The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Kids put the finishing touches on the first offering of the New Jewish Filmmaker Project

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz"The history of film collectives is full of people at each other's throats by the end of it," filmmaker and project director Sam Ball reminds the 11 teenagers gathered recently at the Bay Area Video Coalition. This is the kids' last weekly meeting of the first-ever New Jewish Filmmaker Project before they finish editing their collaborative short film, and the discussion is spirited. "That's not a very flattering shot," declares one guy, imagining the effect when the film is projected at the Castro this summer during the Jewish Film Festival. "My nostrils will be, like, 40 feet tall," he says, simultaneously mortified and proud. A few minutes earlier, he'd gone on record against the measured melody that opens the film. "I don't want to watch this movie for the first 10 seconds and think it's about the Holocaust," he protested.

Not to worry. The teens directed, wrote, shot, edited, and were the subjects of the film, and their cinematic mosaic -- a loose inquiry into what it means to grow up Jewish in the Bay Area -- includes nary a mention of the Holocaust. (However, it does present a shot, complete with sound, of a young man wearing a prayer shawl while using a urinal, which should push a few buttons in the audience.) Currently untitled -- Jewbaca was suggested and summarily dismissed -- the piece is in no danger of winning awards, Ball reminds his charges with a smile. But it does provide an insight into why teenagers feel pressure to assimilate. "If I wore a yarmulke to school, I would definitely lose a degree of my coolness," one boy says in the film. Teens between the ages of 15 and 19 who wish to apply for the second year of the New Jewish Filmmaker Project can log on to www.sfjff.org/project or call 621-0556 ext. 302.

I Am Curious (Yellow)Sexpositive Productions producer Sarah Kennedy had plenty to celebrate at the recent Adult Video News Awards in L.A. Slide Bi Me, the first video produced by Good Vibrations, the venerable and diverse sex-toy store in the Mission (and now in Berkeley, too), garnered nominations for Best Bisexual Film and Best Director of a Bisexual Film (for the pseudonymous Felice Amador). "There's a common fallacy that making stuff that's pro-anybody -- that has its eyes open and its conscience open -- isn't hot," Kennedy declares. "We're not scared of sex."

Good Vibrations' video production arm got off to a fast start in 2001, shooting four films and releasing Slide Bi Me and Please Don't Stop: Lesbian Tips for Giving and Getting It (with a cast and crew comprised entirely of women of color). Next up is Whipsmart: A Good Vibrations Beginner's Guide to S&M for Couples, which premieres April 11 at the Roxie, followed by a video release party at the store on April 22. "It's very "not in the dungeon,'" says local doc maker Laura Plotkin, who directed the non-explicit instructional video. "Mistress Morgana is like the Martha Stewart of S&M." The pic is essentially cable-ready, Kennedy says, citing its top-notch production values. "Whipsmart is the one we've made so far that the big-time adult video industry distributors are sniffing around," she confides. "It gets really good information across, but it doesn't challenge a lot of their stereotypes. It appeals very much to the heterosexual crowd as well as to the queer crowd. We did a balancing act -- it's totally inclusive."

Good Vibrations is in no danger of selling out to the mainstream, however. In late spring, the company will release Voluptuous Vixens, which Kennedy describes as an all-lesbian riff on '70s trashy cheesecake, size 16 and larger. "A lot of people learn about sexuality by watching porn," she explains. "That's one reason we feel it's important to put a lot of different people's images up there, and show respect for the performers and the viewer." Videos are available at either store or at www.goodvibes.com.

 
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