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A Strand in Time 

Wednesday, Feb 25 2009
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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 wouldn’t have otherwise seen an American theater marquee, from Gregg Araki’s L.A. punk fury (The Living End) to Fatih Akin’s pan-Euro border musings (The Edge of Heaven), from Tom Kalin’s gay N.Y.C. subtexts (Swoon) to Isaac Julien’s 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 Maybury’s 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). It’s assuredly not for everyone — which is precisely why distributors such as Strand are so essential.

Tsai Ming-liang’s Wayward Cloud screens at 7 p.m.
Feb. 26-March 8, 2009

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Michael Fox

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