Underground USA: Indie Cinema of the 80s

Co-presented by Cinespia

40+ film, two-month retrospective celebrating iconic independent cinema. Guest filmmakers attending in person include: John Sayles, Susan Seidelman, Penelope Spheeris, Wayne Wang, Alex Cox, Allison Anders, Lizzie Borden, Ross McElwee, Robert Townsend, Richard Kern, & John McNaughton. Numerous brand new restorations, including Paydirt, Born in Flames, & Last Night at the Alamo!

BUY TICKETS ($12 – $15/free for members):

Click on movie title to jump to event listing, click showtime to jump to Buy Tickets:
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An Evening w/ John Sayles + Return of the Secaucus Seven – Thursday, February 18: 7:30pm
Brother From Another Planet (w/ John Sayles in person!) + Piranha (Introduced by Roger Corman!) – Friday, February 19: 7:30pm
Master Class with John Sayles + City of Hope – Saturday, February 20: 2:00pm
Lianna + Baby It’s You (w/ John Sayles in person!) – Saturday, February 20: 7:00pm
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Seventeen (presented by the Lost & Found Film Club) – Wednesday, March 2: 10:00pm
She’s Gotta Have It (20th Anniversary of Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes w/ John Pierson in person!) – Friday, March 4: 7:30pm
The Evil Dead (Presented by Friday Night Frights) – Friday, March 4: 11:00pm
Roger and Me (w/ John Pierson in person!) – Saturday, March 5: 7:30pm
The Discipline of D.E. + Mala Noche – Saturday, March 5: 4:00pm
Eyes of Fire (presented by Up From the Depths) -Tuesday, March 8: 7:30pm
The Times of Harvey Milk (presented by The Greg Proops Film Club) – Wednesday, March 9: 7:30pm
Blood Simple – Thursday, March 10: 10:00pm
Smithereens (w/ Susan Seidelman in person) – Friday, March 11: 7:30pm
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (w/ John McNaughton in person!) Presented by Friday Night Frights – Friday, March 11: 10:30pm
Early Shorts by Ross McElwee (w/ McElwee in person!) – Saturday, March 12: 5:00pm
Desperately Seeking Susan (w/ Susan Seidelman & Rosanna Arquette in person!) – Saturday, March 12: 7:30pm
Sherman’s March (w/ Ross McElwee in person!) – Sunday, March 13: 7:30pm
Richard Kern Night (w/ Kern in person + Photo Installation!) – Wednesday, March 16: 8:00pm
Border Radio (w/ Allison Anders in person!) – Friday, March 18: 7:30pm
Repo Man (w/ Alex Cox in person!) – Friday, March 18: 10:30pm
Bless Their Little Hearts (w/ Billy Woodberry in person!) – Saturday, March 19: 4:00pm
Walker (w/ Alex Cox in person!) – Saturday, March 19: 7:00pm
Forbidden Zone (w/ Richard Elfman & Cast in person!) – Saturday, March 19: 10:00pm
My Brother’s Wedding – Sunday, March 20: 5:30pm
Talking to Strangers – Sunday, March 20: 8:30pm
Hollywood Shuffle (w/ Robert Townsend in person!) – Tuesday, March 22: 7:30pm
Vortex – Thursday, March 24: 10:30pm
Born in Flames (w/ Lizzie Borden in person!) -Friday, March 25: 7:30pm
Eating Raoul (w/ Mary Woronov in person!) Presented by Friday Night Frights – Friday, March 25: Midnite
The Thin Blue Line (w/ Producer Mark Lipson in person!) – Saturday, March 26: 4:00pm
Stranger Than Paradise – Saturday, March 26: 7:00pm
Two Films by Sara Driver: Sleepwalk & You Are Not I – Sunday, March 27: 4:45pm
Liquid Sky (w/ Dir. Slava Tsukerman in person!) – Sunday, March 27: 8:00pm

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Suburbia (w/ Penelope Spheeris in person!) – Friday, April 15: 7:30pm
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II (w/ Penelope Spheeris in person!) – Saturday, April 16: 7:00pm
Deadbeat at Dawn & Diary of a Deadbeat – Saturday, April 16: 10:00pm
Paydirt (New Restoration!) – Monday, April 18: 07:30pm
Combat Shock (w/ Dir. Buddy Giovinazzo in person!) (Hosted by Friday Night Frights) – Friday, April 29: Midnite,
Last Night at the Alamo (Premiere of New Restoration!) – Saturday, April 30: 6:30pm,
Jonathan Demme Presents: Made in Texas – Sunday, May 1: 9:30pm



Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Underground USA: Indie Cinema of the 80s”!



Slacker + Underground USA closing night party

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5/6/2016 - 7:30PM

Live Set from DJ Totally Abuse
35mm print courtesy of the Sundance Collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive

Before A Scanner Darkly and Dazed and Confused, there was Slacker: Richard Linklater’s made-on-a-microbudget filmmaking debut. To describe it as “slice of life” would be a serious injustice; it’s more like that fly on the wall took ‘shrooms and went for a buzz around town, viewing the mythically weird Austin, Texas through an ADD-riddled, psychonautic lens. Behind the initial facade of mundane city action and eccentric characters, the camera becomes an omnipotent “eye in the sky,” flitting between deep explorations of daily life and easy distractibility—including breaks in the fourth wall—in what is now considered hallmark Linklater style.

