Monday, June 30, 2008

Linking Feller: June

June has been a busy month for me, but a rewarding one. At the Film of the Month Club, where we've been discussing the 1915 Cecil B. DeMille meller the Golden Chance, I've put up a second post, this time a consideration of an uncredited side character. Is he played by Utake Abe, the Japanese film director who took a several-year sojourn in Hollywood where he appeared in films directed by DeMille, Frank Borzage, Frank Lloyd and others? One source says yes, but one source is hardly enough to confirm something in the often-murky history of the silent era; check out my post and see what you think.

Though I'm quite happy with my contribution to the Film of the Month Club, both my Utake Abe query and my first post on DeMille's theatrical origins and his continuity editing, I'm also happy to have been shown up by a pair of other contributions, namely Marilyn Ferdinand's comparison of the Golden Chance to another DeMille silent, the 1918 Don't Chance Your Husband. In her piece and the ensuing comments, she turns up the intriguing idea that the scenario for the Golden Chance was at least partially autobiographical for DeMille. And Film of the Month Club founder Chris Cagle's piece, which asks what the Golden Chance might have to say about the usual "Griffith narrative" of the origins of classical Hollywood. I can't wait to find out what next month's topic is going to be, but I'll continue looking in at the comments for June in case anyone else wants to join in.

I certainly didn't expect that delving into the Golden Chance would, in this investigation of Utake Abe, connect so neatly to the research and writing I've finally completed on Japanese director Teinosuke Kinugasa and the silent cinema of Japan for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which is showing Kinugasa's Jujiro at the Castro Theatre in less than two weeks. The trend of Japanese film professionals spending time in Hollywood as part of a concerted effort to bring American film practices back to Japan is just one of many fascinating stories I was unable to fit into my contribution to the festival's educational materials. This blog will provide some room for spillover. I plan to put a new factoid or image on this blog every day for the week leading up to the festival. That's very soon; I better start working on the formatting! In the meantime, Dan has a preview of the festival, and more.

As Dan notes, there's a lot of film stuff happening here on Frisco Bay. I haven't mentioned all of it on this blog yet. For example, the Castro begins its annual 70mm series tomorrow with Blue Thunder, and will include the 1986 musical version of Little Shop of Horrors (apparently unavailable in 35mm prints, so this is your chance to see it on film), Sam Peckinpah's director's cut of the Wild Bunch, and three films I've already seen in 70mm, but would gladly see again that way (in fact, I'd be wary of seeing them any other way, so eye-popping they are in that format): Lawrence of Arabia, Tron and Jacques Tati's masterpiece Playtime.

Other upcoming Castro screenings include a July 15-23 tribute to Sydney Pollack and an August 1-7 booking of Kent Mackenzie's the Exiles.

The Roxie, like the Castro, is coming off a week and a half of screenings for Frameline. It's now playing two current films that might not be on your radar screen: Yoji Yamada's samurai film Love and Honor and Ramin Bahrani's Chop Shop, the diretor's follow-up to his closely-observed character study Man Push Cart. The historic Roxie's in trouble once again, so support it while you can!

Across town a the Lumiere Theatre you'll find Werner Herzog's new Antarctica documentary Encounters at the End of the World this week. I attended on Friday, when producer/composer/foraminifera research diver Henry Kaiser was on hand to introduce the film and handle audience questions. It's another piece in the Herzog puzzle, it's subject matter makes it a feel even a bit more apocalyptic than usual for the director of Fata Morgana and La Soufrière.

Another in-person appearance at the Lumiere occurs the evening of July 5th, when animators from the Animation Show's fourth incarnation drop by.

The SFFS Screen at the Sundance Kabuki is currently home to the lovely Romance of Astrea and Celadon by Eric Rohmer. I hope you're not so smarting from kicking yourself for missing Woman on the Beach last week (oh, you saw it? good. did you like it?) to get your sore butt over to Japantown before it's gone. I've remarked on the July bookings here before, but now the first film to play there in August has been announced: Jacques Nolot's Before I Forget opens August 1st. Good thing too, since apparently it only screened digitally at Frameline last week.

Before I forget, may as well mention some blogs I newly noticed in June. You may already know about these, but in case you don't:

Georges Méliès: an in-depth look at the cinema’s first creative genius I covet that new DVD set.

