Category: film fests


The Chicago Underground Film Festival hosted the Midwest premiere for Total Badass and it was killer. http://www.cuff.org

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 1 (Thursday, June 2, 2011)
I had such a good fucking time in Chicago. You might not like to hear this, but I’m personally not sorry to report that I spent a lot of time doing stuff I can’t write about. But I will say that doing the stuff I can’t write about, was sooooooo fun and badass and thrilling, that it’s a shame I can’t share the joy with you. I didn’t really get started doing the stuff I can’t write about until later in this night, but I continued to do the stuff I can’t write about as much as possible, once I started doing it. And if I had my way, I’d still be doing and would continue to do lots more of the stuff I can’t write about. But first things first:

When I got to Chicago, I met up with Amy Boyd, the hospitality coordinator. She’s so amazing and hospitable, that she was hosting me at her house for several nights of my stay. Did I mention that she’s a badass and super-nice, to boot? On this night, however, I would end up staying with another festival staffer, Emily Oscarson. Emily is a crafty and fun filmmaker who’s just a hoot to be around. Hell, I spent most of my time hanging out with Amy and Emily, as they are totally badass. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before the partying fun began, I caught the freaky, fun and oddly engaging opening night film, Some Girls Never Learn. Then I hit the after-party. Fun! I re-met up with Amy and then met the other fellow who’d be staying at her house, Scott Braid. Scott’s an old pal of Amy’s from back in her Baltimore days. He’s a programmer for the Maryland Film Festival, and as it turns out, Scott is a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with. Amy, Emily, Scott and I would end up hanging out a lot. We’d see the sun at night more than once and we’d soon be having one hell of a time.

Back to the after-party. We partied at the Bottom Lounge: booze and such. I redact the story at this point, because that’s when I got my first taste of the stuff I can’t write about. The following day, I would taste and re-taste the stuff I can’t write about. But I can confirm that it was fucking awesome! If I had my druthers, I’d do the stuff I can’t write about all day long. And obviously, all night long as well.

CUT TO:

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 2 (Friday, June 2, 2011)
Doing the stuff I can’t write about is the best way to start any day. Period. No question about it. And I know this to be true because I started this day doing the stuff I can’t write about. The rest of the day pales in comparison. So lets get on with it.

I met up with my trusted triad plus the festival director, Bryan Wendorf, for brunch and booze. Not much to report here, mainly brunch and booze.

Chad got into town this evening. He made his way down to the Gene Siskel Film Center for a brief chunk of time.

I saw The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, a doc about the loving relationship between Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his muse/lover, Lady Jayne. The film gets weird, but this is an underground film fest, so it should. At one point, the couple underwent plastic surgery in an effort to transform their bodies to look more like each other.

I wanted to see the movie that followed this, the Muslim sex-worker flick Profane, but had to eat. So I ducked out and ate Mexican food and slurped giant margaritas before hitting the after-party at Quenchers Saloon. I met up with the film fest folk as well as Chad and his pals and we drank the requisite booze and smoked all the weed you’d expect us to smoke. Then we hit the late night bar and boozed it up some more, took some pics and danced like gaylords.

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 3 (Saturday, June 4, 2011)
I think I kinda took it easy and then ate some pizza w/ Amy on Sat. That sounds right. I don’t recall seeing any films during the daytime, so I’m gonna just go with that.

A bit later in the day, I met up with my buddy Michael Galinsky and his brother Adam. We had some drinks. What the hell did you expect happened?

I saw Galinsky’s doc Battle for Brooklyn. The flick is a fine piece of well-crafted and engaging filmmaking. It’s also an important film about the abuses of eminent domain laws and land grabs by wealthy and powerful corporations. It not only entertains and enlightens, but it’ll kind of piss you off as well.

Then back to the Bottom Lounge for the after-party, karaoke-style. Guess what. Both Emily and Amy can belt out some tunes. I have pics. Dig them:


Yes, I realize that these pics are not evidence of their singing ability, but witness how great they look singing and don’t question me on their chops, you bastard.

