Reel World

Octopussy
Stanford Ph.D. candidate Celine Salazar Parrenas is one academic who's not afraid to use the word "fucking" in a sentence. She loves posing questions like, "Why is explicit sex necessary to talk about social freedom?" You got it: There's a new generation of post-feminist filmmakers and writers on the move, unencumbered by outrage and self-righteousness, but hardly apolitical.

Parrenas has curated "The Sex of Bodies in Color: Experimental Narratives by First World Women of Color," a San Francisco Cinematheque program of unsettling shorts that screens Saturday, May 22, at the Art Institute. Each film examines "the sex act as the place where identities rupture" -- from an encounter between sailors and Aboriginal sex workers in Tracey Moffat's Nice Colored Girls, to the black man who undresses for Cauleen Smith's camera in The Message. Parrenas designed the program in part as a refutation of the stereotypes of Asian women etched by The World of Suzie Wong and early Bond movies, and also as a way "not only to talk about sex as pain or trauma but as a way of reclaiming pleasure and redressing history."

To that end, Parrenas has included a few lighter pieces. "How do we cope with the problem of sexualizing women?" she wonders aloud. "Flee, or make films about 'the positive cult of womanhood'? Those solutions don't allow us to laugh at the inherent contradictions in women of color having been defined through their sexuality." The program, which is co-presented by Stanford's Race & Sex Workshop, will be followed by a discussion that promises to be lively but not necessarily heavy. "Sex is all around us, and it's in us -- outside of the bedroom and outside of the sex act," Parrenas asserts. "It's a source of what gives us joy, and what makes us want to stay alive."

Hideous Kinky
Tori Spelling, that emblem of gutsy, tenacious, no-budget guerrilla moviemaking, is the "National Spokesperson for the West Coast legs" (L.A. and S.F.) of the Dockers Khakis Classically Independent Film Festival. Seen those Dockers lamppost pennants? Hope the Marina boys don't steal 'em all before the fest begins June 4 at the Castro. ... In other pants/film news, the Levi's outpost opening this summer "will feature emerging artists' work as part of its ongoing exhibitions in a rather elaborate multi-media installation." Mail a tape of your work to David Bobrow, Media Manager, Levi's Flagship Store, 1155 Battery St., S.F., CA 94111. ... The Dockers tour coincides with "Script Sessions," CineStory's annual traveling feeding frenzy for screenwriters which this year is co-sponsored by S.F. State's cinema department and the Film Arts Foundation. The good news is the format favors small group discussions and one-on-ones instead of panel discussions. (More info at www.cinestory.com.) But a definite lowlight is a "big screen cyber visit" with Francis Ford Coppola -- insulting to attendees but highly appropriate given that these days Coppola is a virtual filmmaker. Meanwhile, "the definitive collection of original sound effects" from Apocalypse Now just came out on five CDs for a mere $395. ... If you can't make it to the 39th annual Film Finals on the S.F. State campus May 21, the Red Vic reprises the show on May 25. By the way, the Haight Street institution just bumped its adult prices four bits "to keep pace with rising operating costs," although it held the line on children, seniors, and matinees. Alan Greenspan, take note.

By Michael Fox
foxonfilm@aol.com

 
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