Annie Got Gun Written by a friend, and not strictly a film blog- ok not much film on it, but some great art you won't see elsewhere and more.

Moazzam Sheikh. Another friend, and he's literally just staring out in the blogosphere, but perhaps my enthusiasm for his posts on Boutique, an Iranian film I have not seen, and La Notte, an Italian film I have seen, will help encourage him to continue!

As perfect as it can be... Reviews of two disparate, under-sung masterpieces Quick Billy and Day of the Outlaw make me hope there's more to come.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mysterious Objects, Exquisite Corpses

Last night I got to see my favorite film from last year on 35mm again. For free! The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts screening room, the same venue at which I first saw Syndromes and a Century over a year ago, unspooled this lovely, entrancing film again as a replacement screening for a set of its Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's short video works, which had been delayed in shipping from the prior venue at which they played.

Michael Guillén was first on the blogosphere to report the switch. I was initially disappointed that the shorts would be delayed a week (they now are set to play July 3rd and July 6th; half on one day and half on the other.) But the opportunity to see a bright, beautiful print of Apichatpong's latest feature film again in a screening room free of the distractions of home (or the multiplex; YBCA audiences are very respectful as a rule) is about as perfect a substitution as could be imagined. And the Syndromes and a Century print is still in town, and plays again on Sunday at 2PM, also for free!

I urge you to attend, especially if you have not seen this film before, but are interested in cinema as memory, as mood, as cultural self-examination, and not necessarily as story. It's true that I can trace my deep admiration for Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul's films back past the screenings at YBCA and the Pacific Film Archive and the local film festivals which have shown his work, to the time I once spent living and working in Thailand itself. But as I commented on Barry Jenkins' blog:

I'm not certain this experience has helped me "understand" Syndromes and a Century any more than anyone else does. Yet I do feel I do understand it, not on the level of analysis or even recognition of Joe's motifs from other films, or of bits and pieces of the Thai culture I was exposed to. It feels like a more universal, more cinematic understanding. And it's combined with a perhaps even more overwhelming lack of understanding, that somehow doesn't get in the way of appreciation at all.
Of course, it was hard for me not to view the film with the censorship it has suffered in its home country near the front of my mind. During one of the censored scenes, the print appeared to have weathered some damage (green outlines of what looked like sprocket holes on the side of the frame- any film projectionists reading this know what that means?) and it served as a reminder that when the film was finally screened in Bangkok, that entire scene was replaced by black leader. Apichatpong himself has called this censored version "a corpse, not a film." I cannot avoid noticing the irony that a film that so gently points out the absurdity of blithely waltzing toward modernity (one theme among many in this rich work) has attracted a decidedly un-gentle smackdown from a censorship system seemingly bent on keeping Thai movies as old-fashioned as possible...

More links well worth reading on Syndromes and a Century: Michael Guillén's interview, Daniel Kasman's review, Peter Nellhaus's comments on the DVD release, and Thai cinephile CelineJulie's report from a Bangkok screening.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jewish Film Festival lineup announced

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has announced the full program lineup and schedule for its 28th edition, running July 24th through August 11th at venues around Frisco Bay.

On an initial perusal of the offerings, three films jump out at me: my olympic summer is a terrific short that I saw and wrote about at Sundance earlier this year. Anvil! the Story of Anvil is another film that played Sundance. There was tinnitus-inducing word-of-mouth for this documentary about a persistent Canadian heavy metal band on the wintry streets of Park City. I figured that with that much positive buzz I'd surely have another shot at seeing it in Frisco, and here it is, to my mild surprise, at the SFJFF. None of the "you've gotta see this one" reviews I heard from festival volunteers and filmgoers mentioned that the band members are Jews.

Finally, Chris Marker's 1960 Description of a Struggle is the jumping-off point for Israeli filmmaker Dan Geva's new Description of a Memory. The Marker film won prizes at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961, and though it's little seen today, it still can stir up controversy on the occasions that it is. A program of both works plays one time only at the SFJFF, on the morning of August 9th at Roda in Berkeley.

What am I overlooking here?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Calendar Catch-Up

I just got back from Frisco's most unpretentious repertory venue, the Red Vic Movie House, where I saw Max Ophuls' the Earrings of Madame de... for the first time in several years, and the first time in a cinema. It's fantastic to see the director's long takes unfold on the big screen. The film plays again tonight, June 23rd.

