Film screening: Sean Kernan presents his “The Kampala Boxing Club” on Mon., Apr. 30, at 7 PM

Branford-based award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker Sean Kernan presents “The Kampala Boxing Club” at Best Video Film & cultural Center on Monday, Apr. 30. The screening starts at 7 PM and admission is $7. Kernan will be on hand to discuss the film. Kernan presented a screening of his “Crow Stories” at BVFCC in January, 2017.

One hot afternoon Sean Kernan wandered into the Kampala Boxing Club in Uganda, because…there it was. Then he hung out there for the next seven years, returning again and again to film a deep dive into the far-off world of big-city boxing in Africa. He brought back with him The Kampala Boxing Club, a meditation on the rough violence and surprising beauty of the fight game as it is played on that continent.

Above all, the film captures what it feels like to be in this rarified world, so alien and so alive. Long hours honing the mind and body, then expending all that training in a few three-minute rounds, offering honor to the opponent who is trying to beat you. It is an experience that virtually none of us will ever have. Kampala is a tough town in a tough land, but the fighters are disciplined. This is how they build muscle and heart.

This film invites you to look deep and see the heart and beauty in boxing. The chance is rare. Take it! As Joyce Carol Oates wrote in On Boxing, “Life is, in so many unsettling respects, like boxing, but boxing…is only like boxing.

Motion Arts Pro recently spotlighted “The Kampala Boxing Club,” writing:

Photographer Sean Kernan’s new film is a meditation on violence.

It’s also a meditation on beauty, discovered by chance when Kernan, a Connecticut-based photographer, traveled to Uganda and went wandering through the streets of its capital. “When I arrived in Kampala, I wasn’t looking for boxing,” notes Kernan, a PPD reader, in a prolog to the film. Rather, he adds, “I was looking for lives unlike my own.”

According to Motion Arts Pro writer David Schonauer, the 45-minute film “unfolds like a journey, with Kernan along for the ride, as it transitions seamlessly from gym to ring, and from from ring to the streets of Kampala. The evocative photography captures a world and sport that, notes Kernan, is ‘so alive and demanding.'”

Sean Kernan is a widely exhibited, photographer, writer and pioneering teacher. He is the author of three monographs: The Secret Books (with Jorge Louis Borges), Among Trees (with Anthony Doerr), and Darrell Petit: In Stone. His explorations of creativity and photography have been published as Looking Into the Light: Creativity and the Photographer.

He has produced two film documentaries: “The Kampala Boxing Club,” about boxing in Africa, and “Crow Stories,” about the Crow Tribe in Montana.

UPCOMING EVENTS (Music events start at 8 PM unless otherwise noted; screenings start at 7 PM unless otherwise noted):

• Tuesday, Apr. 3, 7 PM. BLUEGRASS: THE ELM CITY RAMBLERS

• Wednesday, Apr. 4. JAZZ: CHARTER OAK JAZZ FEATURING BRETT BOTTOMLEY; NEW HAVEN IMPROVISERS COLLECTIVE

• Thursday, Apr. 5. POWER POP: THE MOLD MONKIES (2 SETS! MINI-CD RELEASE!)

• Friday, Apr. 6. INDIE ROCK: MERCY CHOIR, LITTLE SILVER

• Saturday, Apr. 7, Noon-2 PM. COFFEE & CONVERSATION WITH STATE SEN. PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE MARTIN LOONEY & STATE REP. JOSH ELLIOTT

• Sunday, Apr. 8, 2-5 PM. FREE MONTHLY SUNDAY GUITARTOWNCT BLUEGRASS JAM

• Wednesday, Apr. 11, 7 PM. SECOND WEDNESDAY OPEN MIC

• Thursday, Apr. 12. FOLK: FLINT LADDER

• Friday, Apr. 13. BLUEGRASS/AMERICANA: RIVER RUN

• Sunday, Apr. 15. STAND UP FOR STEVE SUNDAY: ANNE MARIE MENTA, THE NICK DI MARIA QUARTET, ELISON JACKSON, THE SHARP FLATS, THE WYRD BROTHERS, ME LIKE MANY, IAN BIGGS, BIG FANG, PIGEON ENGLISH (BRIAN LARNEY & ROB NELSON)

• Wednesday, Apr. 18. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNA MAY; PATRICK DALTON

• Thursday, Apr. 19. ACOUSTIC ROCK: RICHARD NEAL with THE BIRDMEN (rescheduled from Mar. 2)

• Friday, Apr. 20. BLUEGRASS: MATT FLINNER TRIO (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Saturday, Apr. 21. FOLK/BLUES: WASHBOARD SLIM & THE BLUE LIGHTS PRESENTS AN EVENING WITH 4 CT BLUES/ROOTS DIVAS—LAUREN AGNELLI, SANDY CONNELLY, JILLIAN GREY & LYNN MALAVOLTI

• Monday, Apr. 23, 6:30-9 PM. GUITARTOWNCT THIRD MONDAY BLUEGRASS JAM

• Tuesday, Apr. 24, 5-7 PM. BVFCC THE GREAT GIVE KICK-OFF HAPPY HOUR

• Tuesday, Apr. 24, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, Apr. 25. BLUES/FOLK: CODA BLUE

• Thursday, Apr. 26. INDIE ROCK: FIELD DAY, AMERICANA: LOVE LOVE

• Friday, Apr. 27. JAZZ: JEFF FULLER & FRIENDS w/ TONY PURRONE

• Saturday, Apr. 28, 7:30 PM. INDIE ROCK: BUDDIE (from Philadelphia), REDUCTION PLAN

