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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Strange Culture and Steve Kurtz!

We screened this amazing documentary "Strange Culture" last year at AFI FEST and finally Steve Kurtz has been cleared of all charges!

If you haven't seen it! GO! rent it! and watch! Congratulations to Steve Kurtz and all his friends who were able to stand up to this injustice and win! So awesome that filmmaker Lynn Hersham Leeson had the guts to make this film and shine a light on this fascinating and terrifying story of our government at work.

I love this film and think it's so important, I wrote about it last at AFI FEST saying this.

Blasting the screen with sure-footed conviction, director Lynn Hershman Leeson has crafted a powerful documentary that shines a light on the netherworld of homeland security and the artists who choose to use their freedom to question it and the state of the world - in America.

The surreal nightmare of Steve Kurtz, an acclaimed artist, professor and founding member of the activist art collective Critical Art Ensemble, began the night his wife Hope died in her sleep of heart failure. Police who responded to Kurtz’s 911 call deemed Kurtz’s art suspicious and called the FBI. Within hours, the artist was detained as a suspected "bioterrorist" as dozens of federal agents in Hazmat suits rifled through his work and impounded his computers, manuscripts, books, cat and even his wife’s body. With this fascinating subject matter and a unique filmmaking style, director Lynn Hershman Leeson implicates her viewers as co-conspirators in one of the most surreal abuses of power since the Teapot Dome scandal. Because Kurtz can't talk about the events leading up to his arrest, Leeson got Tilda Swinton, Thomas Jay Ryan and Josh Kornbluth to re-enact the artist's story. Actor Peter Coyote is also featured in the film.

Lynn Hershman Leeson follows her subjects with a seamless flow of kinetic energy—weaving together recreations, comic book art, and personal interviews—creating a vibrant, informative documentary of true political relevance. A constitutional comedy of errors, the joke is on all of us.

Idiocy rules.

Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat, I have a reoccurring nightmare that the world of the film "Idiocracy" is real. Well, it appears that we are truly heading in this direction. According to this New York Times article "Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it’s widespread." yikes.

Albert Hoffman - Father of LSD Died at 102

"I believe that if people would learn to use LSD's vision-inducing capability more wisely, under suitable conditions, in medical practice and in conjunction with meditation, then in the future this problem child could become a wonderchild." -- Albert Hofmann (1906-2008)

I used to be a bit obsessed with LSD when I was in college, I read hundreds of books and studied the molecular makeup and had a few personal fact finding missions. Then I got into meditation thanks to David Lynch and Yogi Bhjan, still what an extraordinary man Albert Hofmann, he started a revolution. I used to want to start a movement, the Shaz movement of the late 20th century. It's not too late. The elements of my revolution/movement are still a little unclear but I'm still up for it! RIP Albert Hofmann.

I love this photo for so many reasons!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Filmex Trailers on You Tube

I love these old Filmex Trailers, especially this one with Phil Hartman and Paul Reubens aka Pee Wee Herman. Filmex was the precursor to AFI FEST and last year when we celebrated our 20th Anniversary of AFI FEST, we had these trailers transferred from 35 MM.

I started my film fest life working at the US Film Festival, the precursor to the Sundance Film Festival, taking tickets when I was in high school. I have so many fond memories of that festival. It was so awesome to go back and find all this memorabilia from Filmex and hear all the amazing stories about elephants on Hollywood Blvd. and Alfred Hitchcock showing up to his premiere in a golf cart.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mickey One screens in NYC!

So years ago at the Sundance Filmmaker's Lab, I was asked to step in for a day and play a small role with Beverly D'Angelo and Reese Witherspoon in a scene for "The Polish Wedding", Reese was maybe 15 years old - maybe a bit older but she was damn together for her youth and very sweet. I can't say quite the same for Miss D'Angelo, but who knows maybe she was just tired. Anyway, I was getting a little freaked out and Arthur Penn was one of the advisors that week at the lab and he kind of took me aside and told me "don't let her get to you." And he just sort of calmed me down and told me some awesome stories about "Bonnie and Clyde" and one of his first films "Mickey One" and we went back in and finished the scene. He probably wouldn't even remember this day but I thought he was amazing and so cool to take that time with me, a young actress who was intimidated and build my confidence. So, this week I was just reading an early interview with Arthur Penn about his film "Mickey One" and I wanted to put it on my Netflix but it's not available yet.

Two days later I was reading Film Journey and read a post from Doug Cummins about the Moving Image Institute conference on film critical writing. I love the post on Thursday April 17th where he lists some of the memorable comments and quotes. He mentions Arthur Penn and references "Mickey One".

So if you live in NYC - ditch Tribeca Film Festival and head over to MOMA and see the film.

Then write me a critical essay on how it was...compared to National Lampoon's Vacation... just kidding, sort of.

Screening of Mania Akbari's film "10 + 4", Monday May 5

I love Mania Akbari's work! We screened 20 FINGERS at AFI FEST in 2004
and Mania was able to come to the festival to present her film. There
were lively Q&A's after the screening and it was awesome meeting her.
Her new film is screening at Redcat downtown.

Film at REDCAT concludes its Fifth Season with the West Coast premiere
of Mania Akbari's acclaimed second feature, "10 + 4", Monday May 5

In the wake of the success of PERSEPOLIS, that presented a different,
and distinctly female voice, from Iran, it is all the more important to
hear and see the point of view of another woman from Iran, exposing her
own fight not only with the social structure of her country, but with an
issue that concerns women all over the world: breast cancer.
Mania Akbari is a painter, a video artist, a filmmaker and an actor. As
an actor, she was the main character is Abbas Kiarostami's TEN
(basically appearing in a fictionalized version of herself.) As a
director, she won the Digital Competition in Venice with her first
feature, 20 FINGERS that caustically explores the rift between men and
women in Iranian society. As a video artist, she has produced painterly,
emotionally complex yet visually abstract "Video Arts" pieces (8 in

At Kiarostami's prompting, she directed a sequel to TEN, that
documents, yet fictionalizes, her own fight with breast cancer, using
her body as a vector to bring the spectator in and using mise en scene
to create a language expressing her fight.

