes without saying that actress Condola Rashad turns in her best performance ever!! If this film gains more speed and recognition, maybe she will receive an Independent Spirit Award nomination!! 5 out of 5 stars!!
The third and final movie of the day was preseted by the animated short film VALLEY OF WHITE BIRDS. In the pursuit of the white bird, Sheng has to face his own inner guilt, fear, haze, after a tortuous journey of searching, born again finally. A beautifully animated short about letting go of our guilt and past in order to become who we were meant to be.

Next was the main feature ARUN,  a Thailand drama about three childhood friends: boys Arun and Kasem and girl Isara, who grow up into young adults with dreams and ambitions. However, when Isara's mom sends her off to Bangkok in the middle of the night, the boys head there to find her, but Isara is in more trouble than Arun and Kasem could ever imagine.

The film deals with the harsh reality of children being sold as sex workers. It's an ugly truth that people would like to either ignore or pretend it doesn't exist. Writer/producer/director Sarah Hanks is very familiar with this topic, having worked as a teacher in Thailand. Her movie is a narrative film but looks and feels like a documentary; it's both dramatic and unflinching look at a topic that, unfortunately, will not go away. Hanks along with student/actor and his translator took part in a Q&A session with the audience. A powerful film that hopefully will be seen by more people!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

And that was Day Six of my cinematic trip to Cinequest!! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!  

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