Reel World

Four in the Afternoon
Everybody loves short films, yet “shorts are treated as the bastards of the film world — there's a total hierarchy,” admits S.F. filmmaker Daven Gee. “They're made out of one's own pocket, and we bear the burdens of every cost at every level with none of the perks of feature filmmakers.”

Gee hit the jackpot, relatively speaking, with his third and latest film, the 9-1/2-minute Chemistries. The found-footage pageant screened in three local film festivals last year plus the Rotterdam Film Festival, and earned the S.F. State M.F.A. grad the Most Promising Filmmaker award at the respected Ann Arbor fest. As part of a touring program assembled by the AAFF, Chemistries resurfaces June 17 and 18 at the Rafael Film Center. Did I say jackpot? Gee will receive $19 — two bucks per minute — for every show on the 30-city circuit.

Chemistries “takes to task the notion of biological determinism around homosexuality,” Gee says. “Yes, a gay gene may help to explain some things, but it doesn't let us off the hook for intolerance.”

Since I neglected in this space to note the recent passing of James Broughton, the pioneering S.F. avant-garde filmmaker and poet, whom the Manchester Guardian once called “an odd bird in the film aviary,” I asked Gee about him. “Talk about the gay new wave,” he said. “He was it — decades and decades ago. His films were personal, daring, and nontraditional, and stylistically all over the map.” Taking the cue, Gee is planning something quite different for his next film: a “plant burlesque” made out of stop-motion animation.

The Devil in Miss Jones
“I teach [pornography] as a genre — a genre about pleasure,” author and UC Berkeley film studies prof Linda Williams said in the March 29 issue of The New Yorker. “Not that it isn't also about power, but mostly it's about pleasure.” You can measure the pleasure yourself when Yerba Buena Center for the Arts screens Behind the Green Door at midnight on June 25 during its “Sleazoid Express” weekend. … The cast screening/public premiere of Ted White's bike transit documentary, Who Owns the Streets?, is set for July 30 at Cell, 2050 Bryant. Not coincidentally, that's the last Friday of the month, and “I hope to Pied Piper a lot of the Critical Mass riders over to my screening,” White says. … The Bachelor, that Chris O'Donnell-Renee Zellweger farce that shot a few scenes around town earlier this year, opens Nov. 12. … With Joan Chen's debut behind the camera, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl, opening here in three weeks, the local actress/director has signed on to direct Richard Gere and Winona Ryder in New York this fall in a romantic tear-jerker. … Thank you to the many indignant readers who expressed their acute consternation that I hadn't received a free Metreon T-shirt. I'm pleased to report that I did get a small bag o' swag last week (but no shirt), as did many other qualified journalists, when we showed up for a pair of IMAX screenings and a tour of Sony's high-investment, high-tech acreage. Metreon's single best feature is the wall of glass overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens (so you'll always know that you're not in Orinda), while its smartest move is opening in the summer, during peak vacation and tourist season. But come the first Monday night in October, most of those 3,700 theater seats will be empty. Presumably the marketing whizzes will come up with a twilight discount (regular adult prices are $8.50, $9.50 for an IMAX film), but I say go one better: twofer Tuesdays.

By Michael Fox

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