05-15 November 2020

Festivals & Events


October 15, 2019

LGBT+ at HIFF39: A Splash of Turquoise on the Silver Screen

HIFF39's programming intern Adrian Alarilla will regularly blog about his personal views on what to see at the Festival. In his first blog post, he writes about the touching, inspiring, and award-winning LGBT+ films that will screen this year.

A scene from AND THEN WE DANCED, screening at HIFF39.

(L to R) Bachi Valishvili and Levan Gelbakhiani in AND THEN WE DANCED.

In the original Pride Flag designed by American artist and activist Gilbert Barker, the color turquoise stands for magic and art. I believe this color absolutely describes queer cinema today. As an art form, cinema is magical: it transports us to other lands and lets us see stories we wouldn’t normally see in our everyday lives. Moreover, it allows us to see these stories through other persons’ eyes. We can relate with them more, even if their experiences are different from our experiences. Thus, cinema can be a truly transformative tool that can help us see through our differences and celebrate our commonalities. This year, HIFF wants to take you on a magical journey through six films.

Part road movie, part coming-of-age romance, FAREWELL SONG revolves around the relationship of acoustic folk duo Haru (Mugi Kadowaki) and Leo (Nana Komatsu), and what happens between them and their manager Shima (Ryo Narita) when they embark on their final tour before they break up. As emotions begin to run high, they learn more about each other and themselves. This is a sweet, song-filled story of young love that’s sure to become a crowd pleaser. You can catch it at Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 1 on Friday, November 8 at 6:00 pm, and Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 13 on Sunday, November 10 at 6:00 pm.

From the musical arts to the visual arts, we now move on to PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, a sumptuous period piece set in pre-revolutionary France. Gifted painter Marianne (Noémi Merlant) is commissioned to paint a portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a headstrong young woman who refuses to pose. She has to disguise herself as Héloïse’s new walking partner by day, and by night paint her partner from memory. As the two women grow closer and Marianne struggles to maintain the facade, their relationship blooms into something neither expected. Watch their story of beauty, intimacy, and friendship unfold at the Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 14 on Saturday, November 16 at 8:15 pm, and on Sunday, November 1, at 3:00 pm.

If social justice documentaries are more your thing, might I suggest CHANGING THE GAME, which revolves around three teenage trans athletes (Mack Beggs, Andraya Yearwood, and  Sarah Rose Huckman) competing in gender segregated sports. For these young trailblazers, being an athlete is as much a part of their identity as their gender expression. But they are also teenagers who just want to grow up and live their lives the way they would wish to. Watch their story unfold at Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 15 on Friday, November 15 at 5:45 pm, and Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 14 on Saturday, November 16, at 11:00 am.

Equally athletic, artistic, passionate and touching, AND THEN WE DANCED is a coming-out and coming-of-age story about Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani), a member of the traditional Georgian dance ensemble. When a new student enters the studio, Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), Merab’s world is torn asunder with this new element, who soon becomes both his rival and strongest desire. Apparently, when the film was shot in actual Georgian dance studios, the film crew kept the gay elements of the plot hidden from decision-makers, since much like the dance teacher’s attitude in the film, they are very conservative. We are so honored and excited to be screening this tour-de-force at Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 14 on Saturday, November 9 at 6:00 pm, and Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 18 on Monday, November 11 at 3:00 pm.

After a long stint abroad in the United States, a young man named Van returns to Vietnam to attend his father’s memorial ceremony. While his mother is pleased that his son has returned home, she restrains herself from inquiring further about the overly affectionate and attentive handsome overseas-born Vietnamese man named Ian her son brought home with him. GOODBYE MOTHER is reminiscent of classic Ang Lee (THE WEDDING BANQUET), Edward Yang family dramas (YI YI), and recent coming out movies like LOVE, SIMON. You can catch it at Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 18 on Saturday, November 9 at 5:30 pm, and Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 18 on Thursday, November 14 at 3:30 pm.

Lastly, my personal favorite has to be LINGUA FRANCA, a groundbreaking film written and directed by a trans woman of color that reveals the many intersecting hurdles faced by undocumented transgender workers in America today. Olivia (Isabel Sandoval) is a domestic caregiver for an elderly woman in Brooklyn, whose time living in the US is running out. When Olivia runs out of options to attain legal status in the US, she becomes romantically involved with Alex (Eamon Farren), her employer’s adult grandson, in the pursuit of a marriage-based green card. Their relationship is suddenly challenged when Alex discovers the truth about her, and Olivia has to navigate her way to her lived truth. Watch this touching, relevant story at Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 16 on Tuesday, November 12 at 7:45 pm, and Regal Dole Cannery Cinema 16 on Wednesday, November 13 at 6:15 pm.

Catch the cinema magic at HIFF! Check out our full schedule for more information.

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