Thursday, October 18, 2012


Pacific Rim Film Festival promotes cross-cultural understanding

The aloha spirit returns to Santa Cruz when the 24th Annual Pacific Rim Film Festival unspools this week. Originally inspired by the Hawaii International Film Festival, and dedicated to cross-cultural understanding around the theme, "When Strangers Meet," the six-day event runs October 19-24, offering twenty films from countries all around the Pacific Rim at five venues countywide. In addition to the Del Mar and the Rio, festival films will also screen at the Riverfront Twin, Watsonville Center, Cabrillo College, and the Crocker Theater at Cabrillo College. As always, all films are screened free of charge to the public, with the exception of the closing night benefit.

The biggest crowd-pleaser of the Festival may be the opening night offering, THE TOPP TWINS: UNTOUCHABLE GIRLS (New Zealand, 2009, 100 minutes) Leanne Pooley's delightful documentary introduces us to two of New Zealand's most beloved cultural icons: Jools and Lynda Topp. Farm-bred twin sisters who started out as street-corner buskers, singing, yodeling, and playing guitar, they are also cheerfully upbeat lesbians, and tireless anti-nuke, pro-civil rights activists.

As comediennes, the twins are like a two-woman Monty Python troupe with a rotating cast of comic characters of all ages, genders, and classes. As musicians, their songs are infectious, witty, and heartfelt, and as personalities, they are irresistible. So is the film. I guarantee you'll come out humming the tunes. (Plays at the Del Mar, Friday, 8:30 p.m., and at the Rio, Monday, 12 noon.)

Speaking of tunes, one of the most democratizing things about the humble ukulele is that everyone can play it. But not everyone can play the uke like Jake Shimabukuro. Takashi Nakamura's terrific documentary, JAKE SHIMABUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS (USA, 2012, 60 minutes), explores the life and sudden, meteoric career of the awesomely gifted young Hawaiian-born uke virtuoso, who's carved out an international career as a solo concert artist playing everything from The Beatles, to classical, to jazz. If you can't even imagine Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the uke, wait till you hear Jake's full-blooded rendition! (Plays at the Del Mar, Saturday only, 8 p.m. O&A to follow with director Nakamura.) (Read more)

For more details, check out the PRFF website or visit their Facebook page.

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