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August 3, 2000

Media contact : Kathy Skillicorn (publicity@sfindie.com)


The San Francisco Independent Film Festival (AKA SF IndieFest) announces the debut of a new three day program focusing on video produced features, shorts and documentaries. All work will be presented on digital projectors, courtesy of local audio/visual rental house AVTS, with many of the filmmakers in attendance. Screenings will take place at the CellSpace Theater, 2050 Bryant at 18th and at ATA, 992 Valencia at 21st. The program is a collaborative effort of the SF IndieFest, Artist's Television Access and Cell.

According to Jeff Ross, Director of the SF IndieFest, The accessibilty of digital video, and the new means to present and distribute it—namely the film festival circuit and an internet hungry for “content”—promises to allow video to finally achieve what it has hoped to do all along: bring movie making to the people.” The Digital Underground aims to present new work from movie makers who operate beneath the radar of the movie industry and have at their disposal new digital and analog video tools. Instead of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to shoot on film, video makers can now produce high quality work for much less. Young artists with interesting, non-commercial stories to tell now have a medium and a way to reach an audience that they never had before. “Digital video is taking the independent filmmaking community by storm, with some of the most daring, risky and unorthodox work being produced with the new format,” says Ross.

Digital Features

The festival opens Friday, August 25 at 8pm with the West Coast Premiere of Patrick Hasson’s award winning feature WAITING, a comedy about the seamy underbelly of Philadelphia’s restaurant industry as told through the eyes of a waiter trying to muster the ambition to move on with his life. WAITING director Patrick Hasson will be in attendance. Opening night will also feature a shorts program which will include works by local video makers Brett Simon, Leslie Satterfield and Bryan Boyce among others. Following the two programs will be an Opening Night party with DJs, live video mixing and Philip Virus’ visually intense Digital Hardcore videos playing on a loop in the CellSpace loft.

Other features playing in the Digital Underground program include the newest work by veteran videomaker Todd Verow (A SUDDEN LOSS OF GRAVITY, Sunday, August 27, 9:30pm). In this, his best work yet, Verow recreates a series of events that occurred in his Bangor, Maine hometown to present a true and bizarre picture of life in small town USA in the mid ’80s. Verow protégé Shawn Dunn’s debut feature is an in-your-face cinematic melding of gay serial killer slasher flicks set in Chicago (FUCKED IN THE FACE, Saturday, August 26, 5:30pm, West Coast Premiere). Also playing Saturday is Esther Bell’s punk-rock-coming-of-age-and-fleeing-South-Carolina-for-New York-and-meeting-your-gay-dad-for-the-first-time debut feature (GODASS, Saturday, August 26, 9:30pm). Clifton Holmes’ creepy and mesmerizing debut feature is about a bored librarian slowly drawn into a lucrative and dangerous game run by an unseen puppetmaster (IN THE DARK, Saturday, August 26, 9:30pm, West Coast Premiere).

Digital Docs

One of the most popular uses for the new digital technology is for producing documentaries. Video has always been an inexpensive means to capture a large amount of footage and hence remains popular with low budget documentarians. A strong example of do-it-yourself documentary video making is BIG RATTLE IN SEATTLE (directed by Flaco Blag, screens Sunday, August 27, 7:30pm, North American Premiere). Made with no money and a borrowed camera, this piece presents a protesters eye-view of last November's protest actions at the WTO convention in Seattle. BIG RATTLE IN SEATTLE plays with Brian Standing’s PEDALPHILES (West Coast Premiere, director in attendance) the story of a roving gang of bicyclist-artist-philosophers hell bent on ridding the world of automobiles. Starting off this program of activist-focused work will be Shelly Silver’s SMALL LIES, BIG TRUTH, a provocative reading of fragments from the Starr Report by various combinations of couples: an older man and a younger woman, an older woman and a younger man, an older man and a younger man, and a younger woman and an older woman.

Of local interest are three new documentaries by local filmmakers. Dean Mermell’s feature length doc THE EYE OF RUDRA (Saturday, August 26, 7:30pm, Premiere) delves into “chaos culture” as personified by a group of artists preparing to present an opera at the annual Burning Man event in the Nevada desert. THE EYE OF RUDRA examines the artistic process from conception to completion as well as the rituals and meaning sought after by Burning Man’s participants.

