Barbarella

An early modeling career plus film school results in Sirens of the 23rd Century

"We're the dolls in the doll house, and Jennifer is playing with us," actor Omewenne quipped on the set of Jennifer Kroot's dress-up sci-fi sendup, Sirens of the 23rd Century. Most of the cast -- who worked for love, not money -- brought their own jewelry and clothes, with Kroot making the final call on who wore what. "I've always had a hard time dressing straightforward and normal," Kroot confides. "I'd love to wear a costume every day." So much for a conventional Marin County upbringing.

Kroot's eye-popping debut feature imagines a world where female beauty has been outlawed, with the satire targeting both a fascist state and politically correct post-feminism. Such a view is what happens when you model in your late teens and 20s ("It was a very upsetting experience, the way capitalistic adults treat little girls," Kroot recalls) and study film at S.F. State and the S.F. Art Institute (not as traumatic an experience, clearly). So Sirens counterbalances its critique of women's excessive concerns about how they look -- fed by pressure from the media, certainly -- with a joyful nod to the pleasures of self-adornment.

Although Sirens touches on bulimia and domestic violence, the view is through a candy-colored looking glass. "I'm just so tired of realism in small films and in big films," Kroot says. "There's so much realism in reality that it's really boring. If I'm going to get to make films, I'm going to make fantasy films." Sirens of the 23rd Century screens Monday, June 16, at 9 p.m. at the Castro as part of the S.F. International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.

Playing for Keeps Personal to shareholders of AOL Time Warner, Sony Corp., Disney, Vivendi Universal, et al.: Your companies are finally cracking down on that notorious horde responsible for the boom in black-market DVDs and videos -- movie reviewers. The press-screening invitation for The Hulk declares, "By attending, you agree not to bring any recording device into the theatre and you consent to physical search of your belongings and person for recording devices." In fact, I received a less-than-cordial frisk-and-wand reception at an advance screening of Finding Nemo at the AMC Kabuki. I tried to imagine, say, KRON's Jan Wahl peddling homemade Nemo DVDs (from under her hat) in the Benjamin Franklin Middle School playground. I couldn't get a visual, though -- perhaps because Emeryville-based Pixar's latest gooey fixation with anthropomorphism isn't really a children's movie, but a dopey feel-good flick for guilt-ridden baby-boomer dads. But I digress.

The Hulk invite goes on to state, "If you attempt to use a recording device, you consent to your immediate removal from the theatre and forfeiture of the device. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability." The corporate attorneys appear to have a more liberal attitude when it comes to licensing: Apparently nobody has sicced the law on the creator of the Winnie the Pooh vibrator ($30) for sale on Good Vibrations' Web site. As S.F. animation historian Karl Cohen, who hipped me to this Valentine's Day gift, noted in an e-mail, "Did Disney approve of this item? I assume they must have since they claim to own rights and are in court to defend those rights." You say you can't imagine a Hulk vibrator? A green machine can come in very handy when you're really, really tense.

After HoursThe Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up (www.power-up.net), founded in L.A. in 2000 "to promote the visibility and integration of gay women in entertainment," launches a local chapter (the fourth, after NYC and Chicago) on Saturday, June 14, at the 1:30 p.m. SFILGFF program "Fun in Girls' Shorts," with a party that night. ... "How to Read a Film: A Visual Literacy Workshop" for high school teachers and others working with media-savvy youngsters takes place June 19-20 at the Pacific Film Archive. Visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/pfa for details, and call Steve Seid at (510) 642-5253 to save a seat. ... The quintessential S.F. movie, Hitch's Vertigo, provides the theme for the June 21 gala staged by Contemporary Extension, SFMOMA's art-and-socializing group of young professionals. For tix and info, dial 357-4086. ... June 20 marks the deadline for Bay Area artists to submit their phantasmagoric shorts for the S.F. Underground Short Film Festival, an up-market name for the Aug. 16 season-ending show in Peaches Christ's "Midnight Mass" series at the Bridge. Send an e-mail to peaches@peacheschrist.com for details.

 
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