Thursday, November 30, 2006

11.30.06 Happy Birthday, Film Arts!

I promised I'd write about the Film Arts 30th Anniversary bash from the last post, but next thing you know, I was too full of turkey and stuffing to get anything down on virtual paper...

The gist of it is that the event was a smashing success...and made me feel quite proud to be part of such a venerable institution that has aided so many truly independent filmmakers, in a city where Hollywood renegades come to forge their own paths. (Sorry for the melodrama--just watched Lord of the Rings.)

The theme of the evening was Past, Present, Future and the programming reflected this. Past was represented by OffOn, an experimental short from 1972 by one of the Film Arts founding members. Present gave us the "Best of Film Arts Members One-Minute Films" that I mentioned, of which my little movie "ericka" was one. The one-minute films were fantastic, and spanned genres from comedy to animation to doc to experimental. I had an ongoing battle with my friend Shane King (from the Girls Rock! movie) about whose one-minute film was going to mop the floor with whose...and I have to admit his was pretty awesome, but neither of us won the audience choice award, which was clearly fixed ;)

The Future section presented two works-in-progress. The first was clips from an upcoming documentary--Strange Culture--about the messy world of art and politics and a bizarre government conspiracy to squash artists' rights. One of the producers is the dynamic Lise Swenson, who founded TILT, the organization I am now running. The film just got into Sundance--congratulations!!!

The main feature of the evening was a rough cut screening of a new doc about the bustling Nigerian film scene (Who knew?). This isn't Hollywood, or even Bollywood...This is Nollywood, baby, and it is pure inspiration. For someone who considers herself a guerrilla filmmaker, this really put me in my place. These West Africans churn out hundreds of movies with extremely limited resources and have made themselves a massive homegrown entertainment industry. I think everyone in the audience was impressed and energized by the film. I can't wait to see the final cut!

So I didn't even *get* to the who's who of the guest list, which included such local luminaries as former Film Arts diva Gail Silva, Oscar-nominated doc director Sam Green, film publicist extraordinnaire Karen Larsen and about 800 others, but now that my Thanksgiving has digested, it's already time to grate my latke potatoes. See you on Chanukah!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

11.3.06 Sacto, Film Arts and other updates

Hello, my long lost friends!
My, it *has* been a while. And Lizzie has been busy!

The foremost occupier of my time has been a fabulous new job as the Youth Coordinator at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center, home of Frameline (SF LGBT Film Festival), SF Jewish Film Festival, Center for Asian American Media (Asian American Film Festival) and the venerable Film Arts Foundation. It is at this nexus of the local independent film community that I am running a program called TILT (Teaching Intermedia Literacy Tools), which teaches media literacy through hands-on production. In other words, we do awesome, soup-to-nuts filmmaking workshops with underserved youth all over the Bay Area. Woo-hoo! Youth voice represent!

On that note, A one-minute film that I made about one of TILT's youth filmmakers is screening at the not-to-be-missed film event of the season, the FILM ARTS FOUNDATION 30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, next Wednesday at the incredible Castro Theatre. The evening features an eclectic mix of films for film-lovers, and the one-minute films section is an audience choice awards, so if you're in town please come and vote for my lil' movie, "ericka"! It is going to be an outstanding night, and I'll be sure to write about it here. if you can make it, tix are available at

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the Sacramento screening. This blog is supposed to be chronicling Jericho's Echo adventures, after all. So there have been some incredible screenings recently, in places as varied as Prague, Mexico City and the Turks & Caicos islands. Due to the aforementioned new job, however, I have slowed down on the galavanting around the world a bit. That's one reason it was so nice to have a local-ish screening in California's capitol, Sacramento, last night. The other reason it was so nice is that it was hosted in a new Microcinema that is starting up thanks to the fine folks at Shiny Object Digital Media, who also happen to be the Video-on-Demand (VOD) distributors for Jericho's Echo.

The crowd was funny and a bit surly, but mostly appreciative. The first question was a drunkenly blurted, "Are you single?!", which I ignored, and later I got a brand new one:

Audience member: "I am pen pals with someone in the movie."
Me: "Oh, really? Who?"
Audience member: "His name is Barak."
Me: "Hmmm. I'm not sure there *is* someone named Barak in the movie."
Audience member: "Oh yeah. He's at one of the shows. He hates you."
Me: "Uhhhhhhh, ok?"

I later remembered that the person he was referring to is a disgruntled member of one of the bands who was pissed about not being interviewed (even though I never met him when I was there shooting). He approached me at the Tel Aviv screening, screaming until he was red in the face and demanding a free DVD. I even gave him one! But apparently he's still holding a grudge. Wow.

In other news, I have been writing some more film articles (Look out for my year-end music doc roundup in the winter Death + Taxes and my coverage of Good Vibrations Erotic Films Compeition in the next Release Print!) and teaching a class at FAF for filmmakers called "Building Buzz Around Your Film."

Like I said, Busy Lizzie! I promise not to wait so long til the next entry, and in the meantime, I hope to see you next Wednesday, November 8 at the Castro!!

PS The Henry Rollins article mentioned in my last post is out on the shelves in the current Oct/Nov ish of Death + Taxes!