reunions, omlettes, and bra shopping: Highlights from 2010’s LUNAFEST Festival
Last week I attended the 2010 LUNAFEST screening held by Reel Women at the Picture Box Studio. I was pleased to see that so many people – men, women, young, and old – came out to support short films made by women for women. There were 10 short films screened for the festival and while I won’t go through them one by one – let me highlight a few that moved me.
First let me talk about the short film at this year’s screening with the biggest names attached to it. I’m talking about The Monday Before Thanksgiving, directed by Courteney Cox and starring Laura Dern. The film revolves around Dern’s character, Theresa, whose anxious about how to handle the holiday season a year after her mother passed away the Monday before Thanksgiving. I admit I love Laura Dern and incidentally I have nothing against Courteney Cox. In fact I was hoping this film would be amazing and sort of explain Cox’s decision to star in Cougartown – a show that I’ve tried to watch several times, but always end up turning off within the first 5 minutes (for a review of Cougartown I recommend reading Alyx’s post at BitchMedia). Sadly, I thought The Monday Before Thanksgiving was okay, nothing horrendous, but nothing spectacular either. If you’re interested in watching the film you can view it on Hulu.
Moving on, here are 3 films from LUNAFEST that grabbed my attention:
Roz (and Joshua) is a documentary short film that addresses issues of race, poverty, and prison systems. The film follows Roz, an older black woman who was incarcerated over 12 years ago when her son was only 7 months old. In the film Roz has been released from prison and is going through a rehabilitation program. Roz hopes to reconnect with her son, Joshua, who is now 12-years-old. Though this film is very short – clocking in at a little over 3 minutes – filmmaker Charlene Music illustrates the hardships Roz faces after being released from prison. Though Roz works long hours as a janitor, she doesn’t have enough money to afford a place, and as a result she lives out of her car. Roz remains optimistic about her situation and still retains hope that one day she’ll regain custody of her son. Yet, her bleak circumstances hint that this might not happen. Here is the film, courtesy of Vimeo:
Nadejda Koseva’s Omlette, is another short film I thoroughly enjoyed. The film shows one mother’s plight in trying to provide for her family while dealing with massive inflation in Bulgaria. One of the most heart wrenching scenes occurs at the local grocery store. The mother – who is never given a name – must wait in line to place her order for eggs, flour, and other basic groceries. As she waits in line, the butcher switches out price tags for meats in a display case as prices continue to soar. The mother manages to purchase three eggs in the hope of making an omlette for her and her two children. Yet a run in with a grocery worker on her way out damages one egg, and her attempt to crack the second egg fails as the yolk and egg whites fall into the kitchen sink. In a moment of sheer frustration the mother throws the final egg against the kitchen wall. Here is a trailer for Omelette (I couldn’t find a trailer with English subtitles, but you get a feel for the film):
My absolute favorite film of the evening was Ela Thier’s A Summer Rain. The film takes place in the 1980s and follows Ellie, an 11-year-old Israeli girl who immigrates to the United States with her family. Ellie misses her best friend, Shlomit, whom she writes to whenever she can. In focusing on what Ellie and Shlomit share in their letters with one another, the film illustrates Ellie’s homesickness and the cultural shock of adapting to American culture. A Summer Rain offers several funny moments, such as when Ellie goes bra shopping for the first time, and the experience is so new and so strange that she decides to mail a bra to her best friend, who in return often mails Ellie gum from Israel. The film’s portrayal of Ellie’s wonder and dismay never feels false or forced, and her insights into the peculiarities of American culture are funny and poignant. At the very end of the film we see Ellie start to develop a friendship with the girl next door, who happens to be a Vietnamese refugee her age. Here’s a clip from A Summer Rain:
In looking over Ela Thier’s website for Thier Productions, it appears as though A Summer Rain is being made into a feature-length film. While we wait for the release of the full-length film, here is a clip from another short film, titled Foreign Letters, which continues developing the story between these two girls: