Thursday, March 30, 2006

3.30.06 Germany: Linz, Austria

Some people backpack. Some people take big group tours. Some people cycle. But let me tell you, next time you're hitting up Europe, going on an independent film and lecture tour is the way to go. It gives you an automatic ticket to some of the coolest venues and most interesting people in town. Take our show in Linz, for example. After crossing the Germany / Austria border to a breathtaking view of the Alps, we arrived at our destination--the Moviemento.

This place is also part of an arts complex, like the Feierwerk in Munich, but it is a bigger version. The cinema is located underneath Linz's modern art museum and J & I were hosted in the rooms reserved for visiting artists. When I say we stayed in the museum, I mean we stayed IN the museum! Stepping outside the door from our hallway led directly into the museum's amazing exhibit featuring a selection of the most cutting edge works from recent European biennial exhibitions. I was almost afraid that someone would pay us an accidental visit, thinking that we were part of the exhibits!

(One of the museum exhibits or last night's leftovers? You decide.)

So the place is cool, but I haven't even gotten to the people! Anatol and Andy, the guys who promoted the show here, have their fingers in so many interesting pots that I can't even begin here but I'll just mention, for example, that Andy builds interacitve robots and sound/light exhbitis for fun and Anatol founded the band Valina which has done 2 US tours and is on its way to Russia later this month.

The screening was a bit unusual because they sort of had to squeeze it in early before the regular movie schedule began, so J did not get to do his lecture and it also led to another small (shall we say, "intimate"?) crowd, but it was a fine group nonetheless. During the screening, we ate at the delectable cafe in the complex, where J ordered something I think only exists in this part of the world: vegan schnitzel!

A highlight of the evening was that the musem was open late and J and I basically had the entire place to ourselves, so we had lots of time to explore the incredible array of inspiring, interactive multimedia pieces.

This adventure keeps getting better and better.

PS You know how they say that you shouldn't drink tap water when traveling abroad because your system isn't used to their system? Well, uhhhh, I've discoverd that it is not just an old wives' tale...well what can I say? Not everything can be perfect!

3.29.06 Germany: Munich

The 5 1/2 hour drive from Kaiserslautern to Munich flew by due to Johannes's good company (not to mention that we saw three-count em-THREE rainbows!). We are finally getting to know each other in person after many months of planning this tour via email, and thnakfully a warm and easy friendship has already developed.

(Johannes leaving Kaiserslautern!)

Johannes is the tour's lecturer, manager, driver and translator. I discovered upon arrival that I am supposed to be the tour's navigator. Uh-oh. (I can hear you laughing, Joshie!) I can't even find my way out of a parking garage! Fortunately, we are in uber- efficient high tech Deutschland and so our car has a GPS tracking system that speaks directions as we drive. Phew!

Yes, they know how to tour in style over here. Whereas in the US bands will tour in a stinky, beat up van which they often sleep in after eating at Jack in the Box, we are tooling all over Europe in a tricked-out Mercedes Benz (!) and given a hot vegetarian meal and housing at every venue. I could get used to this!!

Anyway, back to my friend Johannes. So a lot of us were wondering if this German guy who went all the way to Israel and wrote this zine about the Israeli scene and invited a Nice Jewish Girl from the US to tour was a Jew himself. Turns out that he is actually the Protestant son of a priest whose family has religious origins way back with the French Hugenots. (I am always envious of my foreign friends who actually have some idea what their family was up to 500 years ago). He ended up in Israel almost by accident, as he was sent there to volunteer by the German government in lieu of military service. After fulfilling this requirement, he went back to Israel to study mathematics for a year and now he speaks better Hebrew than I do and is well-versed in Jewish tradition. Who would have guessed?

So--onto the moment you've all been waiting for--news of the first screening! The venue was a really cool "alternative" complex called Feierwerk consisting of performance spaces, a gallery, a bar, etc. Turns out that Useless ID actually played there when they last toured Europe. We were greeted by the super nice guys who worked there, along with an amazing spread of food, and news that the rooms upstairs were too dirty so they had already booked us a hotel room. I thought, "Wow. This is what they mean when they say the arts are more appreciated in Europe."

We brought our own equipment on tour so Johannes was setting up the projector and DVD player when he realized that he left the remote, which enables the German subtitles, back home in Kaiserslautern. Ha ha. We make a good pair! So after a little adventure in electronics shopping we were ready to go.

