It's not quite as mammoth a job as hoisting the big top when the clowns and carnies and elephants come to town, but the Castro is upgrading for the upcoming 3-D revival of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder. For starters, a new silver screen will be installed for the Nov. 19 opening, since silver reflects light in the specific way necessary for 3-D. The theater has also bought a motor to interlock (and synchronize) the projectors, because the newly struck Warner Bros. print will be shown in dual strip -- that is, two films running simultaneously on two projectors.
"Spending a lot of money to show an old film is highly unusual," says veteran Castro programmer Anita Monga. "And it's such a pain in the ass, no one wants to show the dual-strip version. Your standard movie theater can make tons of money without throwing its back out of joint" installing new gear. Is the extra expense and labor worth it? Well, do you think that a brighter image and lots more information on the screen are kinda important elements of the movie experience?
Incidentally, the Castro isn't planning to return its new acquisitions to Screens 'n' Motors 'r' Us after the Murderous two-week engagement ends Dec. 2. "I intend to do more 3-D," Monga says, "because that would be cool." I joke that it is only a matter of time before George Lucas starts creating content for the new medium, but Monga ambushes me with reality: Universal is talking about making a 3-D movie. Better hang on to those polarized glasses.
No special equipment -- other than Cosmopolitans -- was necessary to ignite the rowdy Castro crowd for opening night of the Film Arts Festival last Wednesday. Indefatigable Film Arts Foundation honcho Gail Silva, introduced as the "queen bee and mother hen" of Bay Area filmmakers, challenged local artists to de-mand more media attention. Donning a stylish propeller beanie (à la the fest's inspired trailer, a parody of Hitch's The Birds), Silva declared, "We need to be a little noisier and a little more obstreperous to get noticed." She went on to pay tribute to the film and video artists who eschew N.Y. and L.A. to work in the Bay Area: "If people are going to stay here, they have to make sacrifices."
Local legend Rock Ross took a snapshot of the crowd from the stage, and the other opening night filmmaker, Craig Baldwin (Spectres of the Spectrum), took the mike. "This film is all about hands-on," he said, while fans roared and hooted. "It's certainly about splices, splicing marks, scratches, and grain." It's a lo-fi world.
Congrats to Lisset Barcellos for nabbing the Directors Guild of America Latino student award for her short narrative, A la Medida (Custom Made), which screened last weekend in the Film Arts Festival. ... Although it's not finished, Debbie Hoffmann and Frances Reid's film about South Africa's trials under the Truth and Reconciliation Act was acquired by HBO for a fall 2000 broadcast and booked for an April run at NYC's Film Forum. A berth in the documentary competition at Sundance seems a foregone conclusion. ... Ghost World, the delayed feature debut of resident curmudgeon Terry Zwigoff (Crumb), is on the fast track -- two hot actresses are on the verge of being cast. Details to follow.
Michael Fox is co-host of Independent View, which airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.