I picked up the latest Red Vic calendar as well, detailing the program selections through early September. Potential highlights include, but are not limited to:

Errol Morris's the Thin Blue Line on July 22, following a two-day run of his latest Standard Operating Procedure July 20-21.

Two of the acknowledged greats of the rock-concert-doc: Stop Making Sense July 29 and Gimme Shelter July 30, for comparison a week after Martin Scorsese's own Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light July 23-24.

Jim Jarmusch's neo-acid-Western masterpiece Dead Man August 19-20, perhaps a tie-in with the two-day stand of Hamony Korine's Mister Lonely August 26-27.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind August 21, presumably selected in connection to the Frisco theatrical premiere of the space-race documentary Sputnik Mania August 14-17, and not so much in connection with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on July 18-19. Though I wouldn't be too sure.

You Are What You Eat, Roger Corman's the Trip, Riot on Sunset Strip and L.A. rock band documentary Love Story take over Labor Day weekend, all hosted by Dominic Priore.

Another big-screen chance to see Killer of Sheep August 24-25.

Jean-Luc Godard's recently-redistributed 1965 Pierrot Le Fou finally plays this side of Frisco Bay on September 1-2. It's played the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley recently, and plays there again August 2nd as part of a widescreen series.

Yep, the PFA has a fresh new calendar out too, and as usual the glimpse of the next couple months on offer has diverted my attention slightly from the programs closing out the current month's offerings; I feel like I need to conserve my anticipatory drool! (though honestly I'm eager to see Mad Detective this Friday and Opening Night next Sunday).

I've long considered the PFA perhaps my favorite local venue to see a vintage widescreen film; the theatre's shape seems particularly ideal for the format and just thinking about getting a chance to see all these CinemaScope, Totalscope, Tohoscope, etc. films is pretty distracting. I can't decide if I'm more excited to see Markéta Lazarová and Bigger Than Life again, to see the Red and the White and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the first time ever, or to see Yojimbo (pictured above) and McCabe and Mrs. Miller for the first time on that particular screen.

Widescreen worship is available for films in a couple other PFA summer series too, namely the set devoted to films based on the writings of noir fiction author David Goodis (widescreen: Shoot the Piano Player / not wide: Nightfall) and a tribute to the United Artists studio (widescreen: West Side Story / not wide: the Shanghai Gesture.) Unlike the Castro Theatre booking of this 90th anniversary traveling series, the PFA will be bringing films going back to the silent era and the studio's very beginnings: Steamboat Bill, Jr. July 6th, Thief of Bagdad July 20th, and Broken Blossoms August 3rd. The latter film by United Artists founder D.W. Griffith celebrates its own 90th anniversary next year, and will also be showing at the Stanford Theatre August 20th.

Another series with some, but not much, venue crossover is the retrospective of films shot by the great Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, who worked with directors like Luis Buñuel, Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, Ferndano de Fuentes, and John Ford. A few of the films in the Figueroa series also play SFMOMA this summer, but only a few, so you'll have to coordinate your calendar to get them all in (and I've never seen a Figueroa-shot film that wasn't worth looking at, especially in a good print, so I'd recommend expending this effort.)

Finally, the PFA is hosting a Manoel de Oliveira series in anticipation of the Portuguese filmmaker's 100th birthday this December. From the PFA program guide: "It’s not often that we can celebrate the centennial of a director who is not only still living, but still working." I've seen shamefully few of Oliveira's films; one, to be exact, his documentary Oporto of my Childhood. It's not playing the PFA, but as I recall it includes a clip of the first film he directed, the silent Douro, Faina Fluvial, which will play in a program of shorts on August 27th. The series runs on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays through August and even September (incidentally, this is the first time in my several years of PFA calendar-watching that they've announced dates for a major program this far in advance.) It closes out with a September 28th screening of Abraham's Valley, which I hear is a tremendous film, and only available on a very inferior DVD copy. Other than that, I have no idea which titles to prioritize in this series, and would love to get suggestions from more experienced Oliveira-watchers. Anyone?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Universal Fire

"Nothing has ever been preserved – at best, it is being preserved."
--Ray Edmundson, UNESCO's Audiovisual Archiving: Philosophy and Principles, 2004.

