Discontent and Its Document As the country careens violently toward the year 2000, radical political actions have assumed Frankensteinian forms, and documentary films are frequently used -- overtly and insidiously -- as tools of conversion. In Discontent and Its Document, Center for the Arts provides a series of documentaries examining the roots of radicalism -- both left and right -- in the 1990s. "Revisions From the Front: Activist Cinema at the Turn of the Century," the fourth set of films in the eight-week Wednesday-night series, highlights the formal and theoretical aspects of American media activism with films from ACT UP, Testing the Limits, Women's Action Coalition, the sex worker's union COYOTE, the AFDC Family Rights and Dignity Fund and fundamentalist organizations like Pat Robertson's Traditional Values Coalition. Project Tocksn chronicles Contract With America right-wing media activities; Gay Rights, Special Rights, a Traditional Values Coalition film used to promote anti-gay legislation in Colorado and Oregon, plays minorities against one another by claiming the gay rights agenda is clinging to the apron strings of the civil rights movement; Stop the Church gives a step-by-step account of ACT UP's notorious demonstration at St. Patrick's Cathedral, protesting New York Cardinal John O'Connor's rebuke of condom distribution; and Marta: Portrait of a Teen Activist is a mockumentary about an overzealous ACT UP organizer. Screenings start at 7:30 pm, Mission & Third St, S.F. Admission is $5; call 978-2787.
A Bike a Day Too tired to join in Critical Mass' kamikaze Friday-night bike rides? California Bike Commute, sponsors of California's official Bike to Work Day, lets you demonstrate solidarity with the clean-air movement by the light of day. To encourage the state's hundreds of thousands of cyclists to participate, organizers are sweetening the incentive with prizes including weekend getaways, bicycles and cycling gear. Other perks include valet parking for bikes from 7 am to 7 pm at Civic Center Plaza and Justin Herman Plaza (Embarcadero & Clay). Odwalla juice and Peet's coffee, along with bike mechanics offering safety checks, will be available at five local bike shops, including American Cyclery (Stanyan & Frederick), Pacific Bicycles (Geary & Seventh Ave), Pedal Revolution (21st St & South Van Ness), City Cycle (Steiner & Union) and Bike Traffic (Turk & Fillmore). For Bike to Work Day only, all helmeted riders who darken the thresholds of Bay Area Noah's Bagels stores get free bagels to speed them along. Wind up the day by gathering at Justin Herman Plaza for the ride home with your neighbors. Register for prizes by calling (800) 755-7665.
Positive Acts Inundated by images of people struggling with AIDS, it's easy to forget that in between the time HIV-positive status is diagnosed and full-blown AIDS strikes, many people live full lives for a decade or more. In Positive Acts, a series of perform-ances presented by the Drama Therapy Program at the California Institute for Integral Studies, HIV-positive performers offer their own stories of what it's like to live with the disease. Fastforward, directed by Margery Kreitman, explores the often heightened experiences and awareness of HIV-positive twentysomethings. In H.I. Vato, actor Alberto Antonio Araiza (aka Beto) offers a window into the defiant survivalism of an L.A. homeboy who has lived with HIV for almost 10 years. Performance artist Jamie McHugh presents Alive at the Edge: Field Notes From an Endangered Species, a performance incorporating audience participation, as the final event in the series. All shows take place at the California Institute of Integral Studies, 765 Ashbury, S.F. Fastforward plays Thurs, May 4, 12:30 pm (admission is free); H.I. Vato plays Tues, May 9, 6:45 pm (tickets $5-9); Alive at the Edge plays Tues, May 16, 6:45 pm (tickets $5-12). Call 861-5345.
Women With Balls They're tough. They're funny. They've been around for a year. Celebrate the first anniversary of the only female-dominated comedy night in San Francisco. The show starts at 8 pm at the Cat's Grill and Alley Club, 1190 Folsom, S.F. Admission is $5; call 431-3332.
The Hunger What are the costs of chasing the ephemeral lure of fame? How do the glamour and glitter of stardom blind aspirants to the cost wrought on their lives? Joe Besecker's black comedy, Sandy Dennis at the Maisonettes, examines the nightmarish results of the raw predatory instinct shared by four actors chasing after success. The play begins with the premise that a famous unnamed playwright has died and bequeathed money for two simultaneous productions of his final play (the titular Sandy Dennis at the Maisonettes) -- a $3 million New York extravaganza starring Mia Farrow and a low-budget S.F. production. Besecker's script pushes the play-within-a-play concept to its limits, tunneling inward through the S.F. actors' performance to yet another play by Tennessee Williams. Sandy Dennis opens at 8 pm at the SOMAR Theatre, 934 Brannan, S.F., and continues through June 11. Tickets are $10-12; call 626-6715.