•Tuesday, May 1, 8 AM-Wednesday, May 2, 8 PM. THE GREAT GIVE® ONLINE FUNDRAISER

• Wednesday, May 2. TRIBUTE TO JONI MITCHELL’S “HEJIRA”: JACK VEES

• Thursday, May 3. BLUES ROCK: PARKER’S TANGENT

• Friday, May 4. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: THE BOSSA NOVA PROJECT feat. ISABELLA MENDES

• Wednesday, May 9, 7 PM. SECOND WEDNESDAY OPEN MIC

• Thursday, May 10, 7:30 PM. ROCK: NOTATTOO

• Friday, May 11, 7 PM. STATE OF THE NATION—PROTEST MUSIC CABARET: SETH ADAM, THAT VIRGINIA, PAUL BRYANT HUDSON, ZOO FRONT, BRET LOGAN

• Saturday, May 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Sunday, May 13, 2-5 PM. FREE MONTHLY SUNDAY GUITARTOWNCT BLUEGRASS JAM

• Thursday, May 17. INDIE ROCK: HOUSE SPARROW (MA), PROCEDURE CLUB, PERENNIAL

• Friday, May 18. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Sunday, May 20, 6 PM. INDIE ROCK: FUTURE TEENS, more TBA

• Monday, May 21, 6:30-9 PM. GUITARTOWNCT THIRD MONDAY BLUEGRASS JAM

• Wednesday, May 23. JAZZ: BOTTOMLEY/SOUSA/MORRISON

• Thursday, May. 24. BLUES ROCK: JOE MILLER & THE HIPSHAKERS

• Friday, May 25. ACOUSTIC OLD-TIMEY/SWING: THE RED HOTS

• Tuesday, May 29, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Sunday, June 3, 2-5 PM. FREE MONTHLY SUNDAY GUITARTOWNCT BLUEGRASS JAM

• Friday, June 8, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: THE PAGE TURNERS (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Friday, June 15, 7:30 PM. ALT-COUNTRY: PAT STONE & THE DIRTY BOOTS; ROCK: HAPPY ENDING

• Thursday, June 28, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: JACOB JOHNSON (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Wednesday, July 25, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: TOWN MOUNTAIN (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Tuesday, July 31, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Friday, Aug. 31, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: DALE ANN BRADLEY (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Friday, Nov. 9, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: KENNY & AMANDA SMITH (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Friday, Dec. 7, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: HONEY DEWDROPS (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

Film screening: Connecticut photographer Sean Kernan’s “Crow Stories” documentary screens Mon., Jan. 30

Branford-based photographer Sean Kernan screens his documentary “Crow Stories” at Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Monday, Jan. 30. The event starts at 7 PM and admission is $7.

Crow 10_2010 4535 for FB_Web

“Crow Stories” is a unique immersion into the world of the Crow Indians. The film is all experience – of hunting buffalo in the Bighorn Mountains, of Sundancers rehearsing in a nighttime meadow, of the fierce intra-tribal battles of the Handgame.

The long journey began with a surprising call. Come spend a week on the Crow Reservation in Montana. Wander around, make pictures of whatever you like..

So a door opened, and for the next six years Sean Kernan went back and back to the ancestral lands of the Crow along the Little Bighorn River, in all weathers and seasons. Photographing, filming, and recording the land, the people, and the life that he found there.

Crow Stills 2013 22_WebMervin White talks about the place of the horse in the tribe’s culture, and we follow a herd as it gallops across the high pastures while poet Henry Realbird sings his Rivers of Horse. Kevin Dust recalls the unexpected audition that led to 20 years in the Wild West show at Disneyland Paris. Rising star rapper Superman offers his Prayer.

There’s a poignant moment when Etting Little Owl sings a song just for the filmmaker… and his camera. Joe Medicine Crow, the last War Chief, tells how to live a balanced life. Where else could we find such wisdom?

And once again Custer comes to a bad end, as he does every year in the re-enactment right where his famous Last Stand took place.

During six years of filming, people unfolded their thoughts and lives, and Kernan’s work was simply to listen. “I was given the enormous gift of a sojourn far out beyond my usual world. Now all I want is to pass this gift along to anyone who would like to travel there with me.” And who wouldn’t.

Sean Kernan is a widely exhibited, photographer, writer and pioneering teacher. He is the author of three monographs: The Secret Books (with Jorge Louis Borges), Among Trees (with Anthony Doerr), and Darrell Petit: In Stone. His explorations of creativity and photography have been published as Looking Into the Light: Creativity and the Photographer.

He has produced two film documentaries: “The Kampala Boxing Club,” about boxing in Africa, and “Crow Stories,” about the Crow Tribe in Montana.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Jan. 18. POSTMODERN JAZZ STANDARDS: MÉLANGE À TROIS

• Thursday, Jan. 19. GOTH/SHOEGAZE: TELEGRAM SCAM, MY TWO DADS (AARON SNOW, KRYSSI BATTALENE, DARON GARDNER)

• Friday, Jan. 20. BLUEGRASS: THE PAGE TURNERS (A GUITARTOWNCT PRODUCTION)

• Thursday, Jan. 26. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: THE BOSSA NOVA PROJECT

• Friday, Jan. 27. ROOTS ROCK: BRONSON ROCK

• Saturday, Jan. 28. FILM SCREENING FOR KIDS: “MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO” (Sponsored by Pediatrics Plus of North Haven)