You probably heard about the fire that broke out at Universal Studios at the end of last month. You may have heard that several firefighters suffered "minor injuries" while extinguishing the blaze, but otherwise no-one was hurt, thankfully. You may also have heard the initial reports that the fire destroyed a video libary. You may have breathed a sigh of relief when learning that it was not an archive containing the only copies of the materials in Universal's film library.

Indeed, it appears that the negatives of Universal's film holdings are safe, stored in a location far from the site of the conflagration. Presumably in a vault better protected from the possibility of fire damage coming from a source outside the building. Unfortunately, a great many archival film prints, including a sizable proportion of those prints sent by the studio to repertory theatres, cinematheques and film festivals all over the world for public exhibition, were consumed in the fire. They may have been "duplicates" of the original negatives, but that doesn't mean they won't be missed.

Film preservation does not begin and end with the safeguarding of original materials. It's part of a cycle that includes the presentation of films to the public, preferably in a manner as close as possible to that which filmmakers intended their work to be seen. At the beginning of this article I quoted a document considered to be something of a mission statement for film archivists. Here's another pertinent quote from that document:

Preservation is necessary to ensure permanent accessibility; yet preservation is not an end in itself. Without the objective of access it has no point.
With that in mind another quote, from Universal President Ron Meyer, that "Nothing is lost forever" may at first glance seem like a minimization of the damage. If a vital link in the preservation chain for undervalued masterpieces like 1937's Make Way For Tomorrow (one rumored destroyed print) and 1971's Taking Off (another rumor) has been severed, can these films truly be considered "preserved"? Since these particular titles have never been commercially available on home video, only those who remember seeing them projected in 35mm in a cinema (or perhaps shown on a stray television broadcast,) will ever really know what has been lost. (Thankfully, another so-called "filthy five" treasure from the studio's early-seventies "Youth Division", the Last Movie, was screened in Frisco in a great print from the Academy Archive on June 4th.)

For the time being, I'm optimistically hoping that Meyer's quote is not a belittling of the damage to the audience's connection to our collective aesthetic and cultural history, but an indication of intention to restore the damage and make the destroyed films available for circulation as soon as possible. It's possible for Universal to strike new 35mm prints of lost titles, at what the New York Times is reporting as approximately $5,000 a pop. The question is, how much effort in this direction will be made in 2008, as the number of 35mm film projectors in commercial operation around the world is starting to decline? As Lincoln Spector has succintly put it, "economic realities control what does and does not get replaced."

I suspect it will take some time for Universal to complete its inventory of what precisely was lost and what survives in a condition to be screened. (Some titles rumored to be damaged or unavailable may simply be lost in the chaos of the rescue- we can hope, at any rate.) In the meantime, at least one Frisco Bay screening has been severely affected: last Thursday's presentation of King Kong Escapes at the monthly Thrillville event at the Cerrito Speakeasy Theatre was facilitated by DVD. On October 23, Thrillville was set to play a double bill of Curse of the Werewolf and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, both titles currently in Universal's holdings. While Curse of the Werewolf has been removed from the program, the exhibition print of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man was thankfully not in the vault during the fire, and will be shown that evening. Another Universal horror classic, Creature From the Black Lagoon, was also spared from the flames and will play the Cerrito (in 3-D) on an unspecified date in late October.

Other Frisco venues are affected as well. Michael Guillén, while reporting the 35mm prints to be shown at the Frameline festival that opens at the Castro this Thursday, noted that the Wachowskis' lesbian thriller Bound, scheduled as part of a tribute to departing programmer Michael Lumpkin, was among the titles affected by the fire, and may indeed be projected digitally at the Castro next Tuesday if a new print is not able to be struck in time.

Luckily, other previously-announced Castro bookings are not affected. The Silent Film Festival presentation of the Man Who Laughs, which in 1928 was Universal's attempt to recreate the gothic horror success of the Phantom of the Opera and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, is safe. As the festival's artistic director Stephen Salmons notes near the beginning of a recent podcast interview, a beautiful print is held by the Library of Congress and is the one that will play July 12th. The print of Jaws set to play the Castro July 19th was not harmed. I'm told that nothing on the current or upcoming Pacific Film Archive calendar was affected by the fire, either.