The perfect close to our Underground USA series (stick around for the after-party!), Slacker is pure, early-90s grunge metropolitanism, so gritty, so adherent to reveling in the vivid and complex lives of strangers, that it holds a place as one of our favorite indie flicks. Besides, who can forget the scene about Madonna’s pap smear?

Dir. Richard Linklater, 1991, 35mm, 100 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80S - Jonathan Demme Presents: Made in Texas

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5/1/2016 - 9:30PM

Co-presented by Production For Use

In the spring of 1981, Jonathan Demme visited Austin, Texas, where he ate BBQ, listened to punk rock, and looked at the work of a number of local independent filmmakers. Impressed by what he saw, Demme arranged for a program of Austin short films to be screened at the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City, a prestigious avant­ garde film collective of which he was a member. On October 10, 1981, the first Saturday evening after the Collective’s summer hiatus, Jonathan Demme Presents: Made in Texas – New Films From Austin was featured, including Speed of Light, Fair Sisters, Mask of Sarnath, Death of a Rock Star, Leonard Jr., and Invasion of the Aluminum People, six films that represent the punk rock and DIY aesthetic of Austin in the 1980s. The night it showed, the Collective was so crowded they had to turn people away and make the screening standing room only. This new restoration, made possible under the guidance of Austin Film Society and Production For Use’s Louis Black, is concerned with preserving the unique cultural moment of Austin in the late 70s and early 80s.

Dir. Louis Black, Missy Boswell, Brian Hansen, Tom Huckabee, Ed Lowery & Lorrie Oschatz, 1981, DCP Restoration, 116 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80S - Last Night at the Alamo (Premiere of New Restoration!)

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4/30/2016 - 6:30PM

Co-presented by Production For Use
Come at 5:30 for Texas-style BBQ on the patio with SXSW founder Louis Black!

Eagle Pennell, in just a handful of films – Hell of a Note, The Whole Shootin’ Match and Last Night at the Alamo –- lionized those laconic dreamers improbably balanced between ambition and nostalgia that have become Austin’s civic identity, the kind of epic underachieverdom that Slacker later turned into an anthropological treatise. In Alamo, a shaggy dog buddy comedy about a Houston bar scheduled for demolition come sunrise, Lou Perry and Sonny Carl Davis star as a homegrown Mutt and Jeff — Perry as the lanky Claude, who spends most of his time feeding excuses to his wife into the payphone, and Davis as the sawed-off Cowboy, the local hero who, in an allegory of the real Alamo, defends the bar’s honor against the proprietor of the Mexican restaurant next door in a tequila-drinking contest. Working from a script by Kim Henkel (co-writer of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and shot in a gauzy black-and-white by Gus Van Sant’s cinematographer Eric Alan Edwards (My Own Private Idaho), Eagle’s woozy testament to the comically disenfranchised is part stationary western, part self-medicating rodeo, where the heroes ride barstools and pray they can hang on until last call.

Dir. Eagle Pennell, 1983, DCP Restoration, 81 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Combat Shock (w/ Dir. Buddy Giovinazzo in person!)

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4/29/2016 - MIDNITE

Presented by Friday Night Frights

If Agent Orange, murder, and dismemberment are considered the worst offenses of the Vietnam war, Buddy “Buddy G” Giovinazzo’s Combat Shock is a depraved, psycho-as-hell disagreement with that very posit, exploring the unseen but fatal mental scars that plagued a generation of young vets long after returning from the jungle. A fantasmojourney of schadenfreude that Videohound described as “relentlessly bleak,” Buddy G so warps the line between fiction and reality that he cast his brother and the movie’s composer, Ricky G, as Frankie—the critically disturbed young vet whose domestic life post-war (wife, baby, fixing the toilet) is its own special torture chamber.

BUT! Lest ye come looking for some run-of-the-mill psychological drama here, Combat Shock is nothing short of a post-traumatic horrorplay, a splatterpunk opera where the notes of our characters’ despair undulate in perpetual sustain, bolstered by a score we’d describe as something along the lines of “demented Atari possessed by a tripping demon.” As Frankie spends his days in a frozen nightmare – wandering the New York streets like a drugged Raskolnikov, arguing with his wife over their mutant-freak baby, awakened in the night screaming – Combat Shock becomes a brilliant shadowbox of canned terror where the walls inch closer and closer together.

Dir. Buddy Giovinazzo, 1984, 16mm Director’s Cut, 96 min. approx.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: Repo Man (Encore!)

