Reel World

Desert Hearts
After a mere decade or two of hard work, Debra Chasnoff is making her feature debut with a high-profile, made-for-cable movie. Save Monday Night for Me is based on the true story of Karen Thompson and Sharon Kowalski, a closeted Minnesota couple who became legal test cases when a car accident put Kowalski in a coma. Both the law and Kowalski's family denied visitation and other spousal rights to Thompson (a two-time Reagan voter, by the way), even though the couple had exchanged vows and rings. Small-town homophobia, courtroom drama, gay love, political activism — it's tailor-made for sweeps week. Wendy Braitman and Michael Ehrenzweig of EBS Productions, the visionaries behind the annual IFFCON conference that matches indie filmmakers with worldwide funders, are producing the film for one of the upper-echelon cable networks (I can't say which, but Ted Turner ain't involved). “It's perfect drama,” Ehrenzweig enthuses. “It's a battle against everything, motivated by love.”

Wild in the Streets
The most discernible trend so far this year at the S.F. International Film Festival — and one I welcome — is a glitzier presence around town. Instead of isolating the festivities at the Kabuki and Castro, the fest rocks out opening night at the Fillmore, and the Golden Gate Awards presentation gets funky at Slim's. About time that the festival joined (yawn) the Black and White Ball and opening night at the Symphony as see-and-be-seen events in this neo-metropolis.

Quick Billy
Groundbreaking avant-garde filmmaker Bruce Baillie returns to the Bay Area this week for his first visit in more than a decade. Cinematheque, Other Cinema and Total Mobile Home Cinema collaborate on a week of programs reviving Baillie's landmark '60s work, and his presence will occasion a Canyon Cinema reunion. Baillie's influence was acknowledged nationally a few years ago when the Library of Congress inducted his 1966 work, Castro Street, into the National Film Registry (the annual selection of 25 American movies of historical, cultural and aesthetic significance). Call Cinematheque at 558-8129 for the schedule.

Say Anything
Shimmer, an exquisitely observed tale written by local playwright/actor John O'Keefe, airs Sat, April 15, on KQED … Regarding the proposed Blockbuster outlet at Ninth and Irving: Could anything be more superfluous than another video store half a block from Le Video?

By Michael Fox

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