• Monday, Jan. 30. FILM SCREENING: SEAN KERNAN’S “CROW STORIES”

• Wednesday, Feb. 1. JAZZ OF OUR GENERATION: JEFF FULLER & TONY LOMBARDOZZI & BARRY REIS

• Friday, Feb. 3. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Sunday, Feb. 5. FREE FIRST SUNDAY AFTERNOON BLUEGRASS JAM HOSTED BY GUITARTOWNCT

• Tuesday, Feb. 7. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “LOVING”

• Wednesday, Feb. 8. BLUEGRASS: BAIT AND SWITCH

• Thursday, Feb. 9. INDIE ROCK: JELLYSHIRTS

• Friday, Feb. 10. ROCK: HAPPY ENDING, MERCY CHOIR (solo)

• Monday, Feb. 13. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “BIRTH OF A NATION”

• Thursday, Feb. 16. ALT-COUNTRY/ROCK: NO LINE NORTH

• Friday, Feb. 17. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ALEX BLAIR

• Monday, Feb. 20. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “ARRIVAL”

• Wednesday, Feb. 22. JAZZ: THE PAUL SHANLEY QUARTET

• Thursday, Feb. 23. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Friday, Feb. 24. INDIE POP: THE SHELLYE VALAUSKAS EXPERIENCE

• Saturday, Feb. 25. PROTEST MUSIC CABARET: “SHALL WE TALK ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT?”

• Sunday, Feb. 26. “AND THE AWARD GOES TO…”: BVFCC OSCAR AWARDS BRUNCH/FUNDRAISER 4-6 PM

• Monday, Feb. 27. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “ELLE”

• Saturday, Mar. 4. CULT FILM SCREENING: TBA

• Monday, Mar. 6. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “MANCHESTER BY THE SEA”

• Saturday, Mar. 11. JAZZ: THE FAKE MUSIC ENSEMBLE PLAYS “BLACK, BROWN AND BEIGE; YELLOW, TRANS AND QUEER: MY COUNTRY ‘TIS OF THIS (A PROTEST SUITE COMPOSED BY ALLEN LOWE)

• Monday, Mar. 13. FILM SERIES SCREENING: “MOONLIGHT”

• Thursday, Mar. 16. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SETH ADAM, KATHY MUIR

Friday, Mar. 17. INDIE ROCK: DISCO TEEN 66

• Wednesday, Mar. 22. CLASSICAL: 4-3-2-1: A EUPHONIUM AND FRIENDS PRODUCTION

• Friday, Mar. 24. SOLO GUITAR: GLENN ROTH; SINGER-SONGWRITER: BELLE OF THE FALL

• Saturday, Mar. 25. JAZZ: : THE FAKE MUSIC ENSEMBLE PLAYS “BLACK, BROWN AND BEIGE; YELLOW, TRANS AND QUEER: MY COUNTRY ‘TIS OF THIS (A PROTEST SUITE COMPOSED BY ALLEN LOWE)

• Wednesday, Mar. 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: LAMONT

• Saturday, Apr. 1. CULT FILM SCREENING: TBA

• Saturday, Apr. 8. CLASSICAL GUITAR: MAX LYMAN; AMERICAN PRIMITIVE GUITAR: ALEXANDER

• Friday, Apr. 21. POP: THE DRESS-UPS

• Friday, Apr. 28. BLUEGRASS: THE SLOCAN RAMBLERS (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Friday, May 12. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SHAWN TAYLOR & WANDERING ROOTS (CD Release)

• Saturday, May 6. CULT FILM SCREENING: TBA

 

“On Broadway” film screening covered by New Haven Independent

We had a great event Monday of last week. Yale University Associate Professor of Urbanism Elihu Rubin came to the store to screen his short film “On Broadway,” part of his “New Haven Trilogy” of short documentaries made with Elena Oxman.

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“On Broadway,” made in 1999, deals with issues of redevelopment and public spaces by focusing on the Broadway commercial district in New Haven. The screening was followed by a lively discussion of the issues raised by the movie.

Thanks to Tom Breen of the New Haven Independent for reporting on this event:

On Broadway, which co-director and Yale Associate Professor of Urbanism Elihu Rubin presented and discussed at Best Video’s performance space Monday night, finds its story in the conflict between the small, family-owned businesses that had defined the block for generations, and their relatively new landlord, Yale University. Throughout the film, Rubin and Oxman interview many of the street’s shop-owners and customers, who prove to be ambivalent about the university’s engagement in the commercial district. Some appreciate the university’s investment in new buildings and clean streets; some resent its demands for high rent and long hours.

Read more.

Film Screening/Discussion: Elihu Rubin’s & Elena Oxman’s “On Broadway”—New Haven urban planning on Mon., Oct. 5, at 8 PM

On_Broadway_promo_100515_WebThe short film “On Broadway”—directed by Elihu Rubin and Elena Oxman—will be screened in the Best Video Performance Space on Monday, Oct. 5, at 8 PM. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Elihu Rubin. There is a suggested $5 donation.

A close look at the redevelopment of a single street illuminates broader trends in American urbanism in the short film “On Broadway.” The first film in the New Haven Trilogy, “On Broadway” premiered at the York Square Cinema (now defunct) on Broadway in New Haven and was broadcast on Connecticut Public Television. The film was made at Yale’s Digital Media Center for the Arts in 1999-2000, when Elihu Rubin and Elena Oxman were Emerging Artist Fellows at the DMCA.  Thanks to Lee Faulkner, Carol Scully, Laraine Sammler, and Ken Lovell.