In POETIC LICENSE (Saturday, August 26, 7:30pm, Premiere, director in attendance) local documentarian David Yanofsky looks at the emergence of spoken word and performance poetry as a captivating and powerful form of expression for American teen-age youth. The film offers a glimpse into the bright young minds and voices of a burgeoning youth cultural movement as it unfolds. POETIC LICENSE plays with THE MAGNIFICENT ANDERSONS (West Coast Premiere, director in attendance) the work of another local filmmaker, Julie Morrison. This new documentary takes a look at the extended Anderson family, living in the shadow of Area 51 in Nevada, and their perception on family, world domination and the ever-existent presence of aliens that live among us.

Four music related docs will also be presented during The Digital Underground. Chris Wilcha took a video camera to work with him every day while employed by Columbia House Records in the early to mid ’90s. His new film THE TARGET SHOOTS FIRST (Sunday, August, 27, 7:30pm) presents a first person account of how one arm of the music industry figured out how to make a buck off the hipness of grunge, punk-lite and the death of Kurt Cobain. Heather Rose Dominic’s feature length doc, THE SHIELD AROUND THE K (Sunday, August, 27, 9:30pm) profiles the birth and growth of influential Olympia-based punk rock DIY record label K Records. Over the years, the scrappy label has launched key indie artists like Beat Happening, Love as Laughter, Dub Narcotic Sound System, the Make Up, Lois, Microphones and Cadallaca, as well as releasing material from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Beck and many others.

The final documentary program presents two worlds rarely, if ever, preserved on celluloid. Martin Sorrondeguy traces the historical trajectory of the Chicano/Latino punk rock and hardcore music scenes and its always-emergent body politic in BEYOND THE SCREAMS (Sunday, August 27, 8pm). Latin American dictatorships, NAFTA, and a slew of anti-immigrant measures fuel the gut-level rage that informs this unabashedly leftist analysis of punk as passionate politics. BEYOND THE SCREAMS plays with the Premiere screening of Bob Bryan’s GV3: The Final Episode (Graffiti Verite' 3). GV3 is the latest installment of Bryan’s three part documentary series exploring the controversial underground Graffiti Art Movement. In GV3, Bryan steps away from the traditional storytelling format and reinvents the concept of documentary by using contemporary musical idioms from different countries to proclaim the narrative. Ethnic, World, Hip Hop, Techno, Metal, Fusion, Ballads and House music all conspire to disorient our sensibilities and preconceptions about this underground art form.

Digital Shorts

Additionally, two free programs will take place at Cell on Saturday, August 26. From 3pm-5pm, ATA will present the No to Low Budget Digital Film Panel, an opportunity for anyone to sit down with a panel of local and visiting digital filmmakers to find out more about digital movie making. Learn about finding money and resources, surviving grueling production schedules, overcoming the technical challenges of production, enduring the seemingly never-ending quest to finish the project, and finally getting your film screened. Panelists will show their work and discuss their approach to digital filmmaking. Following the panel, the festival will present a free program of locally produced Youth Works with many of the young filmmakers in attendance. The Youth Works program screens 5pm Saturday, August 26.

Rounding out the weekend of new, adventurous and entertaining video work will be two more programs of shorts including work by acclaimed filmmakers such as Sadie Benning, Mark Hejnar and Jem Cohen, as well as locally renowned video makers Sarah Lockhart, Benton Jew, Jon Tojek, Peter Juneau and Susanna Donovan.

The full Digital Underground program will be available on the IndieFest web site August 7: www.sfindie.com.

Screeners and stills are available. All filmmakers are available for phone interviews. Press only: call 415.552.5034 for more information.

The Digital Underground screens at the CellSpace Theater, 2050 Bryant Street, and at ATA, 992 Valencia Street. Tickets for all programs are $7, an all-event pass is available for $20. The 3pm and 5pm Saturday afternoon CellSpace programs are free. Advance tickets and program guides are available at Lost Weekend Video, 1034 Valencia Street and on the IndieFest website: www.sfindie.com.

For more information contact info@sfindie.com or 415.820.1561.