We Got Bruce!

Bruce Vilanch Special Guest At Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival

Honolulu Bulletin
Taste the rainbow
May 20, 2009

For its 20th anniversary celebration, the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival breezes back into town this week with films from l2 countries, dance, music, a “gayla” with tiki bar and two special guests: Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and writer-performer Bruce Vilanch (Hairspray, the Oscar ceremonies).

The fest opens at the Doris Duke Theatre/Henry Luce Pavilion with a performance by Peter Espiritu’s Tau Dance Theater, a film short, Clapham Junction, a feature from the U.K. (see review on page 20) and a Q&A session. Closing night will feature a keynote speech by Dustin Lance Black, film awards, two short films (one by a Hawaii filmmaker), and Best Picture nominee Milk, which won Black his Writers Guild of America Best Writer award.

Closing night will also see the re-creation of an old-time tiki bar, replete with live music and stand-up by Bruce Vilanch, longtime comedy writer and star of Hairspray on Broadway. “It might be hard to recognize him,” fest director Jeff David told the Weekly. “He’s just lost 83 pounds.”

It’s a mixed bag of mostly excellent films this year, screened as matinees and evening showings Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Among the highlights are Ke Kulana He Mahu (Hawaii), Trinidad (U.S.A.), When Kiran Met Karen (India), Soundless Wind Chime (Hong Kong/Switzerland), Ferron (Canada, World Premiere), Finding Family (USA), Shank (U.K.), and Lightswitch (Australia). There will also be guest appearances by some of the filmmakers, fest officials said.

“It’s been a long, interesting time,” one fest old-timer told the Weekly.

“Twenty years ago we couldn’t find a printer who was willing to work on such a controversial event. And news coverage was either scant or nonexistent. Fortunately, [founder] Jack Law could provide a venue for us. But from the first year, the audiences were there–and they’ve kept on coming. We’ve got one of our best programs ever this year.”

Law is stepping down as president of Honolulu’s Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation this year, but Jeff Davis continues as film fest director.

Dustin Lance Black

A screenwriter and producer, Dustin Lance Black is in pre-production for his feature directorial debut, What’s Wrong With Virginia. He has just wrapped his third season writing for HBO’s Big Love series, and wrote the screenplay for MTV’s Pedro. He and Milk director will re-team for the film The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He received both an Academy award and Writer’s Guild of America best screenplay award this year.

Bruce Vilanch

An Emmy award winner (for writing), stand-up comic and actor (Broadway’s Hairspray), he began his career as a journalist and then as a comedy writer for Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal. He appeared at the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian cultural festival several years ago, uttering the immortal lines: “I just finished reading Liliuokalani’s book and I thought, ‘at last, a place that appreciates a fat queen.’”

Fat no more, Vilanch recently lost 83 pounds on a reality TV show. He was one of the writers on this year’s Oscar show, and is at work on a screenplay.

More info and a full program of events available at [RainbowFilmFestival.org].