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Short Takes 

The Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival. Got a minute?

Wednesday, Aug 15 2001
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Thanks to MTV and 60-second soundbites, we've all got a touch of attention deficit disorder. Fortunately, the ninth annual Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival caters to those who find it painful to sit through a two-hour feature. With 59 entries jampacked into 100 minutes, the festival is proof positive that size doesn't matter -- at least when it comes to cinema.

Established in 1991 by Beth Hall of S.F.'s Artists' Television Access, the homage to bite-size eye candy doesn't give short shrift to narrative; instead it "challeng[es] people to tell their stories in a short space," Hall explains. Because of its edgy feel and low-budget requirement, SAS has grown into a touring venue of international repute, attracting short-shorts from such far-off lands as Japan, Iran, and New Zealand. Thanks to the fest's no-censorship principle, the offerings run the gamut from gorgeous to graphic. Take, for example, Richard Newton's Now Show Yours, a barrage of full-frontal nudity in which a man and a woman shake their private parts during a dance competition set to classical Indian music.

But Hall is quick to point out that while there are plenty of images that may make you cringe, the show's overall feeling is more sophisticated this year, concentrating less on what she calls "14-year-old bathroom humor." Big-name draws such as Michael Moore's Testify, a critique of the 2000 elections created in collaboration with rock band Rage Against the Machine, and Night Shift, a team effort by David Weir and Generation X author Douglas Coupland, should captivate festival first-timers. Bay Area filmmakers make an appearance, too, with pieces by Paul Clipson, Lev and Emre Yilmaz, and Molly Lynch and Eva Sollberger, whose Exotic World offers a sneak peek into the lives of early burlesque dancers. Name your favorite films by filling out a survey after the show -- if you can sit still long enough.

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Lisa Hom

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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