I'm not sure about the Stanford Theatre, which has many Universal titles programmed on its current summer calendar, particularly its Jimmy Stewart centennial selections. Last week I CalTrained down to Palo Alto to see my two favorites of the Anthony Mann westerns starring Stewart, Bend of the River and the Far Country. I had never seen either on the big screen before, and I found it a magnificent double-bill. The Academy-ratio compositions are ideal for the films' isolating mountain settings, and for Mann's (and screenwriter Borden Chase's) illustrations of the short-sightedness of unfettered capitalism. Seeing the pair one after another helped me better recognize each film's distinctive qualities as well. And they were shown on fine if not perfect 35mm prints. Perhaps these were spared from the fire, or perhaps they were sourced from a private collector, or even quickly restruck in time for the screenings. If anyone has the influence and the deep pockets to make sure the show will go on it's surely David Packard, and I'm reminded again of just how lucky I am to live within a reasonable distance of this one-of-a-kind theatre. However, I've since heard that the weekend's screenings of Universal's Charade at the venue featured a subpar print, and it has me wondering about the Stanford program guide's promise of "an original Technicolor print with original magnetic stereophonic sound" for its June 26-27 screening of another Mann-Stewart collaboration the Glenn Miller Story. Another such collaboration, the Naked Spur, recently was shown on DVD at UCLA, presumably because of the fire. Will a new print be struck, or another print source located in time for its Stanford booking August 7-8?

Striking new 35mm prints can be costly, but so can be screening from non-studio prints. As I understand it, even when a venue is able to locate an alternate source to project from, whether a DVD or a collector's print, it's required to pay the rightsholder for the privilege of showing their intellectual property, on top of whatever fees a collector may charge for the loan of their alternate print. As a result, I have a feeling that many programmers around the country are going to shy away from placing fire-affected Universal titles on upcoming schedules, when possible. Unless, of course, the studio itself agrees to front the cost of replacing their prints. Again, we can hope.

Finally, you may be aware that Universal is the rightsholder to many great Paramount titles, from Hitchcock to Preston Sturges, to the Marx Brothers to Josef Von Sternberg's Marlene Dietrich films. Many of these Paramount holdings are rumored to be among those lost. But, to end this article on an up note, it appears that the great Paramount musical directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Maurice Chevalier, Love Me Tonight was saved. Why? Because it had been shipped to a repertory venue (Chicago's Music Box) eager to present it to a sure-to-be-delighted audience. Just another reason to support your local cinematheque.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Golden Chance and other silents

My first post on Cecil B. DeMille's the Golden Chance is now up at the Film of the Month Club. I say "first" because there is a lot more I'd like to write on this film, and if I can carve the time out of my busy schedule this month, I certainly will. That's a pretty big "if", of course; hopefully there will be plenty of other discussion about the Golden Chance occurring once more Film of the Month Club members have watched the DVD for themselves. If you find yourself interested, I encourage you to sign up, or else participate through leaving comments or writing on your own blog.

Speaking of the DVD, I figure it's worth a few words on why, after writing again and again about how compromised home video viewing is, especially for watching silent films, I have elected to focus so much of my attention on a silent DVD. It's true that I consider theatrical screenings of 35mm prints of silents, backed with live musical accompaniment, the ne plus ultra silent film viewing experience, with 16mm screenings with music coming a close second. And I have a long list of silent films I've never seen before, that I'm holding off on viewing until provided with just such a theatrical opportunity. But from my observation, Cecil B. DeMille is currently one of the most unfashionable famous directors of the silent era, and opportunities to see his films on the big screen are particularly rare, especially in the face of how many of his films survive (as far as I'm aware, he was one of the first directors to take a strong interest in preserving his film legacy, and the result is that only a few of his films are considered "lost".) I'm not harboring illusions that the discussion at the Film of the Month Club is likely to suddenly make his early work fashionable, but I'd rather share a DVD I found fascinating, than wait around for it to be programmed at a repertory theatre before mentioning it.

As rarely-screened as they are, Cecil B. DeMille films are part of the current Stanford Theatre summer schedule. The original 1927 silent version of Chicago, which DeMille produced but was not credited with directing, and that Robert S. Birchard has reason to believe is a DeMille film by any other name, plays with Jim Riggs at the organ on July 23rd, and the 1956 unsilent version of the Ten Commandments closes out the summer program over Labor Day weekend.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival screened DeMille's the Godless Girl last summer, so they're leaving the director alone this time around. But this year's festival schedule is up, tickets are available on-line, and starting tomorrow will be available at the festival box office as well.

