Lunafest is an annual traveling festival of short films by, for and about women. Since its inception in 2001, the festival has acquired a reputation for tackling oft-ignored yet crucial issues in an insightful, inventive and entertaining way. This year the festival is playing at 60 venues across the nation, twice as many as last year. This past weekend, Boardman’s Art Theatre hosted a full house as Lunafest made its Champaign stop, with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Fund and Planned Parenthood. The seven films that screened were as follows.
A Good Uplift: 3 Stars
Dir: Faye Lederman, Cheryl Furjanic, Eve Lederman
A lingerie shop on the Lower East Side of New York City is the subject of this hilarious short documentary. Its portrayal of the awkwardness and ignorance with which a man attempts to purchase a bra serves as a perfect opener for the festival, dealing with a minor woman’s issue outside of a man’s realm of comprehension.
Shui Hen: 3 Stars
Dir: Maximillian Jezo-Parovsky
A Chinese girl travels to Cuba to rejoin a family she has not seen in 15 years. The contrast between her father’s ideology and her own becomes quickly apparent in this superbly acted story of cultural clash. So well-drawn are the characters, that even the misguided father is able to retain a degree of sympathy.
Little Black Boot: 2 Stars
Dir: Colette Burson
The Cinderella story is given a modern reworking with Cindy as the misfit harboring feelings for her high school’s most popular girl. Usually clad in baggy pants and facial piercings, she goes to the prom dressed as a boy, and gets to dance with her crush. Little Black Boot is both sweet and charming.
Wet Dreams and False Images: 4 Stars
Dir: Jesse Epstein
Dee-Dee’s barbershop is covered with cut-outs of cover girls whom he and his clients deem to be the ideals of their perfect women. They are subsequently shown an interview with an artistic manipulator, whose job is to hide a model’s “imperfections” by airbrushing blemishes, shedding a few pounds, etc. The reactions to these revelations may be highly amusing, but the message about society’s imposed expectations of women are extremely perturbing.
Velvet Tigress: 3 Stars
Dir: Jen Sachs
An animated short that documents the 1931 Winnie Ruth Judd “Trunk Murders,” Velvet Tigress exposes the sensational press of the time. The animation is pretty simple, but appropriate and effective, especially during the stylized murder sequence.
La Milpa/The Cornfield: 2.5 Stars
Dir: Patricia Riggen
As a girl tries to decide whether to leave town with her boyfriend, she is advised by Angela, who tells her a tale from her youth during the Mexican Revolution. Riggen’s film treads between fable and fairy tale, and though it drags a little, it is ultimately engaging and touching.
Dysenchanted: 3 Stars
Dir: Terri Edda Miller
James Belushi plays a group therapist of a session that includes Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Goldilocks, Alice, Dorothy and Red Riding Hood. Delving into what follows a fairy-tale ending, this serves as a quick-witted social commentary. This great premise is fully realized and suitably concludes the festival.