Monday, June 9, 2014

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 3

The first Saturday at Docfest. Normally weekends are packed with as many movies as possible, but this time I was in Niles most of the day for Charlie Chaplin Days. I did catch two more shows Saturday evening

First up was TRUE SON, an inspirational documentary about Michael Tubbs. He was raised in south Stockton, which is considered one of the worst, most crime-ridden cities in America (the crime rate is on par with Afghanistan.) Tubbs attended Stanford, then returned to make a difference in his hometown by running for city council. Stockton has a quirky system where the city council members, though representing a distinct district, are elected by voters across the city at large. That generally leads to the wealthier residents of the gated neighborhoods in north Stockton dominating local politics and the minority residents of the poorest neighborhoods being under represented. That's just one of many issues Tubbs faces in the campaign against the well-financed, white incumbent. Did I mention he's also only 22 and this is his first campaign? The movie is only about his campaign, a grass-roots effort of an eternal optimist, learning the ropes from his more cynical campaign manager and struggling with the discomfort of fundraising. The thing is, campaign rhetoric repeated over and over again gets pretty boring and a little aggravating. Somehow I knew he was going to win (I won't consider that a spoiler since a quick Googling would reveal just that) and I wanted to see the rhetoric of Reinvent Stockton and get rid of the "bankrupt leadership" turn in to actual positive steps. Fortunately they put a little of that in the closing credits (e.g., the crime rate has fallen sharply) and even more fortunately Michael was there to talk in the Q&A afterwards. He acknowledged that governance is a different beast than campaigning, and that there's only so much he can do as one council member. But he could still rattle off a quick list of his initiatives that have improved the community. So it's good to see a smart young man who seems to be making a real, positive difference.

And then for the next show Docfestgot punk, starting with the short SOUTH BAY HARDCORE, a cool look at Sad Boy Sinister, the South Bay hardcore punk band that's been around for a few decades now, and are still pretty damn hardcore. Even if what's hardcore changes as you grow up and have kids, get on the wagon (and fall back off...I just have to mention that one of them asked me where to score some coke during the Q&A.)

And then the feature, THE BLANK GENERATION. Docfest/Indiefest creator and impresario Jeff Ross played this 1976 film off laserdisc (yes, the Roxie has an old laserdisc player.) It's an odd, frustrating, compelling, punk anti-film concert film. There are no credits. There is no context. No band is introduced. The sound is not synchronized to the images (there's an image of one person playing and another song is on the soundtrack.) You're just dropped into CBGB’s and left to fend for yourself. Which, per my understanding, is the right way to do it. But as someone who literally knows fuck-all about music, that was pretty much a nice little nap (hey, I can listen to music with my eyes closed.) At least I had some beer to help me through it.

Total Running Time: 156 minutes
My Total Minutes: 365,231

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