Elihu Rubin is an architectural historian, city planner, and documentary filmmaker. He is Associate Professor of Architecture, Urbanism, and American Studies at Yale. Elihu is the author of “Insuring the City:  The Prudential Center and the Postwar Urban Landscape” and is currently working on a book about the American Ghost Town.

Elena Oxman is an assistant professor of film studies at the College of San Mateo, where she teaches courses in film history and production. After graduating from Yale in 1999, she co-founded the documentary production company American Beat with Elihu Rubin,, and they made a trilogy of documentaries about New Haven: “On Broadway” (about the redevelopment of Broadway), “Convergence” (about the history of the New Haven Green), and “Next Question” (about the legacy of the Black Panther trials in New Haven). Her essay-film, “Kmart Confidential,” explored a personal relationship with Kmart as a place and an idea, and featured the now defunct North Haven SuperK. More recently, she has turned to narrative filmmaking; her recent short film Lit premiered at Palm Springs International Shortsfest and is currently finishing up its festival run. She received her PhD in English from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 and has published articles on the relationship between film and philosophy. She is currently working on a book project on the concept of realism in cinema.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, Sept. 30. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANGELA EASTERLING

• Thursday, Oct. 1. TRIP HOP: THE FOREST ROOM, HIP-HOP: CHEF THE CHEF

• Friday, Oct. 2. ROCK: HOLIDAY PING

• Monday, Oct. 5. FILM SCREENING: ELIHU RUBIN’S & ELENA OXMAN’S “ON BROADWAY”

• Wednesday, Oct. 7. ROCK ‘N” ROLL: THE BUTTONDOWNS; SINGER-SONGWRITER: GARY HERIOT

• Thursday, Oct. 8. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI, BEN PARENT

• Friday, Oct. 9. JAZZ: THE JOVAN ALEXANDRE TRIO

• Wednesday, Oct. 14. INDIE ROCK: CHRISTOPHER MIR

• Thursday, Oct. 15. SOLO GUITAR/CD RELEASE: GLENN ROTH

• Friday, Oct. 16. TOURING SINGER-SONGWRITERS: LINDA WATERFALL, DEAN STEVENS

• Wednesday, Oct. 21. ROOTS ROCK: BRONSON ROCK

• Thursday, Oct. 22. GARAGE SOUL: ELISON JACKSON

• Friday, Oct. 23. ALT-COUNTRY: TANNERSVILLE

• Thursday, Oct. 29. SYNTH POP/ROCK: MISSION ZERO

• Friday, Oct. 30. HALLOWEEN SILENT FILM SCREENING WITH LIVE SCORE: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT

• Wednesday, Nov. 4. OLD TIMEY/SWING: THE ZuZAZZ STRING ORKESTRA

• Friday, Nov. 6. RAGTIME/BLUES: THE RED HOTS

• Friday, Nov. 13. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Wednesday, Nov. 18. FILM SCREENING: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)

Film Screening: Documentary “Finding Tatanka” with director Jacob Bricca on Mon., June 8, at 7 PM

Jacob Bricca

Jacob Bricca

Filmmaker Jacob Bricca presents his poignant documentary “Finding Tatanka” at Best Video Performance space on Monday, June 8. The screening starts at 7 PM. Admission is $5. In “Finding Tatanka,” an idolizing son—Jacob Bricca—confronts the enigma that is his father, a Sixties dreamer one scheme away from financial ruin.

Kit Bricca was a leader of the Bay Area protest movements of the 1960s and 70s with a fierce passion for social justice, but found the transition from activist to breadwinner a challenging one. In this moving, psychologically complex documentary, filmmaker Jacob Bricca follows the extraordinary journey of his father Kit ,a man whose uncompromising idealism changed the world but tore his family apart.

Kit organizes with Joan Baez and Cesar Chavez in the 1960s, helps start Amnesty International USA in the 1970s, then transforms himself into a high-flying commodities broker in the Eighties and a shamanic healer named Tatanka in the Nineties. As the financial crisis of 2008 hits and Kit’s finances fall into disarray, Jacob begins searching for answers by following his father on a series of quixotic adventures.

Finding_Tatanka_image_Web

Both epic and intimate, “Tatanka” features never before seen footage from a lost era and tells a sweeping story about the fate of American idealism, the cost of dreams and the meaning of family.

Jacob Bricca:

I wanted to make a film that could answer my own questions about my father’s identity and also portray the profound questions that many of us ask every day: What is the right path between idealism and practicality? Where is the line between dreams and delusions? in my father’s story lives the power of individuals to make profound change, but also the heartbreak of broken dreams and the bittersweet tension of expectations between parents and their children.