The Frisco Bay venue I'd be least surprised to see book the Golden Chance or any other DeMille silent these days, is the Niles Essanay Film Museum, which programs a weekly Saturday silent screening with little apparent care to the whims of cinephile fashion- this weekend they're screening an Edison feature called the Royal Pauper, directed by the obscure Ben Turbett and starring the equally obscure Francine Larrimore. Next Saturday June 21 it's another little-known Edison film, the baseball comedy/drama One Touch of Nature. And the following weekend, June 27-29, is the venue's 11th annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival.

This year the Broncho Billy Festival celebrates the centennial of the Motion Picture Patents Company, and offers a slate of films from each of seven film production companies that banded together in this trust. The opening night Edison program includes the Great Train Robbery in its slate of films, and the Sunday afternoon Biograph program includes some relatively familiar D.W. Griffith one-reelers as well as his first feature-length Biblical epic Judith of Bethulia, filmed three years before Intolerance. But many of the films being shown are completely unknown to all but the most devoted silent film researchers. I've been tipped off that Playing Dead, a little-known 1915 five-reeler playing on the Vitagraph program Saturday night of the festival, may prove to be a highlight of the weekend program.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Third Street Summer Screenings

Two museum screening rooms on opposite sides of Third Street between Mission and Howard have posted more information about their summer film schedules.

On the East side of the street at SFMOMA, on Thursdays and Saturdays:

Throughout June, all fourteen episodes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz play. It may have been "made for television" but this 15-hour magnum opus first revealed itself at the 1980 Venice Film Festival, and played in U.S. movie theatres in 1983. I'm heading off to see the first three episodes as soon as I finish this post. SFMOMA now has a blog, and discussion of the film has begun there in earnest.

In July, Jean Cocteau's Orphic Trilogy. Your opportunity to see Blood of a Poet, which inspired film artists from Jean Genet to David Lynch, on the big screen.

In August, in conjunction with the Frida Kahlo exhibition opening on Saturday and running through September, a series of Mexican film classics. Starting with Luis Buñuel's masterpiece Nazarín on Thursday July 31st, the series also includes great films I've only seen on video like Sergei Eisenstein's ¡Que Viva México!, Emilio Fernández's Enamorada (pictured above) and Paul Leduc's superb biopic (normally a paradoxical pair of words in my book) Frida, naturaleza viva. And of the films I've never seen before, I've heard great things about Alberto Gout's Aventurera, and I'm vastly intrigued by the rare silent film El Puño de hierro (The Iron Fist).

On the West side of Third Street, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, there are the videos by Jia Zhang-Ke, Michael Haneke and Apichatpong Weerasethakul this month. Thursday's screening of Jia's Useless was sans English subtitles, so it might be worth your while to call ahead before tomorrow's screening if such a thing matters to you. On the other hand, Dong (pictured) was subtitled and terrific.

In July, there's the Cinekink festival, the US premiere of Rotterdam Film Festival discovery a Listener's Tale, shot in Sikkim, India, and the Frisco premiere of a film seen nearby only in Berkeley, Bahman Ghobadi's Half Moon on July 31st.

And, as I learned from Michael Guillén's interview with YBCA programmer Joel Shephard, the venue's Bay Area Now triennial celebration of Frisco Bay artists and curators will include films guest-programmed by some of the most creative film and video bookers on the local scene, including Oddball, kino21, the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (whose annual festival runs this June 13-15), Peaches Christ (whose Midnight Mass summer series at the Bridge has been revealed,) and more.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Film of the Month Club

I've been asked to select the June film at the new Film of the Month Club blog, where a different participant picks a DVD for a monthly discussion. I picked Cecil B. DeMille's the Golden Chance, filmed in late 1915 at the same time as DeMille was making the Cheat, the film that would propel him to fame in Europe when it was released after the end of World War I. One of the least-known DeMille films available on DVD (it currently has 28 imdb votes to the Cheat's 554 and the 15,779 for the 1956 the Ten Commandments, as unscientific as that measurement may be), I'm hoping the discussion will shine light on the film, and perhaps open conversation on what it means to be watching DVDs of films more than 90 years old.

I'll be rewatching the DVD this week, and as I mention in my introductory post on the film, I will put up another piece a week from today, June 12th. Hope you can join me, whether by joining the Film of the Month Club, or by commenting on the posts.