Screen » Film

This Film is Rated 'I' (and Q, D, S, J, B, H and P)

The elite eight films of Lunafest 2015


Clear your calendar for Saturday, April 11. If you have something scheduled for that day, it's doubtful that whatever you had planned will be more inspiring or entertaining than this year's Lunafest Film Festival, which will come and go with a one-day screening at The Flicks. The 2015 edition of the showcase is among Lunafest's best--considerable praise when we look back at the festival's 15-year history.

Founded in 2000 by female employees of the Luna Bar division of nutrition bar manufacturer Clif Bar, Lunafest is a rolling coast-to-coast film festival, and this year's collection of short films for and about women will visit more than 150 communities in as many days. The festival's proceeds support the Breast Cancer Fund (15 percent) and local nonprofit hosts (85 percent). In Boise, the local chapter of Soroptimist International is hosting.

"I'm so passionate about this," said Jolene Anderson, public awareness chair of the Soroptimist Rocky Mountain Region. "We're the oldest nongovernmental agency in the world that advocates for women and girls."

If knowing proceeds go to a good cause isn't enough to bring the crowds to Lunafest, the quality of this year's films should seal the deal.

The screening opens with familiar words of caution: "The following film has been rated..." You'd expect it to see "G" (General Audiences), "PG" (Parental Guidance) or "R" (Restricted). Instead, it reads, "The following film has been rated I," which stands for "inspirational." The "I" disappears, followed in rapid succession by, "The following film has been rated Q," and then "D," "S," "J," "B," "H" and "P," representing (in order) "quirky," "daring," "soulful," "joyous," "brave," "honest" and "powerful."

Organizers of Lunafest should have added "S" for "superb," because each of the eight short films—all with three- to 14-minute runtimes—are world class. Given the fact that the films are a combined 90 minutes long, Lunafest 2015 may be the most densely-packed hour-and-a-half of artistic splendor to visit Boise in quite some time.

Below are some highlights:

The absolute best of the program is a 12-minute wonderment titled Miss Todd from British filmmaker Kristina Yee. The stop-motion animated film tells the story of Lillian Todd, history's first female aeronautical engineer. Get this: All of the characters are animated paper dolls and Miss Todd is a musical. Plus, it's being adapted into a children's book, scheduled to hit bookshelves in the United States in June. Miss Todd is destined to be an instant classic.

Another favorite is Viva, a 7-minute documentary about Viva Hamnell of Cornwall, England. "'Viva' is the Latin word meaning 'to live,' and that's what I've got to do," says 82-year-old Hamnell in the film.

The film tells the charming tale of a lovely senior citizen, but there's one jaw-dropping fact: In the 1970s, Hamnell was a vocalist with the punk band The Bricks and once stood trial for drug possession.

Known as "Viva, the Queen of Cornish Punk" Hamnell can still be seen flashing her tattoos at 21st century music festivals.

Next, don't let the title of Lady Parts fool you. The six-minute documentary by filmmaking team Emily Fraser and Katherine Gorringe, takes us into Lady Parts Automotive, a Redwood City, Calif., auto repair shop "designed with a woman in mind."

"I get a crazy, grizzly bear feeling when I see a mom being taken advantage of," says Lady Parts owner Mae de la Calzada. "These single moms especially—when a single mom's car breaks down, her life breaks down."

Also great is A Good Match, an insightful 13-minute comedy about Ann and Alex, a young couple that can't make their relationship work. It's not a problem until Ann realizes she misses Alex's mother more than she misses Alex.

Lunafest 2015 offers even more: a touching drama about a Muslim-American girl who desperately wants to be a part of her high school's cheerleading squad but can't remove her head-covering hijab (Tryouts); a girl's day out where everything is allowed (Chica's Day); and a musical treat from an all-female mariachi band that performs on New York City subway platforms (Flor De Toloache).

"Lunafest is such a perfect fit for Soroptimist," Anderson said. "It's all about living your dream, not being fearful and being willing to be a trailblazer."

Much of the proceeds from Lunafest 2015 will help fund the Soroptimist "Live Your Dream" education and training awards.

"We help economically disadvantaged, head-of-household women who want to go back to school and get a degree," said Anderson. "Lunafest is our highest-profile event; and it truly helps make those dreams come true."