Posted by Billyjam, July 2, 2009 03:30pm | Post a Comment
The Second Annual Temescal Street Cinema, the unique grassroots Oakland outdoor film festival that began last summer to an extremely positive community response, is currently underway, with locally produced films being screened for free each Thursday evening after dark at 49th and Telegraph (behind the Temescal Street CinemaBank of the West Building). The North Oakland film festival's 2009 six-week summer season, which kicked off on Thursday, June 11th, distinguishes itself from most other US summer outdoor film screening events in that it specializes in showing locally made and produced films exclusively -- often films made within a short distance of the outdoor screening space. Tonight, starting around 8:30pm or a little after, as it gets dark, will be the screening of the two local films: Drylongso by Cauleen Smith and Smitten by Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto.

Darleen Drapkin, director of the Temescal Telegraph Business District, who has been doing a stellar job of developing the North Oakland area in recent years, told the Amoeblog, "The concept behind the film festival is part of our overall concept of shopping locally and trying to be independent and local whenever possible. It's easy to run Shrek and movies like that, but we try to stay local and independent and we sincerely take pride in the community here and what it has to offer." Arne Johnson, the producer and co-director of Girls Rock, which screened at the premiere Temescal Street Cinema festival last year, is the curator for this year's festival and he has chosen some excellent local films, from shorts to full-length features.

The first three weeks of the local film fest included such gems as Children's Hospital Oakland Made Shorts!, which is part of a special program of shorts made by young people at the nearby Children's Hospital in North Oakland, while upcoming weeks include Arrests and No Convictions by Judy Irving (director of temescal oaklandthe wonderful Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, available on DVD at Amoeba), a documentary portrait of an Italian-American bar owner with a fishy nightlife who redeems himself as a San Francisco Bay open-water swimmer, "escaping" from Alcatraz to the mainland. That screens next week (July 9th). And on July 16th, the closing night of the festival, will be Migrations: a series of shorts about the active state of migration in this age of no one staying put and everyone moving from place to place.

The 1998 film Drylongso being screened toinight was shot completely on location in Oakland and is about an Oakland woman named Pica (played by Toby Smith) who can't seem to find meaning in her own life and is tired of her job at an illegal poster distribution center. Unable to complete a photography project about herself at school, she grabs a Polaroid camera and decides to document the existence of young black men, whom she feels are a breed on the verge of becoming extinct. What results is a beautiful tribute to the power of community. The film's other actors include Will Power, who plays Mailk.

Meanwhile, the other film being screened tonight, Smitten, is a portrait of eccentric art collector Rene di Rosa, who is into his eighties but most active. As well as being the document of an avid collector and his vast and extraordinary collection, the movie also promises a delightful commentary on the "art" of aging gracefully and successfully, and on a shoe string budget, armed only with an undying love for art.

Tonight and every Thursday night the event officially starts at 8 PM behind the Bank Of The West building in North Oakland's Temescal area at 49th Street and Telegraph Ave. The movies will begin a little after 8:30PM tonight. Its free, but bring a chair and also a sweater or blanket in case it gets chilly later on. Runs from June 11-July 16, 2009. Movies will start when it gets dark, no sooner than 8:30 PM. If you go, I'll see you at the movies! For more info click here.

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Drylongso (1), Temescal Street Cinema (1), Girls Rock (1), Will Power (1)