Bagong Dance Theatre In 1957, Indonesia's Bagong Kussudiarja received a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study modern and classical dance in America. After studying and touring with Martha Graham, he returned to Indonesia to revolutionize traditional Javanese dance. Now, after 25 years of performances throughout Asia and Europe, the 29-member Bagong Dance Theatre makes its American debut, accompanied by the Bagong Gamelon Orchestra. Performances are Fri-Sat, May 5-6, 8 pm, at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Dana, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $15-32; call (510) 642-9988 or (510) 762-2277.
Industrial Mosh German band KMFDM has been marching through the marsh of industrial rock for some 11 years, wielding their uncompromisingly hard-to-categorize music like a weapon. Led by Sascha Konietzko, the band remains dismissive of pedestrian concepts like commercial accessibility and monetary success. The result? Even with the outing of the alternative rock scene, KMFDM has remained underground, maintaining the respect of its hardcore fans. Supporting their new album, Nihil, the Wax Trax recording artists -- including Konietzko, vocalist En Esch, guitarists Mark Durantula and Gunter Schulz, and new drummer Raymond Watts -- bring their blend of thunderous guitar backed by sinuous electronic rhythms to the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St, S.F. Dink opens at 8 pm. Tickets are $12.50; call 995-4600.
Pandora's Box Starring Louise Brooks in an unforgettable portrayal of Lulu, a showgirl and prostitute caught up with a troupe of circus people, petty criminals and aristocrats, Pandora's Box opened to scandalized Berlin audiences in 1929. With excruciating clarity, G.W. Pabst's film follows Lulu through a labyrinth of deterioration and demise, as she drags a wealthy newspaper editor (played by Fritz Kortner) and his son in her wake. As part of the S.F. International Film Festival, Club Foot Orchestra breathes new life into Brooks' devastating portrait in the premiere of an original soundtrack for Pabst's classic. Catch the Saturday 2 pm matinee, when Club Foot Orchestra plays at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, S.F. Other performances run Fri-Mon, May 5-8, 8 pm, plus Sun, May 7, 2 pm. Admission is $10; call 931-3456 or BASS.
Virtual Neighborhoods/Neighborhood Virtues As Cyberspace expands the frontiers of shared public space, overpopulation puts ever-increasing demands on physical space. New debates about access, privacy and control have arisen. To explore the issues involved, Headlands Center for the Arts brings online administrator and writer Karen Coyle, author and urban designer Steven Flusty and artists Margaret Crane and Jon Winet together to discuss contemporary and future public spaces. The discussion takes place at 4 pm at Headlands Center for the Arts, Bldg 944, Fort Barry, Sausalito. Tickets are $5, postdiscussion dinner is $15; call 331-2787.
A Song of One's Own Prepare for Mother's Day in advance by attending Sacred and Profane's presentation of songs by female composers through the ages. Works range from medieval chants by Hildegard von Bingen to a 20th-century piece by Libby Larsen. The chamber chorus performs at 4 pm at the Calvary Presbyterian Church, 1940 Virginia, Berkeley; also Fri 5/12 8 pm at St. John's Presbyterian Church, 2727 College, Berkeley, and Sun 5/14 3 pm at Grace Presbyterian Church, 2100 Tice Valley, Walnut Creek. Tickets are $9-14; call (510) 524-3611.
Norman Mailer Admirer of Madonna, author of Armies of the Night, The Executioner's Song, The Naked and the Dead and other classics, Norman Mailer is unquestionably one of America's longest surviving, loudest roaring literary lions. The two-time Pulitzer winner and National Book Award recipient appears in the flesh in an interview with Wendy Lesser, editor of The Threepenny Review, as part of the City Arts & Lectures series at Herbst Theatre, Van Ness & McAllister, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 392-4400.
Young at Hearts A clairvoyant diva, a car-buying hypochondriac, a gong-show awardee: These are but a few of the septuagenarians depicted in Don Campbell's directorial debut, Young at Hearts. A nonfiction feature, Young won acclaim as the best of its genre at both the Chicago and Palm Springs film fests. Now 80, star Gert Shapiro -- "a down-to-earth pants chaser," according to Variety -- will grace the film's opening at 8 pm. The screening, a benefit for the Jewish Film Festival, takes place at the Castro, 429 Castro, S.F. Tickets are $5-10; call 863-0611.