Speaking of pics, C.U.F.F set up a photo booth. There were props, including a cool banner that Emily and Amy had made. More pics:

My new buddy Scott was also at the party. As was Jeff Krulic, the filmmaker behind the cult-classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot. We all had some of the free booze and partied until last call.

Scott, Amy, Emily and I all partied well into the night. We closed down the bars and headed back to Amy’s pad for more fun. When we saw the sun coming up, we all bolted for bed like cockroaches in the light.

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 4 (Sunday, June 5, 2011)
The first 12 hours of this day were so packed with doing the stuff I can’t write about, that it was this half-a-day that was undoubtedly the pinnacle of my time in Chicago. It was unbelievably spectacular. Sadly, at the end of this 12 hour period, I’d do, for the last time, the stuff I can’t write about. But talk about saving the best for last. Hot damn!

Oh yeah, my movie screened in the middle of this 12-hour chunk. So, there’s that. Also, I nearly missed my own film and Q&A because I got so caught up with doing the stuff I can’t write about. I have no regrets about this.

I’m not sure how the screening itself went, as I was late as fuck, but I did make it in time for the Q&A. Chad made it also. It maybe wasn’t our liveliest of Q&As, but it was pretty decent. We got some laughs and had some fun. There was some tech problem and the film that was to screen before Total Badass ended up screening after it instead. This turned out to be a stroke of luck for me because I did get to catch the short. It’s a weird narrative called The Forest about a woman who fucks a deer and has some sort of man-deer husband and a boy-deer son or something like that. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what it’s about. But I liked it.

I snuck out and smoked some weed with Chad and hung out with our ex-Austinite pal Chris Young. It turns out that blazing a bowl in front of a TV station with a cop parked about 50 feet away is indeed the safest place to get stoned.

Once high, I ventured back into the cinema to catch some short films. I really wanted to see Tyrpps #7 (Badlands) as I’d hear it was an incredible mindfuck and best seen when stoned out of your mind. Unfortunately, I was getting stoned and missed it. I did catch The Observers, a Frederic Wiseman-ish doc about a weather station in the super-windy and cold-as-tits outpost of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, where the wind gusts hit upwards of 231 mph.

The climax of my adventures of doing the stuff I can’t write about was after this screening, and if I could write about it, I’d go off for several pages here. I ain’t gonna do that. But talk about ending with a bang! The best was saved for last, for sure. No doubt about it.

After the awesomeness, I hauled ass back down to the cinema and caught Heavy Metal Parking Lot on the big screen. That was a real treat (not nearly the treat that was doing the mind-blowing stuff I can’t write about, but not too shabby). Alongside HMPL were a couple other flicks: the weird and fun drum solo flick, Moby Dick and Jeff Krulic’s newer doc in the metal genre, Heavy Metal Picnic. But for me, re-watching HMPL (and getting to see it on the big-screen) was the high point of the eve (I mean, other that all the doing the awesome stuff I can’t write about, which blew any movie out of the water, duh).

I hit the after-party and awards ceremony at Delilah’s to cap off the night. There’s one movie I regret not seeing. I probably got caught up doing the super-fun stuff I can’t write about and missed it. The flick is called Snow on tha Bluff and it looks crazy-fun. However, I did get to meet Damon Russell, the filmmaker behind the film, and he’s promised to send me a screener. That was cool. As it turns out, Snow on tha Bluff won the narrative film award at the awards ceremony I’m currently writing about. So Damon had better send me a copy.

It was at the after party that I was really starting to become aware of the fact that I had spent the day blissfully doing so much of the fantastic stuff I can’t write about that I had not yet eaten. So I snuck off for a bite. I snaked back in and met up with Michael Galinsky, Scott, Amy, Emily, Bryan Wendorf, Lori Felker (fest coordinator & asst programmer), Chad and several other old and new friends (including Damon and the filmmaker behind The Forest, Steven Summers) and we slurped up the last of the free booze.

