Thursday, June 6, 2013

Burn On (1973)

WHO: Shirley Muldowney is one of the drag racers briefly interviewed in this documentary.

WHAT: I've already mentioned "interviewed" and "documentary" in the same sentence (twice now!) and it may have made your eyes roll. But this film is a flurry of images and sounds from the Epping, New Hampshire drag racing track where it was filmed, and the interviews comprise a very small component of its sixteen-minute running time. I've found very little reference to it outside of racing enthusiast circles, but it ought to be known by cinema enthusiasts as well. It hearkens back to an era when formal experimentation and non-fiction storytelling were less mutually-exclusive categories.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at the Castro Theatre at 9:05 PM

WHY: When I found out Burn On was screening tonight, I just had to feature it today.

Last night I got back from a week-long trip to New Hampshire, the state where it was filmed. I steered clear of racetracks and high speeds but ticked off quite a few rental car miles while driving around the state with my wonderful girlfriend, award-winning filmmaker Kerry Laitala, who is spending part of the summer there thanks the generosity of the MacDowell Artist Colony. I helped her gather footage, photographs, materials, and even a few interviews that she'll be using as raw material in her next film project about the New Hampshire icon the Old Man of the Mountain (which you may or may not be aware was the indirect origin of Buster Keaton's nickname "The Great Stone Face".)

While her residency at the MacDowell Colony is a boon, her film requires additional expenses that she's hoping will be able to be funded by a Kickstarter project currently in-progress. I'm obviously close to the project, but I think it's going to ultimately produce a fascinating and beautiful investigation of the human relationship to landscape, the nature of impermanence, and the relevance of the past to our own faced-paced age.

This all may seem like a huge digression from Burn On, but I feel the New Hampshire connection and the fact that the racing documentary exhibits certain experimental film techniques in a lineage of visual vocabulary that Laitala's work is not so far from, gives me an excuse to pitch this project to my blog readers. I don't often use this blog to promote my friends' crowd-funding projects, but this one is particularly close to my heart. I've never placed ads on my site or asked for donations before either, so if you appreciate my efforts in covering the Frisco Bay film scene, please click the link to her project, and consider pledging to her project or (just importantly) sharing it with people you think might also be interested in supporting her, or receiving some of her unique art object rewards. And do it soon, as there's only a week left to go in her campaign!

HOW: Burn On plays prior to a screening of Monte Hellman's great road movie Two-Lane Blacktop, and after a 7:00 showing of Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. All three in 35mm prints.

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