May 31, 2013 By Mike Gordon / mgordon@staradverti ser.com
Attitudes were less tolerant, and stereotypes were so prevalent that
some people figured he was going to show X-rated films.
“We had to educate people that these films were done by gay artists or
directors — and it was not porno,” said Law, the owner of Hula’s Bar &
Lei Stand, where 13 films were shown on a rear-screen projector in a
24TH ANNUAL RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL
When: Tuesday through June 9
Where: Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Museum of Art, 900 S. Beretania
St.; and R&D, 691 Auahi St.
Cost: $10, $9 seniors and students (unless noted); $80 festival pass, $130 VIP
Info: 675-8428 or hglcf.org <http://hglcf. org/>
“Of course, now you wouldn’t even think that,” he said. “Back then
that was part of the education process.”
The 24th Annual Rainbow Film Festival, which begins Tuesday, offers a
fitting testament to progress.
It not only has survived — and there were years its survival was in
doubt, Law said — but now boasts prominent guests, including actor
Alex Newell, who plays a transgender character on the prime-time Fox
network series “Glee.”
The festival opens next week at the Doris Duke Theatre and at R&D in
Kakaako. A red-carpet event with food and cocktails is planned for
Thursday at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
This year’s festival is the largest yet, with 18 feature-length films
and nine shorts. It’s being held over a longer period — six days — and
at two venues.
The film offerings are as diverse as at any mainstream festival, and
even that is also a triumph, Law said.
“When you look at the history of our film festival, there wasn’t a lot
to pick from way back then, and there were not a lot of movies that
depicted gays and lesbians the way things really were,” Law said. “If
you had a gay character, there was usually a tragic end.”
The festival took its inspiration from tragedy, as it happens. Law was
looking for a way to honor Adam Baran, a DJ and video editor who
worked at Hula’s and Wave Waikiki. Baran was in his mid-20s when he
died of AIDS.
“I wanted to do something to memorialize him,” Law said. “I said,
‘Let’s do a film festival.’ I had never been to a film festival in my
life, but I had heard there were gay film festivals.”
The festival has become larger than anything Law envisioned and is now
one of the oldest of its kind in the country.
AS THE FESTIVAL has grown, its audiences have expanded, too, with more
straight filmgoers in attendance, said Brent Anbe, festival director.
That broader reach was important to the success of the festival, he
“We pushed hard to expand it to be more than just a gay and lesbian
audience,” said Anbe, who joined the festival in 2001 as a volunteer
and worked for several years as the programming director.
“We wanted a well-rounded festival,” he said, “and attitudes have
changed, also. There is not such a stigma when it comes to the words
‘gay’ and ‘lesbian.’ It’s a change of the times.”
Anbe won’t name top picks among this year’s films — “That’s like
picking your favorite child” — but said the films this year are honest
“It is not your same story being told from 10 years ago, being in the
closet,” he said. “New filmmakers have brought new stories. There are
not all these compartments and labels.”
Opening-night film “Geography Club,” starring “Glee’s” Newell, follows
a contemporary group of teenagers as they discover their sexual
identity, with the club as a safe haven.
Newell will introduce “Geography Club” and answer questions from the
audience after the film screens.
Anbe said Newell has brought an honest character to TV in his “Glee”
role as Wade “Unique” Adams.
Newell plays a transgender teen who lives as a young man during school
but takes to the stage as a female singer.
“I think my character’s main message is to be yourself no matter
what,” Newell said by phone from Los Angeles. ‘I think it is very hard
for people to be themselves. I think everyone is trying.”
The part itself wasn’t clearly defined at the start, Newell said.
“When I saw the role at first, they didn’t really say the character
was transgender or not,” he said. “They sort of floated it out there.
There was just one line, a hint line, and people kept going with it.
It was kind of a test to see how it would go over with viewers.”
Newell’s powerful singing helped immensely. His character not only
became a fan favorite, but served to rocket the young actor to the
He was discovered two years ago when he was just a high school junior.
Newell competed in “The Glee Project,” a singing competition that
rewarded the top finishers with a guest part on “Glee.”
Newell turned that into a regular role and was in nearly every episode
“I made this groundbreaking role something bigger than what it was
initially supposed to be,” he said. “You don’t see too many
transgender characters on television — especially mainstream
“It’s been crazy,” Newell said. “It’s one of those things you have to
sit back and think about because you are not sure how it really
happened. It happened so fast.”
Newell doesn’t think he has accomplished much — yet. But his presence
at the festival underscores the fact that a new generation is stepping
up to address gender issues and tell stories in film.
Films screen at Doris Duke Theatre unless noted.