Mania Akbari
10 + 4 (Dah be alaveh Chahar)
Mon May 5 | 8 pm
Jack H. Skirball Series
$9 [students $7]

West Coast premiere
Iran, 2007, 77 min., Beta SP

This film reflects my inner experience. It is vitally important to
expose deep inner truths no matter how difficult and painful they are.
10 + 4 depicts a part of these realities. What is difficult and can't be
said or heard will be seen and this will make healing possible. We have
to allow the things that must die within us to die; and allow what has
to come to life again or has stayed alive to be. If we do not resist
inner death, then real death will appear in all its strength. – Mania

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Awesome Alternative film & video screenings in LA!

No better time to be in Los Angeles!

Some really cool events coming up in the next couple of weeks!

Check it out!


Carolee Schneemann has never ceased to cross mediums and boundaries to make work that resonates with raw poetic power. From her collaged war or diary films and provocative performances to her photos, paintings and installations, Schneemann's varied creations deconstruct our ingrained preconceptions and everyday assumptions. In words, images and actions, her art is deeply personal, sharply critical, intensely expressive, and always innovative. This special evening with Schneemann features a collection of some of the most highly charged political statements, erotic episodes and domestic disturbances in American avant-garde cinema.

Friday April 25 – UCLA Film & Television Archive 7:30 pm

and at the

ECHO PARK FILM CENTER 1200 N. Alvarado Street LA CA 90026 (213) 484-8846 www.echoparkfilmcen

Shows begin promptly @ 8PM and are $5 (unless otherwise noted).

Thursday, April 24 – 16mm NIGHT: GEMS FROM THE ARCHIVES - 8 PM

Film collector Russell Harnden is back with another screening of Gems From The Archives, a film series devoted to obscure, outdated, and
orphaned films drawn from his personal collection of cartoons, educational films, industrial films, and other odd footage. Once again, a sampling of those wonderful educational films from the 40's, 50's, and 60's will be pulled from the vault and screened for an evening that's sure to stimulate your mind and make you laugh at the same time. Join us and watch as everyday office furniture takes on the employees (You And Office Safety), the pork industry goes berserk (Two With Bacon), and creepy men lurk in the local movie theater (The Dangerous Stranger). There will be many more great titles as well. These sorts of "ephemeral films" often provide startling and entertaining examples of 20th Century attitudes, frequently provoking the question "What were they thinking?" So be sure to join us for what will be a fun and "educational" evening! CURATOR IN ATTENDANCE!


A tantalizing evening of short experimental videos by Catherine Forster, Carole Kim, Xhiang Zhi', Chelsea Tonelli Knight and Kim Collmer. CURATOR CATHERINE FORSTER IN ATTENDANCE!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Underworld Cinema: The Life and Work of J.X. Williams

This looks awesome!
Tomorrow night at
The Cinefamily @ The Silent Movie Theatre
Co-Presented by LA Film Forum
Tickets - $12/ $8 for members

611 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 655-2510

Check it out!

Underworld Cinema:

The Life and Work
of J.X. Williams

Tuesday, April 22nd @ 8 pm

J.X. Williams was a legendary bottom-of-the-barrel director in the
sixties and seventies, pushed even lower by his Commie leanings. One of
the few surviving artifacts of Williams's tawdry career, "Peep Show" is
a strange amalgam of dank noir drama and cheesy journalism, recounting
Sam "Momo" Giancana's reign with the Outfit. Styled as a confessional by
one of Momo's gunsels, the tabloid tell-all traces the Cosa Nostra's
connections first to the fall of Cuba and Kennedy's mob-supported
presidency, then to a spreading blight of drug trafficking that swept
through Vegas on the way to the White House. The lineup of seedy
suspects includes Frank Sinatra, crown crooner to the mob; Babs Deluxe,
a voluptuous vixen who could shake it for a shakedown; J. Edgar Hoover,
never prettier in a dress; and the anonymous mob enforcer who sings like
a true Soprano. Noel Lawrence, the reigning J. X. Williams expert, will
talk about this misfit director's overlooked and illicit career. As a
special bonus, Lawrence will also present three short subjects from the
J.X. filmography: The Virgin Sacrifice, Satan Claus, and Psych-Burn.

I love this manifesto/mission statement on Cinefamily!

What is The Cinefamily?

The Cinefamily is an organization of movie lovers devoted to finding and
presenting interesting and unusual programs of exceptional, distinctive,
weird and wonderful films. The Cinefamily's goal is to foster a spirit
of community and a sense of discovery, while reinvigorating the
movie-going experience. Like campfires, sporting events and church
services, we believe that movies work best as social experiences. They
are more meaningful, funnier and scarier when shared with others. Our
home is the Silent Movie Theatre, one of Hollywood's most beloved and
beautiful cultural landmarks. There, The Cinefamily will provide a
destination spot for Los Angelenos and others to rediscover the
pleasures of cinema.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Garfield 2.0

I don't know why Garfield is so meta these days but I am slightly obsessed with these two bizarre websites.

My favorite is Garfield Sans Garfield.

And then Lasagne Cat where for some reason the creators have decided that Garfield needs to be acted out by live actors and distorted...

I don't know what it says about society but I love them both immensely.