Lift a glass to the sage who predicted that water would be the oil of the 21st century -- he sure knew his geopolitics. The question, as always, is, who controls the resource? If you're toasting with H2O from the tap, one day soon your monthly bill might come from Coca-Cola or Nestlé. In their latest social-issue exposé, Thirst, Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman (Blacks and Jews, Secrets of Silicon Valley) zero in on a few of the water battles being waged around the world between local populations and multinational corporations. The East Bay documentary filmmakers journey far afield to Bolivia and India, but their film's most compelling segments follow the developments just up the road in Stockton as the mayor leads a campaign to privatize the city's water supply and infrastructure. As you'd expect, a protracted and angry debate ensues between those who consider water a public utility and those who have no problem with private ownership. It's a bit shocking, though, to see how the odds are stacked against the everyday citizen trying to wage a little democracy and head off a City Council giveaway.
On the surface, Thirst's focus is the new liquid gold, but the real target is power and its abuses. The film begins a one-week run Friday at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F., with all shows benefiting Public Citizen's Water for All campaign. Snitow and Kaufman will be on hand for the 6:15 and 8 p.m. shows Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Nightly show times are 6:15, 8, and 9:30, with weekend matinees at 2 and 4 p.m. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.
-- Michael Fox
Until April 21, Headless Point Studios was a happy place filled with beautifully bizarre art and all the tools an adventurous gearhead could ask for. But a three-alarm fire changed all that, annihilating the studios and the homes and possessions of a dozen very bummed-out people. Help them get back on their feet (or at least buy some new shoes) at "Burning Sensation," a benefit featuring performers so charming that shelling out for admission barely feels philanthropic. Catch circus-style tomfoolery and sets by the Gun & Doll Show, Mark Growden, Luxxury, and Ricky Lee Robinson starting at 8 p.m. at Mighty, 119 Utah (at 15th Street), S.F. Suggested donations range from $10 upward; call 626-7001.
-- Joyce Slaton
The original object of desire named "Hot Lips" O'Houlihan was, like the film version of M*A*S*H itself, less accommodating, more disturbing, and funnier than her television counterpart. Sally Kellerman, whose portrayal of the uptight yet boiling-with-desire sexpot made her a star decades ago, has since mostly collected praise not for her acting but for her uniquely rich, velvety voice (used to advantage in her ubiquitous Hidden Valley salad dressing commercials, as well as in spots for Woolite, Clairol, and Volvo). Starting tonight, she takes center stage at "Love, Chaos & Dinner," the latest installment of Teatro ZinZanni, starting at 6 at Pier 29 (at Embarcadero), S.F. Admission is $99-125; call 438-2668 or visit www.zinzanni.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
A Strange State
It's a good question: What's the Matter With Kansas? Most of us poorly educated citizens tend to think the flat state has always been a bastion of intolerance and conservatism, but guess what? It hasn't! It was once famously radical, and according to this book, people there voted with, instead of against, their own economic interests. So what happened? Author Thomas Frank, Kansas native, editor of cranky left-wing culture-watching magazine The Baffler, and contributor to many fine national publications, may have the answer. Find out at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser