The navaratna mala, or nine-gems necklace, is a sacred and royal object throughout Asia and often associated with the sun, moon and other celestial bodies. A few weeks ago, at the Laemmle Theater in NoHo USA, Lunafest adorned an delighted audience with a matinee-length navaratna mala of nine cinematic gems “by for and about women.”
Each film lent its own faceted reflection of women’s contemporary lives:
Georgena Terry (5:48 minutes) profiles the woman who designed bike frames with a revolutionary idea: bicycles meant for women should be designed for women’s bodies.
Chalk (18:00 minutes) follows a young female gymnast as she competes in an elite training camp while making age-old discoveries about bodies, boys and friendship.
Self-Portrait With Cows Going Home And Other Works (10:30 minutes) focuses on renowned contemporary photographer Sylvia Plachy…who is camera-shy.
The Bathhouse (5:50 minutes) is an animated short about women escaping the streets of the modern city and transformed by a bathhouse paradise.
When I Grow Up (9:30 minutes) shows us a typical morning of a struggling mother and her daughter as they sell tacos and dream of a better life.
Flawed (12:20 minutes) is a whimsical animated tale about accepting yourself, flaws and all.
Blank Canvas (3:28 minutes) introduces us to a woman going through chemotherapy, who turns her baldness into a blank canvas for self expression.
Whakatiki: A Spirit Rising (12:48 minutes) is a story about a day at the river that awakens the spirit of a woman held captive by years of broken promises.
Lunch Date (11:07 minutes) is a story about a woman whose boyfriend sends his 14-year-old brother to break the news that he’s dumped her.
Eight of these films had screened at various major film festivals, with one premiering at Lunafest.
They say the secret to writing a short story is “knowing exactly when to begin and when to end.” That rule was put to very effective use in every one of the nine films, which collectively offered an experience as satisfying as viewing a first-rate movie of traditional length. One hopes that all these films will find a cable channel savvy enough to offer them to a wider viewing audience. (And some would’ve made a charming segment on a news feature like 60 Minutes.)
Lunafest supported the Breast Cancer Fund and the Zonta Club of Burbank. (See myBurbank.com Zonta article.) Judging from the size of the audience and their reaction, Lunafest was a fundraising success as well as a critical one. Lunafest will definitely return next year.