There was an art opening with a DJ playing in the bar adjoining our screening room, so the "crowd" for the movie was only about 15 people, and we knew two of them. It was actually great because it gave J a chance to practice his lecture in front of a smaller group and for us to get our whole system together. Plus it was nice that on the very first night we each had a friend in the crowd--Holger, who was also volunteering in Israel with J (although Holger CYCLED to Israel from Germany via Greece and Turkey!) and my friend Taki who hosted me on my first trip to Oktoberfest 5 years ago.

Everyone stayed for the Q & A but they were pretty shy about questions. Fortunately, J & I went up together and we kind of played off each other and managed to be pretty entertaining I hope. I guess it worked out because out of 15 people, I sold 6 DVDs and Johannes sold 30 € worth of zines! I was really curious about what the questions and comment would be like here but it turned out that the highlight of my evening came from an American who happened to be visiting a friend in the area. He was from Fayetetvill, Arkansas--a region of the US where my film would probably not dare to tread, and he was totally blown away. He said that he had really never heard anything like this before and had no idea that there was any kind of youth culture in Israel. Pretty amazing how I had to come all the way to Germany to really reach my intended audience--the average American citizen.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

03.28.06 Germany: Arrival

Arrived in Germany safe and sound. Phew. Johannes and his girlfriend are darling. They have an orange toaster and matching bread slicer. Plus lots of books and shoes. My kind of people. We are resting here in Kaiserslautern tonight before our first tour date in Munich tomorrow night. Im soooooooooo sleepy.
More soon...

(Johannes & Adina's kitchen)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

03.21.06 Germany: Auf Wiedersehen, US of A

Ceeee-le-bration time, Come on!

Why am I celebrating, you ask? Well, it's been a year since our amazing sneak-preview premiere at the Victoria last year, and so many wonderful and fabulous adventures have been had with Jericho's Echo in the ensuing months. (Read this very blog to learn more...)

So how am I celebrating? Naturally, with a big, fat trip to Germany. For those of you who don't know me, that "Naturally" was dripping with irony, as Germany is actually one of the last places on earth that I expected to take my Israeli movie with Jewish content. But off to the land of liederhosen I go, on a two week tour with Johannes Dechant and his fanzine about Israeli punk called Katzilla.

I imagine that this trip will definitely be the biggest adventure yet, and probably the last big adventure I have as far as taking JE on the road, as the DVD will be released to retail this August (Yippee!). Johannes and I are taking our "Film und Fanzine" tour to 14 screenings in 14 cities in 14 days. Oy vey.

I am leaving for the tour on Thursday morning and making a brief stop in Florida on the way there for a family event (congrats, Cory and Kristin!). I am getting super anxious about the trip...excited in a *good* way, of course, but also kind of like, "WTF? Am I really going to GERMANY?!" The first time I heard a cop speaking German, in Austria about 8 years ago, I pretty much freaked out. After all, the only images I had ever seen of men in uniform speaking German were images of Nazis.

Logically, I know this is silly. I know that I am not going to get jumped by any Nazis or forced into a labor camp and that, in fact, modern Germans are enlightened, culturally savvy, fairly liberal folks. I've talked to lots of friends about the upcoming trip and they've all reassured me of these things. My friend Matt even pointed out how beautiful and powerful it is that 60 years ago our grandparents were killing each other, and now I, a Nice Jewish Girl, am being brought over there to exhibit a work that deals with a set of issues close to the hearts of Jews around the world.

But, wonderful and well-meaning as he has been, my host Johannes added to the freakout factor the other day when he sent me some interview questions for a German zine he writes for. One of the questions was, "You once wrote, that a big part of the audience in the US is actually jewish. How did they react to the movie?" Yes, folks, ACTUAL Jews! Step right up and for only a shilling you can see them for yourselves, horns and all! I know, I know. That's not what he meant. But it was just a reminder of what a teeny, tiny minority I will be joining when the plane lands. And why.

So--I am about to leave for this trip and I know it will be an incredible experience. It will be great for the Israeli bands to get some promotion in Europe, and for me, I'm sure it will actually be a hell of a lot of punk rock fun and mayhem. I also know that, as illogical as it might be, I will be overcoming a personal hurdle to make it happen.