Tuesday, June 4
6 p.m. » “She: Their Love Story,” pictured at right
8 p.m. » Opening-night film, “Geography Club,” with an appearance by
actor Alex Newell of “Glee” ($15)
Wednesday, June 5
5:30 p.m. » “Laurence Anyways”
8:45 p.m. » “I Want Your Love”
Thursday, June 6
6 p.m. » Red carpet with visiting actors and filmmakers in attendance
(for season pass holders and VIP attendees only)
8 p.m. » Spotlight film, “G.B.F.,” pictured at right, a comedy set in
high school, with teens competing for affection from two newly out
youth (played by Michael J. Willett and Paul Iacono) who both want to
be the most popular “Gay Best Friend” ($15)
Friday, June 7
6 p.m. » “Out in the Dark,” pictured at right, with short “Toeing the Line”
8:15 p.m. » “Any Day Now”
Saturday, June 8
1 p.m. » “I Am Divine”
3 p.m. » “Frauensee”
6 p.m. » Centerpiece film, “I Do” with actor/writer David W. Ross
8:30 p.m. » “Peaches Does Herself,” a theatrical documentary wrapped
around a musical by the outré Canadian performer; with festival
spotlight film “The Go Doc Project” (R&D)
Sunday, June 9
Noon » Shorts Showcase (R&D)
12:30 p.m. » “Facing Mirrors”
2 p.m. » “Two: Roman & Nyro,” documentary about the lives of twin sons
born to Grammy award-winning songwriter Desmond Child and lifelong
partner Curtis Shaw. Child, Shaw, Roman and Nyro will attend the
Honolulu premiere. With short “Family Restaurant” (R&D)
3 p.m. » “Beyond the Wall”
4:15 p.m. » “Ian Harvie Superhero” (R&D)
6 p.m. » “Bye Bye Blondie”
8 p.m. » Closing-night film, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” a
Taiwan rom-com based on a married man’s midlife gay reawakening ($15)
© 2013 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. All rights reserved.
———— ——— ——— —-
Trans-related films of interest …
<http://hrff. festpro.com/ films/detail/ barbie_boy_ 2013>
United States 2012 | 13 min.
Bobby is a bright, imaginative seven-year-old who plays with dolls.
When his father tells him that dolls are for girls, he sets out on a
personal mission to find what he should be.
Jun 09 – 12:00PM R/D
<http://hglcf. tix.com/Event. aspx?EventCode= 572780>
<http://hrff. festpro.com/ films/detail/ facing_mirrors_ 2013>
Iran 2011 | 102 min.
Drama, Foreign, Social Issues
The first narrative film from Iran to feature a transgender
protagonist, Iranian female director Negar Azarbayjani&# 39;s highly
controversial Facing Mirrors (Aynehaye Rooberoo) is a
Jun 09 – 12:30PM Doris Duke Theatre
<http://hglcf. tix.com/Event. aspx?EventCode= 572781>
I AM DIVINE
<http://hrff. festpro.com/ films/detail/ i_am_divine_ 2013>
United States 2013 | 90 min.
I Am Divine is a story about how Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead,
became John Waters’ cinematic muse and an international drag icon.
Jun 08 – 1:00PM Doris Duke Theatre
<http://hglcf. tix.com/Event. aspx?EventCode= 572776>
IAN HARVIE SUPERHERO
<http://hrff. festpro.com/ films/detail/ ian_harvie_ 2013>
United States 2012 | 69 min.
In this debut stand-up comedy concert film, Ian Harvie Superhero, it’s
the culmination of a very personal and public journey of having been
born a girl and later becoming a self-made man….
Jun 09 – 4:15PM R/D
<http://hglcf. tix.com/Event. aspx?EventCode= 572784>
<http://hrff. festpro.com/ films/detail/ laurence_ anyways_2013>
Canada, France 2011 | 168 min.
23 year old Quebecois wunderkind director Xavier Dolan’s third feature
Laurence Anyways is a sumptuous epic love story set in 1990’s Montreal
about a transsexual man’s 10 year long…
Jun 05 – 5:30PM Doris Duke Theatre
<http://hglcf. tix.com/Event. aspx?EventCode= 572771>
PEACHES DOES HERSELF
<http://hrff. festpro.com/ films/detail/ peaches_does_ herself_2013>
Germany 2012 | 80 min.
Experimental, Music, Musical
You came here for a rock show, a big, gigantic cock show…Poised for
Rocky Horror cult status, Toronto born genderqueer, electro art
provocateur Peaches’ Peaches Does Herself is a…
Jun 08 – 8:30PM Doris Duke Theatre
<http://hglcf. tix.com/Event. aspx?EventCode= 572779>