Jacob Bricca is an award-winning film editor and director whose work has been screened theatrically across the globe. Among the dozen feature films he has edited are the international theatrical hit “Lost In La Mancha” (IFC Films), the New Yorker Films theatrical release “Con Artist,” and two films that have shown in prime time on PBS’s Independent Lens series.  His directorial credits include “Pure,” which was one of only four American shorts invited to the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, and the feature “Indies Under Fire: The Battle for the American Bookstore,” which screened in over a dozen venues around the country and won awards at the Newburyport Documentary Festival and the Santa Cruz Film Festival.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Wednesday, May 27. BLUEGRASS: THE FIDDLEHEADS

• Thursday, May 28. SINGER-SONGWRITER; ACOUSTIC GUITARIST: SETH ADAM; GLENN ROTH

• Friday, May 29. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, June 3. ALT-COUNTRY: LINES WEST; SINGER-SONGWRITER: KYLE DUKE

• Thursday, June 4. AVANT-GARDE: ZERO DOLLAR, PARLAY DRONER

• Friday, June 5. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Monday, June 8. FILM SCREENING: “FINDING TATANKA”

• Wednesday, June 10. SINGER-SONGWRITER: KATH BLOOM, DAN GREENE

• Thursday, June 11. ECLECTIC ACOUSTIC: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS & THE CYGNET SISTERS

• Friday, June 12. BLUEGRASS: THE WOOL HATS STRING BAND

• Thursday, June 18: SILENT FILM with MUSIC: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT scores “THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI”

• Friday, June 26. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

• Friday, July 17. PIANO POP/PAINTING: POCKET VINYL

• Friday, July 31. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SAMUEL BASS

• Wednesday, Aug. 26. BLUEGRASS: STACY PHILLIPS & HIS BLUEGRASS CHARACTERS

• Wednesday, Sept. 30. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANGELA EASTERLING

Film Screening: “Danny Says” (rough cut) with filmmaker Brendan Toller On., Aug. 18, at 7 PM

Danny_Fields_photo_by_Patti_Kane

Danny Fields (Photo by Patti Kane)

A rough cut of the documentary “Danny Says” will be screened at the Best Video Performance Space on Monday, Aug. 18. Filmmaker Brendan Toller will be in attendance to discuss the film. The event begins at 7 PM and admission is $5.

“Danny Says,” the long-awaited feature film Brendan Toller has been slaving away at for nearly five years, hits the sneak-peak-rough-cut-test screens at Best Video Performance Space. Independent documentarian Toller previously made “I Need That Record!,” a film about the central role record stores play in popular music culture and how that role has been jeopardized by the digital revolution. (We at Best Video can relate!)

This will be the last test screening of the film before final edits. If you’re afraid of spoilage hold off, but if you think your noggin might be helpful to the final shape of the film; please come. Audience feedback after the film is critical!

“Danny Says” is a documentary on the life and times of Danny Fields.

Since 1966, Danny Fields has played a pivotal role in music and “culture” of the late 20th century: working for the Doors, Cream, Lou Reed, Nico, Judy Collins and managing groundbreaking artists like the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. “Danny Says” follows Fields from Phi Beta Kappa whiz-kid, to Harvard Law dropout, to the Warhol Silver Factory, to Director of Publicity at Elektra Records, to “punk pioneer” and beyond. As a reporter for teen magazine Datebook in 1966, Fields was responsible for bringing attention to John Lennon’s statement in a British newspaper interview that The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.”

Danny’s taste and opinion, once deemed defiant and radical, has turned out to have been prescient. “Danny Says” is a story of marginal turning mainstream, avant-garde turning prophetic, as Fields looks to the next generation.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Monday, Aug. 11. FILM SCREENING AND DISCUSSION: WITNESS with JUDITH STAVISKY

• Wednesday, Aug. 13. INDIE ROCK: THE LYS GUILLORN BAND, SETH TIVEN

• Thursday, Aug. 14. ROCK: PARKER’S TANGENT

• Friday, Aug. 15. POP/ART/PUPPETRY: POCKET VINYL, GLUMPUPPET

• Monday, Aug. 18. FILM SCREENING: DANNY SAYS (ROUGH CUT) with FILMMAKER BRENDAN TOLLER

• Wednesday, Aug. 20. BLUEGRASS: DUDLEY FARM STRING BAND

• Thursday, Aug. 21. ROCK: ROPE, JAMES VELVET

• Friday, Aug. 22. CABARET: RICH MORAN

• Thursday, Aug. 28. FREE IMPROV: FUCHSPRELLEN

• Friday, Aug. 29. INDIE ROCK & FILM SCREENING: AL HOWARD

• Wednesday, Sept. 3. CARIBBEAN/POP: LUKE RODNEY, FILM BY PHINEAS I. GACK

• Thursday, Sept. 4. ACOUSTIC ROCK: JAMES VELVET & THE LONESOME SPARROWS

• Friday, Sept. 5. SINGER-SONGWRITER: SABRINA TRUEHEART

• Wednesday, Sept. 10. STRING QUARTET ROCK: THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Friday, Sept. 12. CHORAL ROCK, INDIE ROCK: THE DRESS-UPS (CD RELEASE!), THE SAWTELLES

• Wednesday, Sept. 17. NEO-FOLK/RAGTIME: AMY KUCHARIK

• Thursday, Sept. 18. BLUEGRASS: RAGWEED

• Friday, Sept. 19. INDIE ROCK: EURISKO

• Wednesday, Sept. 24. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: SAMBELEZA

• Thursday, Sept. 25. JAZZ: THE ELLIGERS BROTHERS

• Friday, Sept. 26. INDIE ROCK: THE SHRINNIRS

• Wednesday, Oct. 1. SINGER-SONGWRITER: NAMOLI BRENNET

• Thursday, Oct. 2. ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC/JAZZ: GEORGE LESIW BAND

• Friday, Oct. 3. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: DAPHNE LEE MARTIN, HANNAH FAIR

• Wednesday, Oct. 8. AMERICANA: GOODNIGHT BLUE MOON

• Thursday, Oct. 9. SINGER-SONGWRITER: THE ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Wednesday, Oct. 15. WINE TASTING WITH BOB FEINN of MT. CARMEL WINE & SPIRITS

• Thursday, Oct. 23. CABARET/SPOKEN WORD: RICH MORAN & FRANZ DOUSKEY

• Friday, Nov. 14. INDIE FOLK: OLIVE TIGER

 

Rob Harmon’s Picks 4/29/4

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksThe Act of Killing (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer [co-dir. Christine Cynn & Anonymous], 2012)

The history of documentary filmmaking is filled with examples of directors exploring the nature of evil in regards to genocide, but few have done so with the strange combination of artiness and directness of Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE ACT OF KILLING.

