Olympia Dukakis (left) and Brenda Fricker star in the film "Cloudburst." (Photo courtesy of the Normal Theater)
By Dawn Riordan
NORMAL - This will be the third year for a collection of film screenings aptly called “Your Normal LGBT Film Fest.”
I love the play on words, particularly this year as our film selections have to do with normal lifetime situations and themes. You don’t have to fit into any group to watch these worthy independent films; they promise to entertain, educate and inspire.
“LGBT” stands for “lesbian, gay, bi and transgendered,” and the fest contains films that have stories, characters or film makers who fit into one or more of these categories. Not that it matters, because the films themselves have a universality. One film deals with a man who cannot get custody over his deceased partner’s son, even though they raised him together. This could happen to any two people who live together but are not legally married, i.e., not just gay couples.
Ditto for the New Zealand movie about a man who has to take over his family/tribe leadership from his Maori father, and must come to terms with being gay. Substitute "gay" with some other distinctive difference and you still have a movie with the theme of recognizing our differences and using them as strengths in order to excel.
My point is that these films, although presented here within the frame of an LGBT festival, are stories about people all over the world who have the same kinds of issues. Regardless of our many differences, all of us strive to have positive solutions to life’s problems. You can’t place the label of being gay in front of a problem that anybody can have and say that’s the problem. If anything, this year’s LGBT festival shows everyone that being “L”, “G”, “B”, or “T” may be a part of the truth, but not a problem.
Meet the film-makers
Our films this year are thought provoking; dramas that unfold like rich novels, and comedies that entertain. The difference between a film festival and just a group of similar movies is our special guests who will join us in presenting their films.
Director Patrick Wang will be with us to introduce his feature film, "In the Family." It takes a lot of focus, drive and hard work to put together a feature-length film as good as "In the Family" and Patrick will be here to introduce the film and talk about it after the screening.
We’ll also have both directors, cast and crew of the new film, "Scrooge & Marley." This film is not in release yet. A gay take on Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol," it stars a bunch of recognizable character actors and looks to be a very funny film. Our sneak preview of this holiday comedy is actually a focus-group screening. Comment cards will be distributed and your comments on the film are encouraged.
This is real Hollywood stuff! Hearkening back to the old days when a sneak preview was used to find out if the film needed some help before its release, that’s a fairly nifty thing for Central Illinois.
"KAWA" (2011), a drama from New Zealand on Thursday at 7 p.m.
"Cloudburst" (2012) starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker on Friday at 7 p.m.
"In the Family" (2011) screening on Saturday, with guest director Patrick Wang in person, starting at 7 p.m. T
It’s a small festival with lots to offer. We hope to see you there!
Dawn Riordan is manager of the Normal Theater.