Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis was a sassy Southern belle in Steel Magnolias, a far cry from the elderly, cantankerous lesbian she plays in Cloudburst, the opening film for QFest: The 16th Annual Houston GLBTQ International Film Festival. The movie follows an older lesbian couple (Dukakis and Brenda Fricker) who, faced with being forcibly separated, leave their home in America and head to Canada, where they can legally marry. “You forget that this is Olympia Dukakis,” says QFest Executive Director Kristian Salinas. “You forget that she was in Steel Magnolias; you forget that her brother ran for president. She just becomes this character.” Salinas doesn’t promise a necessarily happy ending for the film, which he calls a mix of romantic comedy and road movie, but he does promise a hopeful ending. Cloudburst was a festival-circuit darling, taking home more than a dozen awards for best feature, best actress, best screenplay and audience favorite. Still, Salinas says, it deserves a wider audience. “A film that deals with elderly lesbians isn’t going to play at the multiplex. That’s where we come in.”
According to Salinas, one of the goals of QFest is to highlight the stories of the different segments within the GLBTQ community. While Cloudburst deals with seniors, the documentary Rites of Passage is a look at the life of Maya Jafer (formerly known as Mohammad), an Indo-Muslim transgendered man who travels to Bangkok for sexual-reassignment surgery. (Director Jeff Roy and Maya Jafer will be in attendance at the screening.) A total of 19 screenings are scheduled at six venues for the five-day festival. Cloudburst screens today at 7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For a full schedule, visit www.q-fest.org. Free to $75.
Thu., July 26, 7 p.m., 2012