Here are 15 things I'm looking forward to at the Newport Beach Film Festival, which kicks off tonight and continues through April 29. These are based on preview screenings, festival descriptions and even less-informed nonsense.
1) Bai Ling on the red carpet tonight. Years ago, a colleague showed me an illustration he had whipped up to go with a story on women and porn. The illo seemed to revolve around a shapely woman in the center. "Who is that?" I asked. Bai Ling was the answer. "Who is Bai Ling?" I asked. She was the most downloaded somesuch on the Internet was the answer. "What's the Internet?" I asked. Anyway, she's supposed to be on the red carpet leading into the 8 p.m. opening-night screening of Five Star Day, which stars Cam Gigandet and Jena Malone, who are among the other "confirmed celebrities" to be in attendance. 6:30 tonight, Edwards Big Newport.
2) Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam.This documentary sounds really fun. It traces how the 2003 novel, The Taqwacores--in which author Michael Muhammad Knight imagined a
community of mohawked Sufis, skinhead Shi'as and riot grrrls in burqas with
band patches--spawned a real-life Muslim punk movement. 5:45 p.m. Tues., Regency South Coast Village Theatre, Santa Ana.
3) The Warlock of Black Star Canyon. You don't have to live in Orange County long before you start hearing freaky shit about Black Star Canyon. Pentagrams in the dirt, animal sacrifices at midnight, random killings of necking teens--the works. This documentary short from Orange Coast College's Will Gabriel shows there is much more to the Orange Hills' enclave than horror-movie plots. 3 p.m. Sun., Regency South Coast Village Theatre.
4) Machotaildrop. It's apparently like Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory if Gene Wilder's character was selling skateboards and there were Manwolves instead of Oompa Loompas prancing around. To say that this Canadian comedy--and debut feature from directors Corey Adams and Alex Craig--is odd is an understatement. But I already had myself at "It's apparently like Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory . . ." 2 p.m. Sun., Edwards Island Cinemas.
5) 8: The Mormon Proposition. Reed Cowman and Steven Greensheet's documentary, which made its world premiere at the last Sundance Film Festival, shows the Mormon Church was not only more responsible for Proposition 8 than anyone knew at the time, but it was part of a secret, organized, decades-long crusade against the LGBT community. 8:30 p.m. Wed., Edwards Island Cinemas.