If your idea of a good time at the movies requires a three-act narrative consisting of the hook, the conflict, and the climax, followed by a quick resolution, then Amateurs of the Impossible is not for you. Filmmakers Margaret Rorison and Zach Iannnazzi are like painters — or, as Orson Welles suggested, poets with camera lenses for eyes. They reach beyond the presentational to build film-loop elegies, plein air panoplies, and celluloid sonatas that whip up dreams, memories, emotions, and musings. Rorison, co-founder of Baltimore's much-loved roaming experimental film series Sight Unseen, contributes six shorts, including a handmade study of Danish wind power, a collaboration with the Effervescent Dance Collective, a landscape portrait of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, and a 16-mm tribute to her grandfather that is saturated by field recordings of oil rigs and fishing lines on the Louisiana bayou. Iannazzi offers three shorts, including a found-footage scrapbook of fading Northern California and a superimposed diptych of home movies that explores "mid-century male bonding and the hubris of hunting culture."
"Amateurs of the Impossible" begins at 7:30 p.m. at Artists Television Access, 992 Valencia St., S.F. $10; 415-824-3890 or sfcinematheque.org. More
Scientists used to consider it balderdash, but the belief that humans can cause earthquakes has recently been validated by a significant increase in tremors occurring in the Central United States. Nearly twice as many quakes, magnitude 3 and up, have happened there in the last six years than in the previous 36 years; in 2014, more strong earthquakes jolted Oklahoma than California. Justin Rubinstein, a U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist, believes oil and gas extraction is responsible for this. Hydraulic fracturing is part of the problem, but Rubinstein says the top culprit is the injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations into permanent storage areas underground. He believes that human activity of this sort could trigger a magnitude 7 shaker. All agree that San Francisco's expected Big One will be an act of nature, not industry, but anyone earthquake-curious should find Rubinstein's talk ("Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes") of interest. The event is part of a USGS series of free lectures for non-experts.
Justin Rubinstein’s lecture, “Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes,” is set for 7 p.m. at USGS, Building 3, Rambo Auditorium, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park. Free; online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar.More
At the risk of bringing hellfire on ourselves by not acknowledging the Bloody Mary at a different Mission punk bar (starts with Z, kicks you out a lot), we must recognize excellence when the situation demands it.
In a pair of acclaimed documentaries, local filmmaker Micha X. Peled tracked globalization’s footprints from a big-box store in Virginia (Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town) to a blue jeans factory in Shichuan (China Blue). In his revealing new film, Bitter Seeds, Peled follows the thread to the cotton-growing region of India, where small farmers grow the raw material that’s exported, dyed, sewn, and stitched into America’s favorite weekend wear. For centuries, farmers were able to make a living and afford to arrange a decent match for their daughters, but in the last decade that stability has disappeared. The film convincingly argues that the blame lies in the widespread transition to genetically modified and supposedly pest-resistant seeds marketed by a subsidiary of Monsanto. The company’s spokesman dodges responsibility, but he can’t deny the epidemic of farmer suicides triggered by shame and poverty. Bitter Seeds insinuates us into the lives of one family, with the counterpoint of an aspiring young journalist who lost her own father to suicide and who sets about researching and reporting the story for a local newspaper. U.S. farmers, lest we forget, are not immune from the effects of Monsanto’s “innovative” products. Also of note, Peled appears at several shows on Friday and Saturday.
Oct. 5-11, 2012