Sergei Eisenstein and Noam Chomsky had a love child, and they named him Craig Baldwin. A subversive intellectual with a lethal wit, the Mission District filmmaker is now 25 years into one of the most astonishing underground careers in the history of American art. Baldwin is the Michelangelo of the editing room, reassembling the detritus of 20th-century found footage into dense critiques of foreign policy, media consolidation, and late-stage capitalism. Melding documentary and narrative, his reconfigured histories fuse essay and rant into a full frontal lobe assault. "Science in Action!," S.F. Cinematheque's retrospective of Baldwin's oeuvre, begins tonight with RocketKitKongoKit, his rough-hewn 1986 indictment of colonialism in Africa. Baldwin's biggest hit, Sonic Outlaws (1995), a salute to the band Negativland and other samplers, screens Saturday at the San Francisco Art Institute. The three-night stand wraps on Sunday at SFAI with a chunk of Mock-Up on Mu!, a work-in-progress that encompasses New Age religion and lunar theme parks. This evening's program starts at 7:30 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 552-1990 or visit www.sfcinematheque.org.
-- Michael Fox
The 27-year-old San Francisco Free Folk Festival is a weekend of music and dancing, with local and nationally known acts (like Tipsy House) as well as newer ones (don't miss Jolie Holland). The event's main performers reflect a mostly European heritage, with Irish, Celtic, Spanish, and Bulgarian groups, but the workshops include South Indian, African, and Mexican dance and musical traditions. Organizers have also planned plenty of activities for kids, including singing and dancing classes. The fest begins at noon both days at Roosevelt Middle School, 460 Arguello (at Geary), S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 287-9095.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Ed "The Guru of Ganja" Rosenthal is a free man today, and we may have turned a corner on the war on drugs. Regardless of how our current administration classifies marijuana, it has been the muse of many an artist, poet, and musician since it was first cultivated 10,000 years ago. (Take, for instance, the work of Cheech and Chong, anything Cypress Hill has ever done, and possibly a few Bob Marley tunes.) Painter Cornelia Jensen's latest work is a study of the drug titled "Portraits of Mary Jane." Jensen's art aims to illuminate the soul of the subject. In viewing her pieces, we see the inner beauty of a simple plant that has intrigued, outraged, and stoned generations. Go to pot (but only through July 22) at the Lola Gallery, 2517 Mission (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 401-6800 or visit www.lolabrown.com.
-- David Lionetti