What with no late-night after-parties and no more doing the terrific stuff I can’t write about (damn it all!), this eve was a tad anticlimactic. However, the fest did get a hotel for Chad and me on this night. I must admit that I miss partying until the sun comes up with Scott, Amy and Emily (and certainly would love to do more of the fantastic stuff I can’t write about), but sleeping in an insanely fancy hotel was kinda nice. I mean, as a third option.

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 5 (Monday, June 5, 2011)
Unfortunately, on this day, I was no longer doing the super-amazing-fun stuff I can’t write about. But the last time I did do the mind-blowing stuff I can’t write about, it was so fucking awesome, that it would have been hard to top. I would have loved to try. Fuck it, I would have topped it. And damn fate for not allowing it to be done! And, aside from not doing lots and lots more of the wonderfully marvelous stuff I can’t write about, I have no complaints. In fact, I have nothing but terrific memories of this trip to Chi-town. That, and a ton of new friends. Double-score!

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Total Badass kicked total ass at Documenta Madrid

Documenta Madrid was a hoot.  A fun-as-hell hoot.  If your documentary gets accepted to the fest, you should go.  And be ready to party.  And see good films.

I didn’t really take the time to bone up on Madrid before hopping on a plane for the fest. But I did learn a few things while there. Here are some observations: all the women in Spain look like Penelope Cruz. And the ones who don’t (including the men), look like a mix of white folk, Mexicans, Italians and Arabs.  Spaniards are shorter, on average, than Americans.  I’m 6’2” and taller than the average American, but way taller than the average Spaniard.  And the black folk (African-Spaniards?) are not fucking around with their blackness; they are as black as night.  Character-wise, the Spaniards I encountered were super-nice.  They are like Canadians, if the Canadians knew how to party your balls off.  Spaniards will throw down a party any time and any place.  And they love to be the last man standing, drinking, or smoking.  Even the women.  Which reminds me, they all smoke.

Day 1 – Thursday, May 5, 2011

This part mostly sucks, but it gets better.  My trip started on Thursday, May 5.  Which as some Mexicans and Americans know, is Cinco de Mayo.  The trip over took 21 hours… (The ellipses are to indicate the passage of time, not a lazy attempt at punctuation.)  The trip took a good deal longer than planned and I blame the President.

On the flight to the edge of America, New Jersey, I sat next to fellow Austinite Steve Sanders. Steve is an actor and pal of Michael Dalmon, of Platypus Rex and APESH!T fame.  He looks like Hellboy dude Ron Perlman.  We had a good time shooting the shit.

The flight from Austin to Newark was delayed.  The pilot made sure to let everyone know that it was the President’s fault, as Air Force One was flying around the Northeast and all planes headed that way were held up.  The delay caused me to miss my connecting flight to Madrid.  After the rigmarole, I ended up on a different flight through London featuring more delays and several hours added to my trip.  When I finally arrived in Madrid, it was 23 hours after leaving Austin.

Day 2 – Friday, May 6, 2011

As I just said, this day started on the plane.  And languished on the plane for a good deal longer.  The only up-side of my delay and diversion is that I learned that British Airway’s flights give you plenty of free booze.  Finally, by six in the evening, I was drunk in Madrid. Time to party!

I made it to my hotel and hustled down to the Cinema Palafox for the first of two Total Badass screenings.  The decent crowd at the cinema seemed to enjoy the movie.  It was pretty neat to watch the flick with Spanish subtitles.  I’m already familiar with Spanish cuss words, but it was cool and weird to see the whole flick subtitled.  We had no Q&A because one of the festival’s cinemas wasn’t ready for the fest and they had to squeeze in more screenings at the Palafox.  I had been looking forward to an awkward and language-barrier challenged Q&A, but no dice.

After the screening, the fest folks headed down to Club Costello for after party shenanigans and booze.  I made the trek with the fun-loving festival director Antonio Delgado and his pal whose name I forget.  It’s on this night at Club Costello where I’d meet many of the folks I’d end up spending the weekend with: Ruth Somalo (festival translator, filmmaker and Spaniard living in NYC), Sandra Ruesga (filmmaker and programmer for the films in competition), Jean-Claude Taki (fellow filmmaker with the doc Sotchi 255 screening at the fest), and more.  The booze flowed and the languages mixed.  The partying had begun!

