Thursday, November 4, 2010

!2 Cutting Edge Cinema Premieres! 2!

"Cinema is a strangely autistic medium, often offering aid and encouragement to obviously pathological misanthropes, which isn't really a problem when that translates primarily into the form and content of their work — look at Stan Brakhage. Unfortunately, what you get when it translates further — into the very socioeconomic infrastructure for the creation of filmic artworks itself — is that poisonously hierarchical, anticreative cesspool known as Hollywood. And I've never even written a screenplay!

There are exceptions, of course: Robert Altman and John Cassavetes were both legendary for their willingness to destabilize the pyramidal protocols of the Tinseltown factory and locate the creative heart of their cinematic art in the resultant chaos. But as often as not, their work wound up as meditations on the desperate impossibility of bridging the communication gap between humans; even the most egalitarian of team players ultimately are defeated by the inherent hermeticism of the medium.

Whether through avant-garde eliminations of plot, character, the camera, authorial decision-making or intelligible pictorial content; or conversely through Imax, 3-D, Scratch 'n' Sniff and similar William Castle-type attempts at virtuality, the filmmaker's efforts to reach out and establish contact with an audience comes up against a raised drawbridge that is as narrow as the 1/48-second gap between projected frames and as vast as the gulf between you and your ex.

An awareness of this structural and philosophical disconnect permeates LiTTLEROCK, a bittersweet, low-key but mesmerizing indie feature that's been picking up steam on the festival circuit over the last few months, and will have its L.A. premiere Nov. 8 as part of the "Young Americans" section of AFI Fest 2010.

The Young Americans category is devoted to contemporary regionalism — a good fit for LiTTLEROCK, which is set in the titular Palmdale-adjacent small town ("The Fruit Basket of the Antelope Valley"). Directed by newcomer Mike Ott, who grew up in Newhall, the film features a star-making, semi-autobiographical performance by locally grown (and current Palmdale resident) Cory Zacharia, and was realized by Small Form Films, a tight-knit gaggle of cinephiles who coalesced around Thom "Los Angeles Plays Itself" Andersen's classes at CalArts...

Curiously enough, Misters , Zacharia, Ott, Lynch (Lee, see below) and Thornton (Frederick Fulton Henry Thornton, fourth official member and only non-auteur in the S.F. company) appear in the credits of The Eternal Heart alongside LA visual artist/filmmaker Marnie Weber's usual company of collaborators — a result of her artist-in-residency gig at this year's California State Summer School for the Arts filmmaking program for high school students, where Small Form folk make up most of the faculty.

Weber's anarchist-tinged production strategies have much in common with the multiple auteurs of Small Form. "Meeting Marnie this summer was really inspiring for me," says Ott, "and I'm taking her advice and approach for my next project: If you have an idea, start on it, don't wait, start and see where it goes. If you want to be in a band, just pick up an instrument and play, teach yourself. ... If you want to show your film and no one will screen it, have a screening yourself in a backyard, or on the side of a building."

The debut of The Eternal Heart takes this philosophy to the next level: With the help of Emi Fontana's West of Rome Public Art, Weber will premiere the half-hour gothic melodrama as part of Eternity Forever, a multimedia extravaganza at one of the film's locations, Altadena's historic Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum. There will be interactive cemetery tours led by monsters from the film, the Spirit Girls will perform a live score as what is billed as the band's final performance, and the mausoleum's gallery will host a vernissage for Weber's latest collages."

Read the rest of Across the Great Divide here.

Purchase $12 tickets to Marnie Weber's Eternity Forever here.

Click here to try and get free tickets for the Los Angeles AFI premiere screening of LiTTLEROCK Monday, Nov 8th.

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