When I first heard about the film’s central premise—to offer a few of the more prominent perpetrators of Indonesia’s state-sanctioned (and Western government-funded) purges of communists in the mid-1960s (“communists” oftentimes serving merely as a catch-all term for anyone targeted by the government, including, for example, the ethnic Chinese) a chance to re-enact the nature of their killings in any setting of their choosing—I have to admit that I cringed a bit. Oh god, I thought: another documentary about atrocities in the third world told from an aristocratic, first world perspective. What to make of a film which gives power—any amount of it—to former death squad members?

In spite of my initial reservations and queasiness, I found myself mesmerized: The Act of Killing delivers fully on its promise and even paves interesting new terrain, occupying a hypnotizing bit of cinematic real estate somewhere near the intersection of the Stanford prison experiment and Stanley Milgram’s infamous “authority” experiments, Barbet Schroeder’s GENERAL IDI AMIN: A SELF-PORTRAIT, and Errol Morris’ THE THIN BLUE LINE and his witheringly sophisticated interrogation/conversation with Robert McNamara, THE FOG OF WAR.

The protagonist of The Act of Killing is Anwar Congo, a man who was considered the most feared executioner in north Sumatra during the purges, and who is today revered as a sort of national hero, especially by the paramilitary group Pancasila, which plays a large hand in Indonesian politics. Throughout the film it is mentioned on a few occasions that Congo was alone responsible for killing 1,000 people. Two other main characters are Herman Koto, a younger Panacasila paramilitary leader who seems to be a friend and neighbor of Congo’s, and Adi Zulkadry, a fellow executioner of Congo’s from the 60’s. There are numerous other characters, as well, like Soaduon Siregar, a low-level journalist at the time of the death squads who today survives as a sort of servile and withered Brutus, refusing to admit that he ever saw or knew anything.

Congo and other members of the death squads, it turns out, were heavily recruited from the ranks of the “movie theater gangsters,” or toughs who made their living by selling scalped movie tickets to overcrowded screenings of American films. This connection to films—especially American ones—is important, as the swagger of freewheeling gangster-ism indelibly shaped the character of Congo and others involved in the executions, which has flowed into the political rhetoric of the present. That very mythology—at the urging of Oppenheimer in The Act of Killing—is finally given its, fittingly, cinematic shape.

The scenes created by the film’s subjects are hard to characterize for one who has not seen it: Some are hopelessly stiff, ponderous evocations of genre, usually war, gangster-ism, and other tough-guy antics, with even a nod to the bucolic Western. One sequence—the recreation of the burning of a village—pulses with a frightening level of naturalism while others are baroque slices of phantasmagoria, oftentimes filled with garish musical numbers and even dancing girls, seemingly designed with the same sensibility that gave birth to the velvet Elvis painting and the lawn ornament. One wonders if the perpetrators of such grotesqueries should not also be prosecuted for unnecessary camp along with war crimes, but the sequences, regardless of their artistic merits, or lack thereof, resoundingly succeed in another respect. Yes, The Act of Killing is strangely and vibrantly alive, cinematic and surreal, in a way which few films of its type ever are, the majority tending towards heavy verbosity over image, stultifying and somber atmosphere over space.

Not that The Act of Killing is fun and games. On the contrary, as the film progresses one senses that the camera, a sort of silent Socratic interrogator, has begun to wear down its protagonist, Congo. In scene after scene we see him at work on his movie and even viewing his efforts, Jean Rouch-style (see CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER in Hot Docs!), and commenting upon them for the camera. In all cases, Oppenheimer’s MO seems to be to just keep the camera running: what insights there are appear out of sheer patience, and the director seems to have had the time and money sufficient to wait.

In fact, so bracingly candid are the subjects of The Act of Killing that one is reminded what it is like to live in a land unused to having its every movement and statement recorded and transmitted via the internet and social media. For example, the leader of the Pancasila paramilitary group, Yapto Soerjosoemarno, seems defiantly unwilling to adapt to the presence of Oppenheimer’s camera: except when he is smiling for the sake of the public just about every word out of his mouth is some jaw-droppingly lewd or profane comment, usually about women (this in a predominantly Muslim country, no less). But if the statements and actions of the film’s central bullies seem cartoonishly ham-fisted and bullheaded to the extreme, then the flipside to this situation is represented in the end credits, where crew member after crew member is listed as “Anonymous,” a chilling reminder of the very real dangers these courageous Indonesian filmmakers faced in standing up to their tormentors.

As a believer in the less-is-more school of editing, I watched the two-hour theatrical version of the film but the DVD also comes packaged with a “director’s cut,” which runs about 45 minutes longer, and a number of other interesting extras. Oppenheimer succeeds remarkably in his stated intention, and with the damning revelations of The Act of Killing there may be some hope for change for the better in Indonesia’s embattled future. The word “important” tends to be an overused one in film criticism but this seminal piece of agitprop more than deserves it, a sustained and unnerving meditation on despotic acts which takes the daring gamble of making the audience privy to the despot’s febrile imagination.