Day 3 –Saturday, May 7, 2011

There’s a Documenta Madrid meet up and lunch every day around noon and several people were praising Total Badass.  Maybe because it was praise in the form of the seductive, lispy jiggle of the España Spanish language that made it so special, but it was pretty fucking sweet.  The filmmakers, crew and fans took turns introducing ourselves like at a way less sober version of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  We all got a who’s who and I figured out which of these folks could speak English well enough to be my new friends.  When a guy resembling Geraldo Rivera’s moustache began to talk, his Spanish sounded more familiar.  It turns out he’s from Mexico and had no Spaniard’s lisp.  He also spoke fluent English and had that killer ‘stache, so we ended up partying throughout the weekend.  His name is Lorenzo Hagerman and he’s a great guy who has a film in the competition called 0.56%.  He runs a micro-cinema in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula called La 68.

At the same lunch, I met Martin Guerra, an hombre from Peru, who now lives in Spain and once lived in the U.S.  He’s a great guy as well as the hospitality liaison for the fest.  It’s a fitting role for him as he’s fun and charming and speaks the sweet, sweet English.  We’d end up partying and hanging out later as well.  A pattern was developing.

Immediately after the filmmaker lunch (with plenty of red wine), I took a five hour siesta.  When in Spain, do as the Spaniards, right?  But being an obnoxious American, I had to show them up at their own game.  A two or three hour siesta?  Bah!

I got a late start to this eve, but it wasn’t quite party-time, so I decided to walk half-way across the city and see some sights.  I strolled up past the Prado and eye-fucked some fancy architecture and sexy statues while en route to the bar.  Spain is a beautiful city.  It’s filled with lots of old buildings that are covered with sculptures and other spiffy accoutrements.  Even the newer buildings embrace an artistic bend in their design and construction.  I am really liking it here.  I timed my walk to land me at Club Costello for the after party.  After arriving, I partied.

We shut down Club Costello at 3 AM (again) then headed down to a Spanish version of a heavy metal bar.  The joint is called Refugees.  Our little gang of Ruth, Sandra, Jean-Claude and a few others (whose names I forget) pounded more booze until 6 AM.  These Spaniards like to fucking party.  They party like they’re on cocaine, but they’re not on cocaine.  They also sing along to all the American songs and don’t give a shit about how gay it makes them look. And they dance.  So I gayed out with the locals.  Stop, drop and roll-gay.

I made it back to my hotel as the sun was coming up.  Never a good sign.  Or always the best sign.  I flicked on the TV and immediately saw dick and balls, titties and ass: porn.  Spain is great!  I passed the fuck out and snagged some well-earned zZzs.

Day 4 – Sunday, May 8, 2011

I met a Belgian filmmaker named Sophie Benoot at the filmmaker lunch and we hit it off pretty swell.  She directed a film about the American South that I ended up watching later in the day.  I really enjoyed the flick.

I saw a total of two movies today, the other being 0.56%.  Both were great and both were made by some new friends.  My mustachioed Mexican pal Lorenzo directed 0.56%.  His flick was an in-the-moment account of the last presidential election, examining the thin margin of victory that gave the Mexican presidency to Felipe Calderon, over the liberal candidate and former mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.  Aside from reminding me of, and re-pissing me off about, the Bush-Gore bullshit that we Americans had to endure, it was a great doc.

I strolled into my other new friend’s movie immediately after. Sophie’s flick, Blue Meridian, is a choice little essay-doc that floats down the Mississippi River, stopping in small communities along the way to revel in the local oddballs and weirdos who dot the landscape.  It was pretty sweet, beautifully shot and bizarrely engaging.  Among other things I enjoyed about the movie was getting more than a giggle out of watching the Spaniards in the audience laugh and freak out over a high-stepping, ass-shaking black high-school marching band from the deep-south.

