Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 10

So as I explained in my previous post, I had to split about 15 minutes early from WATCH HORROR FILMS: KEEP AMERICA STRONG to make it to the Roxie for the 7:00 show (thanks for the ride, Ira). What documentary could possibly tear me away from that? Two words: RABBIT FEVER (theme alert--another animal movie). I like bunnies. But there are people who take their bunny love to extremes, competing in rabbit shows and (for the youth) competing to be Rabbit King or Queen. ARBA, the American Rabbit Breeders Association, holds national rabbit conventions, much like the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Judging the rabbits proceeds much like in dog shows, with different breeds, classes, and finally Best in Show (note, my knowledge of Dog Shows comes strictly from the Christopher Guest movie BEST IN SHOW, so I'm assuming a lot here). Joseph Kim is the eccentric star of the movie for that half of the competition. But the really interesting competition is the youths (under 18) competing for Rabbit King and Queen (or, in younger age groups, Lord and Lady or Duke and Duchess). The competition is in several parts, including a written test, oral interview, rabbit judging (comparing the youth scores to the official judges), breed identification, etc. (I feel like I'm missing one part. Whatever). The kids competing for King and Queen are the best (and biggest) part of the movie, with returning champions like Jenna, fierce competitors like Jessica, longtime runner-ups like Jeremy (whom I really felt for, but I think he always blew it in the interview), or newer competitors like Paula or Johnny. Their preparation, focus, and drive makes this movie, and it's interesting to see how a casual affection for the cute fluffy animals turns into a lifelong obsession (in a good way).

This was actually screened as a work in progress, so I don't know when it will be released to a wider audience or how it will change by then, but if you want to learn more about bunnies the ARBA national convention is in San Diego starting next weekend (Nov. 1-5).

Oh yeah, and I got a free set of bunny ears at the screening. Woo hoo, I'm a bunny!

Oh, and one final note about RABBIT FEVER. There's a scene where Joseph Kim is breeding his rabbits. For all their reputation, I've never actually seen rabbits fuck...until now. And it was fascinating to watch. They go at it for a bit as expected, and then at the "magic moment" the male spasms, falls on its back, and twitches for a few seconds. I don't know if this is typical or if this was a particularly special male, but it was a scene of sublime beauty. Just put that clip on Youtube and everyone will want to go see RABBIT FEVER.

Well, now that I've injected a note of lurid sex into this post, I just need to add drugs, Rock 'n Roll, and poster art to lead into the next film, AMERICAN ARTIFACT (Docfest theme alert: art). This movie tells the history of the rock concert poster, done by fans to publicize shows for very little money (at least originally). It's chock full of examples of the art, and is something of a crash course on the art and some of the big names, like Winston Smith, Victor Moscoso, Gary Grimshaw, Jim Sherraden & Hatch Show Print, and Frank Kozic (the man who really went national and made good money at it). Tons more can be found on the films website. It's also a crash course in the history, starting at the Filmore in San Francisco with the brightly colored psychadelia of the 60's and 70's, going through the economical black and white xerox art of the punk days, and finally the current resurgence and the creation of gigposters.com, which has turned it from a few isolated obsessives who built local reputations to a community where you know what artists are doing across the country. There are also brief mentions of the greater community, especially in regards to telephone pole flyers and "post no bills" laws. And I think director Merle Becker loses focus a bit when she talks about her own journey (either insert yourself fully as a character or take yourself out. I don't care that you're ending the movie because you ran out of money). But when it's all about the art, that's impressive enough.

Artists Ron Donovan, Chris Shaw, Dennis Loren, and Paul Imagine were there at the screening and got a bit rowdy for the Q&A (Ron Donovan even donned bunny ears and had the front row pose for pictures with then, so somewhere I'm on video clowning around with him in bunny ears). Meanwhile Dennis Loren actually brought examples of the art and various overlays and instructions he'd send to a printer, and that was fascinating.

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