(The other) Hank’s recommendations 10/15/13

Hank_Hoffman_Picks_Image_sketch_Web(THE OTHER) HANK’S PICKS 10/15/13

Journalist Jeremy Scahill is not the kind of reporter who sits back in the hotel and phones in his stories based on anonymous quotes from official sources. Scahill—a war reporter who has covered conflicts in Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and the Middle East—is not averse to challenging the powers-that-be. Author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Scahill has more recently been at the forefront of reporting on the so-called War on Terror and how government secrecy and new technology are combining to outrun Constitutional constraints on the President’s power to make war.

In the documentary DIRTY WARS, Scahill eschews the shelter of embedded journalism. Risking his personal safety, he reports on how night raids in Afghanistan, drone strikes and targeted killings in countries with which the United States is not legally at war reveal a dark truth: The United States government is unconstrained by the strictures of international law and the Constitution.

Dirty Wars, directed by Richard Rowley, plays as a noirish thriller as it follows Scahill into dangerous, lawless districts of Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Unwilling to accept the official story at face value, Scahill interviews the relatives of drone strike and night raid victims. In the course of his reporting he exposes the operations of the Joint Special Operations Command, in essence a secret army operating globally, and challenges the legitimacy of the President’s expanding “kill list.”

Hank’s (and Rob Harmon’s) recommendations 10/01/13

hank_paperHANK’S PICKS 10/01/13:

THIS IS THE END — In many of the massively popular films (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, KNOCKED UP, SUPERBAD, 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, 21 JUMP STREET, to name a few) of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, everything outside of their dope-imbibing, self-centered, immature lives can go to hell, and that’s exactly—literally—what happens in this funny parody of both horror films and the celebrity life style.

With the entire cast of young recently “made” actors (including Emily Watson and Rihanna) playing themselves at a huge party at James Franco’s architecturally overstated house, Rogan and Robinson take a walk down the block for cigarettes and suddenly witness the Apocalypse arrive.

Amid the ravaged, burning ruins of LA, the six friends wind up taking refuge in Franco’s house, rationing water and foie gras, fighting demons and, above all, testing their “off screen” sybaritic friendships among hilariously dire adversity. Even Mrs. Video, who doesn’t like horror films or lame comedies, found this film funny and entertaining.

Oddly, it reminded me of an otherwise totally dissimilar movie, THE TRIP, wherein Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, also playing themselves in a supposedly true off-screen friendship, make a tour of Britain’s Lake District to review high end B & B food for The Observer. This very funny and picturesque movie (though not, perhaps, as picturesque as LA in ruins) winds up being, through a battle of competing comedic riffs and impersonations, a parody of the stand up comedic life style.

Is Reality TV now taking over the movie theater? If so, it’s better than anything on the small tube.

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksROB HARMON’S PICKS 10/01/13

LE QUATTRO VOLTE (dir. Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)

It is no secret that as American moviegoers we heavily rely on a film’s plot in deciding its overall worth. There are two sins which outweigh all others in regards to film: a plot which is confusing, contains holes, or does not add up, and one which meanders or does not seem to go anywhere quickly—one which is, in other words, boring.

Unfortunately, for many American moviegoers the latter charge of “boring” is usually the death knell of a film, allowing for the marginalization of much of what might be called art house fare, and meaning that our mainstream commercial cinema is increasingly fast-paced, trivial, specious, and muscular: seemingly amped-up on steroids and out-of-control. The cultural stigmatization of “boring” movies means that many never give a chance to films which test their patience and the poetic boundaries of the medium, dismissing them out of hand.  Boredom at the movies, in other words, is the pits—nay, it is downright un-American!—and most would avoid it like the plague.

Yet, there is a style and vein of modern cinema which requires a greater attention span on the part of the viewer. Just think of the films of Ozu, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Bresson, Bergman, and Dreyer, or, more recently, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Abbas Kiarostami, Kelly Reichardt, Bella Tarr, and Claire Denis. Through long, lingering takes and a slow and steady editing pace, these films challenge the viewer in order to reveal something more about the human condition—either beautiful or ugly—and, perhaps ultimately, something of a spiritual or ephemeral nature. Though the “cinema of patience” appears too artsy and out-of-reach for many moviegoers there are handsome dividends to be found here, and arguably some of the greatest adventures in film. (Although I will equally argue the importance of genre filmmaking, as will become apparent as we get further into October and I begin to write more on a subject near and dear to my heart: the much-maligned horror film!)

(which translates to “The Four Times”) is a gauzy and poetic evocation of the cycles of death and life which permeate a remote mountain village in the Calabria region of Italy and its immediate environs. An old man, a goat herder (Giuseppe Fuda), makes his living off of the land. He becomes sick and then dies, but his death is far from the end of the film but a beginning, of sorts, as the camera continues to follow the streams of life, not just for human beings, but for all that is around us… even in the air we breathe and under our feet.