Speaking of weirdness, people keep staring at me. This happens everywhere I go: the bar, the subway, on the streets, in the restaurants.  Everywhere, and a lot.  Sometimes it’s sexy gals, so that’s cool (happens all the time, ahem).  But it’s not exclusively sexy gals.  Hell, not even exclusively gals.  And when I gaze back at someone who’s eyeballing me, they don’t look away as if busted.  They keep on getting a gander, soaking up the me.  I’ve yet to figure out why.  I’m a bit taller than most here, but is that it?  There are plenty of folks with blue eyes running around Madrid, so that can’t be it, right?  Maybe it’s cuz I’m so goddamn pretty that they are lured to my visage like the light spewing from the Arc of the Covenant?  Or maybe they all think I’m Dr. House from that TV show?  I’m certain it’s not that I’m just paranoid, as I’ve found no weed here.

Speaking of sexiness, a sexy gal approached me in the streets and said something seductive in Spanish. I replied “No hablo español.” And she asked “Qué habla?”  “inglés.” I replied.  “Want to fuck?” she asks.  My dick plumped and tingled, as it should when a scantily clad babe inquires about succulently surrounding your cock with her hot, wet flesh.  And what kind of question is that?  Is there more than one answer?  “Fuck yes, I want to fuck, I’m a red-blooded American.” “Twenty-five.” She replied.  Euros, she meant.  I thought she meant minutes, as in: let’s fuck for at least 25 minutes.  Which was fine by me.  Hell, why stop there?  At this new realization, however, I began to barter her down to 20.  That’s when she slipped up; clearly her bartering skills were not good.  Or maybe it was the language barrier, but she offered to cut me a deal for 15 Euros (maybe she thought I was Dr. House?).  After a bit of back and forth, I settled for a hand job behind the dumpster for five bucks.  Or did I?

What I learned later is that Club Costello, the after-party venue, is in the heart of the prostitution district.   Lucky me.  And here I was thinking that there was this fine babe who just could not control her lust for me and coincidentally needed to borrow some cash.  I was slightly less flattered to learn this.

Berr-heen-ya.  That’s how you say Virginia in Spanish.  It took me a very long tome to figure out what the hell she was saying when I asked her name.  Both Virginia Candás and her friend Maria Torres are workers at the fest and we ended up partying all night at Club Costello.  It was a fun and weird night of speaking very slow Spanglish to, once again, conquer the language barrier.  Both Virginia and Maria were awesome.

After shutting down Costello, we gathered a gaggle of funsters and partied all night at Wurlitzer, a rock and roll club that’s open until 5AM.  The beers here cost 3.5 Euros (more than five bucks).  After three in the morning, they jump up to 4.5 Euros (nearly seven bones, American).  A mixed drink, while pretty fucking big, will rip eight Euros from your pocket (12 fucking dollars).  So, it ain’t cheap to get your drunk on around here.  That doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from partying balls.

Day 5 – Monday, May 9, 2011

I slept for 11 hours.  I just skipped the first part of the day and ran the night’s sleep into the siesta.  I totally one-upped these Spaniards at their own game of day-sleeping.

I got all touristy today and walked around old Madrid, looked at buildings, ate tapas and chorizo.  Went totally American tourist on their asses.

 

We unspooled our second Total Badass screening tonight.  There were over a hundred people in there and they were digging it.  I guess the word of mouth from the first screening spread and got folks riled up for the flick.  That was nice.

Duh, but I partied at Club Costello again.  I hung out with my new friends, Ruth, Sandra, Sofie, Jean-Claude, Lorenzo, Omer Oké (filmmaker) and others, whose names I forget.

Late night found us at the Wurlitzer again.  The party was thinning and the Spaniards were starting to fall behind as it was only a Mexican, a Frenchman, a Belgian and an American who kept the torch going until the wee hours.  Well, there was a Spaniard in our midst, but he’s originally from Peru.  Martin was good to go, nonetheless.

