In Japan, silent movies weren't accompanied by an orchestra or an organist but by a benshi, an actor who tripled as narrator, interpreter, and entertainer. Intrigued by the interplay of spoken word and moving image, local filmmaker Konrad Steiner has devised a postmodern mix-and-match benshi show under the auspices of the adventurous Other Cinema. Familiar scenes from Rebel Without a Cause and Crash are given a witty, poetic spin courtesy of Roxi Hamilton and Scott Stark. Jocelyn Saidenberg and Robert Gluck team up for a verbal pas de deux against the backdrop of a French porn sequence from the 1920s. Melinda Stone's commentary mimics fatherly living-room narration as she screens her faux home movie of a stuffed animal's trip to Yosemite, while Brent Cunningham brings a hint of the spiritual with his pairing of space walk footage and medieval texts on the imagined nature of heaven.
With a respectful – but not reverent – bow to benshi Midori Sawato, who performed here last year, the program concludes with clips of her virtuoso accompaniment of Buster Keaton's The General and Sherlock, Jr. “Neo-Benshi” unspools at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890 or visit www.othercinema.com.
– Michael Fox
Alms for the arts
What separates a successful artist from a pathetic wanker? A little thing called marketing can make the difference between someone who earns a living off his work and one whose handiwork is destined to be a Christmas present for Mom. The Independent Artist How to Workshop Series of monthly panels, which for almost a year has been educating local creators on skills ranging from running a film festival to launching a gallery, takes on the science of promotions at “Make Art Happen or DIY Trying.” The speaker roster features an impressive collection of Bay Area whizzes: Devil-Ettes leader and Tease-O-Rama founder Baby Doe; Brynne Cortez, who co-founded the bodacious Space Cowgirls clothing line; and promoter and spinmaster DJ Pusspuss. The organizers ask that attendees bring their going-nowhere ideas (and a wish list for next year's workshop series). The event begins at 8 p.m. at Spanganga, 3376 19th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $5; call 821-1102 or visit www.lilycat.com.
– Joyce Slaton
Spiders bite her art
Nina Katchadourian is an odd duck, but so was Picasso. Her Artificial Insemination 4 (polliwogs in a bowl with a chicken egg) recalls the simplicity and humor of his Bull's Head (bicycle seat and handlebars).Known for her creative interventions into environmental situations, like attempts to collaborate with unappreciative spiders on the repair of their webs, Katchadourian is an amazing wit. Her current exhibit, “Animal Crossdressing,” continues the bother-nature theme, but includes a banner on which caterpillars spell out “Quit using us,” so maybe we, the viewers, are the irritating ones. The exhibit continues through Jan. 3, 2004, at the Catharine Clark Gallery, 49 Geary (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is free; call 399-1439 or visit www.cclarkgallery.com.
– Hiya Swanhuyser
Unidentified Purring Object
Extraterrestrial feline Tamala blasts off from Cat-Earth and accidentally lands on planet Q in the midst of a brutal war between the Cat and Dog tribes. That's merely the beginning of Tamala 2010: A Punk Kitty in Space, an oddball Sanrio-meets-sci-fi Japanimation feature that opens today at 2 p.m. (and runs through Dec. 4) at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $5-8; call 621-6120 or visit www.castrotheatre.com.
– Joyce Slaton