Best Video partners with International Festival of Arts & Ideas for tribute concert to Sun Ra Thurs., May 12

As part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas exploration of the concept of Afro-futurism and the “One City, One Read” dive into writer Octavia Butler’s “The Parable of the Sower,” the festival and Best Video Film & Cultural Center present a Sun Ra tribute concert by Mykael Ross & Band. The concert will take place in front of Best Video starting at 5 PM on Thurs., May 12. The show is free.

Sun Ra was one of the most unusual musicians in the history of jazz, moving from Fletcher Henderson swing to free jazz with ease, sometimes in the same song. Portraying himself as a product of outer space, he “traveled the spaceways” with a colorful troupe of musicians, using a multitude of percussion and unusual instrumentation, from tree drum to celeste.

Sun Ra, who enjoyed cloaking his origins and development in mystery, is known to have studied piano early on with Lula Randolph in Washington, DC. His first noted professional job was during 1946-47 as pianist with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at the Club DeLisa on the South Side of Chicago. In addition to playing piano in the band he also served as one of the staff arrangers. Finding his calling as an arranger, he put together a band to play his compositions. In the 1950s, he began issuing recordings of his unusual music on his Saturn label, becoming one of the first jazz musicians to record and sell his own albums.

Sun Ra’s band became a central part of the early avant-garde jazz movement in Chicago, being one of the first jazz bands to employ electronic instruments (as early as 1956), including electric piano, clavioline, celeste, and synthesizers.

By the 1970s, the Sun Ra Arkestra and its various permutations began touring Europe extensively. His performances had by then expanded to include singers, dancers, martial arts practitioners, film, and colorful homemade costumes, becoming a true multimedia attraction. Their performances would often stretch on for hours, including hypnotic, chanting processionals through the audience. His arrangements of his songs, however, were among the best in jazz. He made excellent use of his soloists, especially the great saxophone section: tenor John Gilmore, alto Marshall Allen, and baritone Pat Patrick, all of whom were with the Arkestra on and off for decades.

An outsider who linked the African-American experience with ancient Egyptian mythology and outer space, Sun Ra was years ahead of all other avant-garde musicians in his experimentation with sound and instruments, a pioneer in group improvisations and the use of electric instruments in jazz. Since Sun Ra’s death, the Arkestra has continued to perform under the direction of Allen.

Sun Ra was one of the most unusual musicians in the history of jazz, moving from Fletcher Henderson swing to free jazz with ease, sometimes in the same song. Portraying himself as a product of outer space, he “traveled the spaceways” with a colorful troupe of musicians, using a multitude of percussion and unusual instrumentation, from tree drum to celeste.

The band is Mykael Ross (guitar), Pat Marafiote (keyboards), Randy Bost (trumpet), Robert Turek (bass), Sam Oliver (drums), Jarawa Brian Gray (percussion), and Hank Bolden (sax).

Film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” continues Tues., May 10, with Mauritanian “Timbuktu,” presented by Dudley Andrew from Yale Film & Media Studies

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

The first film in the series, “Two Days, One Night” (Belgium), screened on May 3. The series will showcase acclaimed movies from Mauritania, Japan, and Iran, all released within the past decade, over the next three Tuesdays. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The remaining three films are:

Tues., May 10: “Timbuktu” (2014, Mauritania, dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako, presented by Dudley Andrew)

Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)

Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

“Timbuktu,” a Mauritanian/French production directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and set in the Malian city, dramatizes the hardships resulting from an occupation of the city by fundamentalist jihadists. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, the “glory” of “Timbuktu,” according to critic A.O. Scott, “lies in its devotion to local knowledge, in the way it allows its gaze to wander away from violence toward images of beauty and grace.”

“Timbuktu” will be introduced by Dudley Andrew, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of “André Bazin,” whose ideas he extends in “What Cinema Is!,” “Opening Bazin,” and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin. With two books on 1930s French Cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMS. His current projects include issues in world cinema (migration) and comparative arts.

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Secret Cinema, hosted by Rob Harmon, Mon., May 9

Best Video staffer Rob Harmon hosts another edition of a semi-regular cult film series under the rubric “Secret Cinema.” The next Secret Cinema takes place Mon., May 9, at 7:30 PM. Along with the night’s movie, Rob shows relevant film trailers and cranks up the Best Video popcorn machine for cinema-appropriate snacking.

The movie starts at 8 PM; the programming starts at 7:30 with some relevant videos chosen by Rob.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

Secret Cinema is free but donations to support Best Video Film & Cultural Center and its programming are always welcome. For more info (including what the movie title is), call BVFCC at (203) 287-9286 or sign up for email list on the front page of BestVideo.com.

Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film: The American Western” continues with “The Naked Spur” Sun., May 8

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues with Mark Schenker’s 11th installment of his “How to Read a Film” series, focusing again this season on a genre rather than a director. Having presented two series on film noir and another on screwball comedy, he turns now to another distinctively American film category: the western. He will consider four great movies ranging from the 1930’s through the 1950’s—a great decade for the genre both in the theater and on TV—to the 1990’s.

After addressing “Stagecach” (1939) on Apr. 24 and “The Gunfighter” (1950) on May 1, Schenker explores “The Naked Spur” (1953) on Sun., May 8, at 2 PM. Admission to each is $7.

The series engages with four major filmmakers and an array of actors celebrated for their work in and beyond the western genre: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart; Claire Trevor and Robert Ryan; Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman—along with Morgan Freeman, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, and the great character actor Millard Mitchell*—twice!

*Film fans will likely know Millard Mitchell best as the studio head in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Remaining How to read a Film:

May 8 The Naked Spur (1953) dir. Anthony Mann
May 15. Unforgiven (1992) dir. Clint Eastwood

Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by screenings of the films to illustrate the points he is making—it’s like a live commentary track! His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

UPDATE: Postponed! Washboard Slim & The Blue Lights play roots & jug band music Sat., May 7, at 6:30 PM

UPDATE 5/4/22: Due to a positive covid test, Washboard Slim & The Bluelights will not perform this Saturday, May 7. We hope to announce a rescheduled date soon.

Washboard Slim & The Bluelights play Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Sat., May 7, starting at 6:30 PM. The cover is $15.

This is an indoor show so proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

After 40 years of playing together, Washboard Slim and the Bluelights has evolved into one of the country’s most versatile and original of jug bands incorporating pure Americana instruments like tub bass, washboard, jug, banjo, harmonica, and fiddle.

Adding drums and powerful vocal harmonies, this band rocks sold-out concerts, dance halls and family shows. Playing their own compositions as well as original arrangements of traditional gospel, blues, country and early rock n’ roll, their music is by turns playful, haunted and uplifting.

The band for this show is Peter Menta (aka Washboard Slim), Howie Horn, John Pendergast, Brooks Barnett, and Mat Kastner.

Rockin’ party with The Problem With Kids, The Ambulance Chasers Today Fri., May 6

Party rock ‘n’ roll band The Problem With Kids Today and indie rockers The Ambulance Chasers will crank it up on Fri., May 6, at Best Video Film & Cultural Center. The shindig starts at 7 PM and the cover is $10. (Dust Hat and Mightymoonchew, origonally scheduled for this show, had to drop off due to scheduling and unforeseen circumstances.)

This being an inside show, these are our covid protocols: attendance of 30 max, masks and proof of vaccination required.

The Problem with Kids Today is a hot trio of rock ‘n’ roll delinquents with Tate Brooks leading the charge on guitar/vox/mic head-butting, Stone-Cold-Silas Lourenco-Lang on low end bass/vox, and Reena Yu pounding on drums. TPWKT’s fun, wild shows and feverish, fashionable following evoke the Mercer Center Arts era of the New York Dolls. Fast, combustible, lewd and spontaneous – they have all the gems of a fantastic live act. With a debut album recorded at Sans Serif Studio in New Haven on the way this winter, teaser tracks like “You’re in Love With Junk” and “Fly Boy” can be found on the band’s Bandcamp site as well as major streaming platforms.

Formed in the summer of 2021, The Ambulance Chasers are a band from Connecticut comprised of Billy Scovill (vocals, keys, guitar), Nick Zaviglia (lead guitarist), as well as cousins Andrew Byrne (drums) and Mike Tobey (bass guitar). The band has been playing local shows in the New Haven area since their formation. Shortly after forming, they began recording their debut album with producer Zeb Mrowka and it is expected to be released in May of 2022. They are a rock n’ roll band with various other influences including jazz and punk.

Alison Farrell & Friends play first outdoor show of season Thurs., May 5

Alison Farrell & Friends plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Thurs., May 5, starting at 5 PM. This is our first outdoor parking lot concert/block party of 2022!

Alison Farrell is a winner of “Best Singer-songwriter,” “Best Vocalist,” and “Best Vocal Group” categories from the New Haven Advocate newspaper and has performed around the greater New Haven area for years.

She brings wit and depth to her songs, along with creative guitar playing and strong vocals. From the witty “Too Much Barbie as a Child,” “Girl From Stony Creek-a,” and “I’m Looking Forward to Never Looking Up Again” to the serious “White People Are Clueless,” “Good Man,” and “I Want to Forgive You,” plus anything else she might finish writing before showtime.

She will be joined by Cyd Slotoroff, Diane Chodkowski, and Ginny Bales.

No cover charge but please bring cash for the musicians’ tip jar. This has been a real hard time for musicians, almost all of whom have seen their live performance income dry up.

