We love the folks who run the perpetually challenged arthouse theaters, but the truly unsung heroes in the film scene are the small distributors working the fringes and niches of world cinema. The bravest of the bunch is Strand Releasing, founded in San Francisco two decades ago by Marcus Hu and Jon Gerrans. Strand has had the good taste (and the good sense) to acquire a remarkable array of taboo-shredding films that likely wouldnt have otherwise seen an American theater marquee, from Gregg Arakis L.A. punk fury (The Living End) to Fatih Akins pan-Euro border musings (The Edge of Heaven), from Tom Kalins gay N.Y.C. subtexts (Swoon) to Isaac Juliens overtly queer stylings (Looking for Langston). Based in L.A. for several years now, Strand is saluted this weekend with Fearless: Strand Releasing Turns 20, a mini-retrospective of signature titles including Love Is the Devil (March 6), John Mayburys hyperintense rendering of the relationship between painter Francis Bacon (Derek Jacobi) at the peak of his notoriety and a burglar-cum-lover (Daniel Craig, years before Bond). Its assuredly not for everyone which is precisely why distributors such as Strand are so essential.
Tsai Ming-liangs Wayward Cloud screens at 7 p.m.
Feb. 26-March 8, 2009