As we stumbled out of the bar, I learned of this killer Oriental express beer-selling scheme that has a well organized groups of Asian folks (of whom there seem to be very few in Spain) slinging booze off cardboard boxes like crafty entrepreneurs or Three-card Monte hucksters.  When cops are spotted, the scouts on the periphery text all the pop-up speakeasies and they simultaneously disappear like a choreographed gang of ninjas sans smoke bombs.  A few minutes after the fuzz leaves they return in unison.  And a street beer for a single Euro (compared to 3.5 or 4.5 Euros in a bar), ain’t a bad deal.  That and the beer seems sweeter because crime is fun.

Day 6 – Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today, I headed home.  I got two hours of sleep last night.  I hit the hay at 6AM and got up at 8AM to bolt for the airport.  Nothing eventful happened until I hit customs in Washington D.C., where I was to switch planes.

Hey, guess what.  Remember when Chad and I were arrested while on tour last summer? Remember how Chad’s forgotten bag of shwag-weed crumbs got us busted by the sniffer dog?  Remember how we just couldn’t come to part with our hash and I’d stuffed the weed and hash inside a jar and crammed it into my pants and then was subsequently jailed for possession after a warrantless search of our car? Here’s the tour journal entry, in case you’ve forgotten:  TOUR JOURNAL: Day 35: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Miss Marfa and Arrested

Well, in the long run on that hot summer day, Chad and I each got a ticket for possession of paraphernalia.  If we weren’t ingrates who’d had their constitutional rights trampled (and $537 citations assessed), we’d be thankful that we didn’t get a felony possession charge for the hash.  But do you know what all this means for my current and future travel?  It means that every single time I return to the U.S. after a trip abroad, Homeland Security will search all of my possessions.  They will remove every item and shake, poke and prod it.  They will open every container, test the structural integrity of the baggage itself and take up to 25 minutes searching for a pipe or maybe some weed.  Way to gobble our tax dollars keeping us all safe by thoroughly looking for a joint, TSA.  That joint (had there been one) was surely going to blow up the airplane and kill hundreds, right?  What a grievous threat I am to the security of the homeland.  Our tax dollars at work.  Always keeping national security a priority, TSA, searching for some fucking pot.  Summon your patience the next time your find yourself in line behind a harmless weed-smoking fellow traveler, folks.  You will be delayed—for your own protection.

The bookend of the trip: Every single flight I took was delayed.  The first flight was the President’s fault (all planes headed to the N.E. had to be delayed or re-routed because Air Force One was flying in the area) and it was all downhill from there.  The last leg of the trip was actually not delayed.  That is, until we landed in Austin.  We then sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half.  Once again, the pilot made sure to inform us that it was the President’s fault again as he’d just finished his visit to Austin and was about to take off.

Despite the President’s fucking up my trip, I had a blast.  I’d do it all over again in a flash.

Total Badass and director Bob Ray will be in Madrid hanging out with the Princess of Asturias for the Documenta Madrid International Film Festival.  Come see how Total Badass translates to Spanish and party with royalty!  Documenta Madrid runs from May 6-15.

http://www.documentamadrid.com/ficha.php?cod_pelicula=109

This blog has gotten a bit sloppy of late.  I added some navigation crap over there on the right for your convenience.

For the past few years, we’ve been posting a year-in-review and I’m working on getting that up right now.  Sure, it’s several months late, but we’ll get that up ASAP.  Also forthcoming is info about:

Stay tuned.

“Subversive” is a mini-art festival aimed at exploring the seemingly “benevolent” appeal of subcultures. The festival will point out the parallels that exist among the subcultures of Burlesque, the Ball Scene, Roller Derby, Lucha Libre, among others. The event will look at alternative conceptions of “masculinity” and “femininity” in spaces that redefine the role of gender and sexuality in a hetero-normative society. We will discover how these subcultures relate to each other and sociopolitical movements, and how they influence mainstream attitudes and culture.

http://subversiveart.net/screenings.html

Hell on Wheels screening on
Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 7:00pm
at Art For Change
1699 Lexington Avenue, Lower Level
New York, NY