Frammartino has the kind of unerring and unflinching eye necessary to pull this kind of material off. The cinematography, editing, and sound design are all first-rate. The film’s greatest set piece is an 8-minute wonder of a shot wherein we witness the entropy and fall-out from the goat herder’s death: as a Passion Play—complete with Roman soldiers and a Cross-bearing Jesus—marches through the town’s streets the man’s loyal herding dog yaps at passersby, ultimately and unwittingly setting off a chain of events which results in the liberation of the bleating goat herd from their pen—free, at last, to roam the streets unmolested. This amazing shot patiently pans back-and-forth to document the action, its viewpoint both placid and remote as it observes these strange goings-on from a distance high above. A similar quietness permeates many other shots in the film, such as the erecting of an enormous tree in the town’s square for a festival, seen from an immense distance, with rooftops in the foreground and mountains in the back, as though to provide a proper scale for the significance (or insignificance) of human events in nature.

At 88 minutes the movie chugs along but never races to the finish, its ending as calm and effortless as its beginning and middle, and as satisfying.

SAMSARA (dir. Ron Fricke, 2011)

Samsara is the latest effort from director Ron Fricke and his writing collaborator and producer Mark Magidson, the team responsible for 1992’s hypnotic BARAKA, a rhythmically-edited exploration of patterns of life across the planet and a film positively suffused with the textures of Buddhist philosophy. Samsara follows in the stylistic footsteps of its predecessor but may be filled with even more of a sense of wonder and dread, more of the desire to gaze at the world around us and to be overwhelmed.

Though ostensibly a documentary of the National Geographic or IMAX variety Samsara has just as much in common with the avant-garde “urban symphonies” of the 1920’s, such as Walter Ruttmann’s BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A GREAT CITY (1927) and Dziga Vertov’s MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (1929)—silent pictures which were made at a heady moment in the development of the medium, when editing practices were being pushed to the extreme.

Editing rhythms are all-important in Samsara, with no scientific claptrap or voice-over by an overpaid Oscar-winning actor to hamper the flow, the camera merely set up in such a way as to record the action. Though “recording” here hardly does credit to the lush cinematography, by Fricke himself, which was done in 70mm before being transferred to digital, resulting in a remarkably crisp and clear image. The music by Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard, and Marcello De Francisci is appropriately somber and cyclical, helping to drive the action forward even as it forms a fitting counterpoint to the images on screen.

There is no linear story here, as one would traditionally define it, with images and sounds simply washing over the viewer, and themes and storylines slowly and methodically emerging from the well-edited-chaos. The subjects, as with Baraka, are varied and rich, and perhaps even more so than the earlier film: female Balinese dancers, the great pyramids at Giza, Buddhist temples in the Myanmar landscape, a firearms company and a prison in the Philippines, the Ninth Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a favela in São Paulo, a martial arts academy in China, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and numerous factories and cityscapes the world over, just to name a few.

Few films can claim to have the scope of life itself and really mean it; Samsara is one such movie. If its sights and sounds can occasionally create sensations of unease or dizziness in the viewer, at other times it can elicit feelings of a very human type: recognition. Samsara is like a mirror.

Film screening: “Saving Hubble” on Mon., June 10, at 7:30 PM

Saving_Hubble_poster72dpiDirector David Gaynes will screen and discuss his documentary “Saving Hubble” at the Best Video Performance Space on Monday, June 10, starting at 7:30 PM.  Admission for this screening is $5.

The film is about the successful effort to save and repair the space telescope and how that complex piece of equipment connects humans to the wider universe. Gaynes has been showing the film as part of his “Hubble Roadshow,” events that often include panel discussions about related issues and—weather conditions permitting—post-screening star viewing through the telescopes of amateur astronomers.

David Gaynes is a documentary filmmaker and cameraman. “Saving Hubble” tells the story of the fight to keep the Hubble Space Telescope alive during a complicated period in NASA (and American) history. David is drawing world-wide attention for “Saving Hubble”‘s grassroots, ad-hoc distribution campaign, affectionately titled the Hubble Roadshow. He is also finishing a new documentary feature about a pilgrimage to Israel taken by a group of nursing home residents, currently titled “Next Year in Jerusalem.” David was the cinematographer of the recent award-winning documentary feature “All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert” (Dir. Vivian Ducat). In 2005, he won multiple festival awards for his debut documentary feature “Keeper of the Kohn,” which explored the life and challenges of Peter Kohn, the 70-year old waterboy of the Middlebury College Lacrosse Team. David lives in New York City, making a living on a mix of income from film projects and freelance camera and directorial work.

From a 2012 review of “Saving Hubble” by Jeff Foust for The Space Review:

One of the more remarkable grassroots space advocacy efforts of the last decade was the public response to NASA’s plans in 2004 to cancel the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. The overwhelmingly negative reaction to that decision transcended the usual narrow communities of space activists into the general public, overshadowing the debate about the future of NASA’s human spaceflight plans—the Vision for Space Exploration—that was taking place at the same time. Those lobbying efforts paid off: in 2006 NASA reversed its earlier decision, electing to carrying out the servicing mission, which the STS-125 shuttle crew carried out successfully in May 2009.

“Saving Hubble” does provide some history about the telescope, charting the highs and lows, such as the reaction to its optical aberration discovered shortly after launch to the successful repairs of the telescope and the imagery it’s produced. The bulk of the film, though, is about the decision by then-NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe to cancel the final Hubble servicing mission, and the reaction by both astronomers and the public. The film features interviews with some of the scientists and engineers involved with Hubble and journalists who covered it, but it also includes a broad cross-section of the public as well, talking about Hubble and what it means to them. Gaynes casts a wide net here, from a gregarious taxicab driver in Nashville to high school athletes and cheerleaders in Kansas to even the commercial spaceflight pioneers working at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

View the trailer for “Saving Hubble”: