Out of Sight

Doing the Landmark switcheroo, hitting the underground S.F. music scene, and encouraging chick flick-makers

The Lumiere may close for its promised seismic retrofitting and other improvements (Reel World, July 17) as soon as Thursday, Nov. 14, after the last show. Since the Lumiere's owner, Landmark Theatres, is loath to lose screens right now -- fall is the high season for serious foreign films and prestigious American indies -- it will squeeze every possible day out of the cozy three-plex at California and Polk. The date may slide a little as permit and construction details are finalized, but the movie house will almost certainly go on hiatus before the end of the month. As it has for the last two months, Landmark's Opera Plaza Cinemas will continue to host the calendar of one-week bookings initiated at the Lumiere a few years ago.

Meanwhile, the Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinemas is installing a pricey digital video projector for the Nov. 15 opening of the crowd-pleasing music documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown -- that is, if all goes well with an upcoming equipment test. Otherwise, the house will screen a standard 35mm print.

Dead ManThe darkly humorous western fable Love Will Travel opens with a young woman fleeing grimy Hamburg with her American boyfriend and infant sister. Thirteen years later, Lena (Tanja Nicklisch, owner of Lyle Tuttle Tattooing) is a bored North Beach stripper, while Levon (Johnny Goetchius of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies) plays piano in a Tenderloin dive. Unlike Hollywood movies that cast S.F. as an airy haven, local director Teddi Dean Bennett's second indie feature depicts our town as a nocturnal prison. "I made a point not to have any San Francisco icons," Bennett says. "You know that it's shot here, but I want it to be any urban area in America. Detroit was in my mind."

The skies brighten when the family escapes to wide-open Nevada, encountering (à la Jarmusch) a host of quirky characters. Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven, a pal of Bennett since they poured drinks together at the late, lamented Rat and Raven in Noe Valley, composed and performed the loping soundtrack. "I just wanted to set a mood and a tone that someone would sit there and enjoy," director Bennett explains. "It's like walking into a nice bar, and you meet an array of characters and they have interesting stories. I don't have characters that die off. I like the idea that they just continue on after the film is over. You hang out with them, and an hour and a half later you're saying goodbye, leaving the bar, and getting on with your own life." Love Will Travel has its Bay Area premiere Friday, Nov. 15, at 11 p.m. at Brava Theater Center as part of the 18th Film Arts Festival; y'all are invited to the pre-party at the Rite Spot with Goetchius and singer Pearl Harbour, who also appears in the film.

Pandora's BoxWith Ladyfest and Madcat on the scene, is there a need for another female-oriented Bay Area movie entity? Absolutely, say Cinefemme founders and S.F. State graduate film students Katrina Drabkin, Michelle Kantor, and Sirpa Nelson. "There are lots of exhibition opportunities for female filmmakers," Drabkin explains, "but there isn't [support] for building a strong script or proposal, which is the essential building block from which a good film can emerge." Cinefemme aims to accept and sponsor three short projects a year from local directors, providing the artists with access to consultants and funders.

Cinefemme also incorporates a small internship program for female high school and college students that includes helping them develop their own proposals. (After enduring a joke about Hungarian women not shaving under their arms in I Spy, directed by Betty Thomas, I, for one, can't wait for a new generation of female filmmakers.) In the meantime, Cinefemme has scheduled its first exhibition of work by women. "Ecofemme" screens Friday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m. (the latter show is free for students). Go to www.cinefemme.org for details.

 
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