Middle Row, Centre: Take 2 for Two Hits

Fresh from the success of its recent Out North film festival, the Yukon Queer Film Alliance has scheduled a repeat performance double-bill of the festival’s two most popular films, Cloudburst and Tomboy.

They’re both warm and vibrant films that regale us with moving insights into love among the very old and the very young.

Cloudburst is the story of Stella and Dot, an elderly lesbian couple who have lived together in rural Maine for 31 years. Dot, now 80, has gone blind, and relies on Stella for her love and affection and day-to-day caring.

When Dot is hospitalized following a fall at home, her manipulative granddaughter, Molly, resolves to place her in a nursing home and claim power of attorney over her.

After the granddaughter more or less kidnaps Dot under false pretences, Stella proceeds to successfully kidnap her partner from the home. But that’s only a stop-gap solution.

Stella knows that Molly will soon be on their trail, and comes up with a more permanent fix for their dilemma.

She’s read somewhere that same-sex marriage is now legal in neighbouring Canada, and reasons that if the two were to have a legal bond between them, they could never again be separated, by Molly or anyone else.

What follows is a Thelma and Louise-style road trip to Nova Scotia, with the ever-vigilant and delightfully foul-mouthed Stella protecting their back against suspicious border guards.

Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker (for protective colouration and distractability, reasons Stella). He’s Prentice, an affable young man who turns out to be a modern dancer going back to the Maritimes to visit his sick mother and estranged father.

Stella’s gruff manner and brook-no-nonsense attitude land the trio in some tricky situations, but they win through in the end.

Cloudburst is a touching and lively comedy that won the Peoples’ Choice for best film and best screenplay awards at the 2011 Atlantic Film Festival, as well as the best Canadian film award at the Victoria Film festival.

It features excellent performances from veteran actress Olympia Dukakis as Stella, Irish actress Brenda Fricker as Dot, and newcomer Ryan Doucette as Prentice.

Doucette also played in the stage version which preceded Nova Scotia director Thom Fitzgerald’s (The Hanging Garden) film.

Tomboy is a sensitive portrayal of friendship and budding personal awareness in the life of its 10-year-old heroine, Laure. It is French director Céline Sciamma’s seconffilm.

An official selection at last year’s Los Angeles and Chicago international film festivals, as well as the winner of the Teddy Jury Award at the Berlin film festival, it features a brilliant performance from young newcomer Zoe Heran.

When her family moves into their new apartment in the Paris suburbs in the summer before she enters Grade 4 at a new school, Laure wants to fit in with the local kids.

When she’s asked her name by new friend, Lisa, who addresses the boyish-looking Laure in the masculine form of the French pronoun, Laure answers, without a moment’s thought, “Mikael”.

Thus she becomes a boy in the eyes of the rest of the local kids, as they play soccer and go swimming throughout the summer.

This requires some inventiveness on the part of Laure, reminiscent of Yukon performer Ivan Coyote’s hilarious sketch about a young girl who poses as a boy in her swimming classes.

Inevitably, with the end of summer and the beginning of classes, Laure must make some decisions about her deception.

Cloudburst plays at 6:00 pm and Tomboy at 8:00 pm, at the Old Fire Hall on Saturday, April 21.

Brian Eaton is a cinema buff who reviews current films and writes on other film-related topics on a regular basis.

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