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A Reel Less Ordinary: Kat Shuchter and the Mysteries of Oddball Films 

Wednesday, May 29 2013

Shiny new digital movies open each week, but what if you're jonesing for the analog experience? Get thee to Oddball Films at 275 Capp! We spoke to Kat Shuchter, Oddball's programmer.

SF Weekly: How you would you describe the Oddball experience to the uninitiated?

Kat Schuchter: Oddball Films is a one-of-a-kind cinema experience with a side dish of nostalgia and archeological exploration. We are the largest film archive in Northern California and hiding within stacks of thousands of educational films are pure gems of early cinema, international animation, avant-garde cinema, groundbreaking documentaries, historical newsreels, and bizarre burlesque. We cull through the 50,000 tins of real, tangible 16mm film and bring the audience unique programs, either based around a theme, a filmmaker, or a feeling. Depending on the night, you can revel in half a dozen puberty shorts, mind-bending animation, or a program of lush experimental film-poetry sometimes all of the above. Programs are almost exclusively pulled from the archive and always screened on film.

Was there a particular show you were most proud of, where you felt like everything really clicked and the audience got it?

My favorite shows always involve puberty; there is something so inherently and universally awkward about those years that lend to the biggest laughs and cringes. I think the program "Teen Dreams and Puberty Nightmares" was some of my best work, especially when I found the print for Junior High, a pre-teen musical featuring a 16-year-old Paula Abdul. On the other side of the spectrum, my proudest moment from programming had to be screening Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising to four dozen people for their first time. I love opening people's eyes to the art of film. Oddball is great at straddling that fence between high and low art.

What sort of interesting finds do you plan to show this summer?

We have to find them first! That's the joy of this place: There is always something that is waiting to blow your mind, sitting on a shelf. I find new gems every week and more than 700 unique programs later, the Oddball well has yet to run dry!


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Sherilyn Connelly


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