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

In the event of rain, this show will be moved inside at the regularly scheduled time. Inside, proof of vax and masks are currently required.

Great Give social hour & Brazilian music by Isabella Mendes & Flavio Lira Wed., May 4

Join us Wed., May 4, 7-9 PM for a Best Video Film & Cultural Center Great Give® social followed by a concert by the Brazilian music duo of Isabella Mendes and Flavio Lira. This event is free but we are encouraging supporters to donate to us in The Great Give® during the 8-9 PM hour.

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is once again, generously providing a $10,000 match pool for performing and visual arts organizations in The Great Give. The Bank of America Raise the Curtain Power Hour will be May 4, from 8-9 PM. Bank of America will provide a pro-rated match based on the number of unique donors that give to qualified organizations like BVFCC during the Power Hour from 8-9 PM on May 4.

From 7-8 PM, enjoy free snacks and discount drinks and schmooze with your fellow friends of Best Video.

From 8-9 PM, enjoy superb Brazilian music by Isabella Mendes and Flavio Lira (and donate to BVFCC online in The Great Give® to help us garner a strong share of the Bank of America Raise the Curtain Power Hour matching pool).

Funds from The Great Give® in 2020 and 2021 paid for the building of the deck (as well as the regular rent, utilities, and insurance bills when the pandemic crashed our income stream)! The Great Give®, which is coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, is Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s most important annual fundraiser. Hundreds of wonderful cultural and social action on-profit organizations participate each year.

The marathon part of The Great Give® starts on Tuesday, May 4, at 8 AM and lasts until Wednesday, May 5, at 7:59 PM. Advance giving starts on Monday, Apr. 25.

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Isabella started to study music at age four and hasn’t stopped since. She has been studying with Grammy Winner pianist Fabio Torres and Emmy Winner vocalist Michal Towber. Isabella is also a leader in education, studying at Carnegie Hall as part of the Music Educators program. She is the founder and teacher of IMMusic Studio, a private music school, where she teaches piano and voice. She is an advocate for women and diversity in the arts, and is leading workshops bringing diversity through music in schools and community events.

Brazilian native bassist, Flavio Lira is very active and eclectic, musical styles have never been a restriction for him, and since the beginning, he has performed with groups ranging from Popular Samba to Classical Chamber Music. Now in New York, Flavio Lira is able to fully employ his versatility as a musician, collaborating with different artists and performing in prestigious venues, such as Birdland and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

New film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” begins Tues., May 3, with Belgian “Two Days, One Night;” presented by Dudley Andrew from Yale Film & Media Studies

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

Starting on Tues., May 3, and running four successive Tuesdays, the series will showcase acclaimed movies from Belgium, Mauritania, Japan, and Iran, all released within the past decade. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The four films are:

Tues. May 3: “Two Days, One Night” (2014, Belgium, dir. by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 10: “Timbuktu” (2014, Mauritania, dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)
Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

“Two Days, One Night” is a riveting Belgium/French/Italian social drama directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. It follows Sandra, a factory worker played by Marion Cotillard, who attempts to return to work after a month’s medical leave for depression. She finds, however, that in the interim the company has offered her co-workers €1,000 bonuses to make her redundant, leaving her job in doubt. Over the course of two days and one night, she attempts to convince her co-workers to forego the bonuses so she can keep her job.

“Two Days, One Night” will be introduced by Dudley Andrew, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of “André Bazin,” whose ideas he extends in “What Cinema Is!,” “Opening Bazin,” and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin. With two books on 1930s French Cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMS. His current projects include issues in world cinema (migration) and comparative arts.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Mark Schenker outdraws “The Gunfighter” Sun., May 1, in “How to Read a Film: The American Western”

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues Mark Schenker’s 11th installment of his “How to Read a Film” series, focusing again this season on a genre rather than a director. Having presented two series on film noir and another on screwball comedy, he turns now to another distinctively American film category: the western. He will consider four great movies ranging from the 1930’s through the 1950’s—a great decade for the genre both in the theater and on TV—to the 1990’s.

The second film in the series takes place Sun., May 1, with the 1950 “The Gunfighter,” starring Gregory Peck. Admission to each is $7. All events start at 2 PM. (Schenker spoke about “Stagecoach” on Apr. 24.)

The series engages with four major filmmakers and an array of actors celebrated for their work in and beyond the western genre: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart; Claire Trevor and Robert Ryan; Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman—along with Morgan Freeman, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, and the great character actor Millard Mitchell*—twice!

*Film fans will likely know Millard Mitchell best as the studio head in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Remaining films:

May 1 The Gunfighter (1950) dir. Henry King
May 8 The Naked Spur (1953) dir. Anthony Mann
May 15. Unforgiven (1992) dir. Clint Eastwood

Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by screenings of the films to illustrate the points he is making—it’s like a live commentary track! His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.