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4/18/2016 - 10PM

Live Set from DJ Totally Abuse

“That’s why there ain’t a repo man I know don’t take speed,” grumbles car repossession agent Harry Dean Stanton to his new punk initiate Emilio Estevez in Alex Cox’s Los Angeles dream-odyssey. The set-up is simple: a bounty is set on a 1964 Chevy Malibu driven by a nuclear scientist gone loco, the trunk of which contains a glowing Kiss Me Deadly-esque McGuffin. But the classic Hollywood genre mechanics serve as a jumping off point for so much more – as British ex-pat Cox directs his searing anarchist wit to the underbelly of Reagan’s America and the pits of Los Angeles. The film is equal parts beauty and comedy; an observational coming-of-age tale for the disaffected urban youth of the early 80’s. Cox, who hustled to make this film after his time as a UCLA student, takes to the burnt out neighborhoods of LA with the unique eye of a foreigner, feeling out the neon-streets, political economy, and class struggles of the city. Repo Man excavates these threads, yet no matter how much it wrangles the city to do its own bidding (echoing other great films made by sharp visitors to LA, notably Michael Mann’s Heat), it does so with a rare gentleness for people and place. Repo Man, similarly to the hardcore punk scene, has gone on to earn a kind of crossover cult status, while its influence on the following generation of independent filmmakers in the 1990’s is probably underestimated – from master DP Robby Müller’s camerawork on Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA cites this as some of the best night photography ever committed to celluloid, and studied the film with Robert Elswit while making Inherent Vice), to the hilarious improvised dialogue on Quentin Tarantino.

Dir. Alex Cox, 1984, 35mm, 92 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Paydirt (New Restoration!)

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4/18/2016 - 7:30PM

Live Set from DJ Totally Abuse

If The Grapes of Wrath and The Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor had a baby, and that baby was a pothead Erma Bombeck, you’d have something like Paydirt — French-American director Penny Allen’s 1981 Western gothic folktale of marijuana and morality.

A sun soaked, hazy pastoral set on a modest Oregon vineyard, Paydirt is at once a reverent ode to nature and a sly comment on the absurdity of certain down-home American morals, shot with a camera that lingers as if the lens itself were stoned off of nature’s best. As Allen’s growers hand their children cups of homemade hooch at dinner and shirk the no-good habits of their marijuana-cultivating neighbors, they tend in secret to their true pride: illegal cannabis plants that drip with trichomes. Such is the backdrop for what becomes an ingenious thriller of heists, revenge, sex in the sunlight, and feminine heroism, based on the true stories of illegal 80s marijuana growers who saw their crops rent from the ground by gun-toting ne’er-do-wells. With a screening date two days out from our beloved 4/20, Paydirt’s sensual canna-matography and wry, understated humor is an appropriate lead to one of California’s (and the Cinefamily’s) favorite holidays.

Dir. Penny Allen, 1981, DCP Restoration, 95 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: Repo Man (Encore!)

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4/17/2016 - 7:30PM

“That’s why there ain’t a repo man I know don’t take speed,” grumbles car repossession agent Harry Dean Stanton to his new punk initiate Emilio Estevez in Alex Cox’s Los Angeles dream-odyssey. The set-up is simple: a bounty is set on a 1964 Chevy Malibu driven by a nuclear scientist gone loco, the trunk of which contains a glowing Kiss Me Deadly-esque McGuffin. But the classic Hollywood genre mechanics serve as a jumping off point for so much more – as British ex-pat Cox directs his searing anarchist wit to the underbelly of Reagan’s America and the pits of Los Angeles. The film is equal parts beauty and comedy; an observational coming-of-age tale for the disaffected urban youth of the early 80’s. Cox, who hustled to make this film after his time as a UCLA student, takes to the burnt out neighborhoods of LA with the unique eye of a foreigner, feeling out the neon-streets, political economy, and class struggles of the city. Repo Man excavates these threads, yet no matter how much it wrangles the city to do its own bidding (echoing other great films made by sharp visitors to LA, notably Michael Mann’s Heat), it does so with a rare gentleness for people and place. Repo Man, similarly to the hardcore punk scene, has gone on to earn a kind of crossover cult status, while its influence on the following generation of independent filmmakers in the 1990’s is probably underestimated – from master DP Robby Müller’s camerawork on Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA cites this as some of the best night photography ever committed to celluloid, and studied the film with Robert Elswit while making Inherent Vice), to the hilarious improvised dialogue on Quentin Tarantino.

Dir. Alex Cox, 1984, 35mm, 92 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Deadbeat at Dawn & Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim Van Bebber (LA PREMIERE!)

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4/16/2016 - 10PM

Deadbeat at Dawn

In 1988, 21-year-old Jim Van Bebber took his student loan money, dropped out of film school and decided to invest his limited savings (wisely, in our opinion) in a nonstop action-packed gore-and-sex-filled street gang flick, shot on 16mm in the mean streets of Dayton, Ohio. The end result is everything our inner adolescent loves about testosterone-laden movies from the ‘80s, executed with love, skill, and excellence on the tiniest of budgets, done without even a trace of irony. Van Bebber isn’t just a natural filmmaker—starring, writing, directing, and editing—he’s an all-around badass. That’s him up on the screen wielding nunchucks and hurling shurikens with the skill that comes from hours upon hours of front-lawn practice. That’s him risking his life and doing his own crazy stunts (jumping off dams, rappelling down shopping mall parking lots) with the kind of stupidity that only comes with youth—and yes, that’s him giving his emotional all in every scene with true metalhead angst, like a hesher without a cause. Deadbeat at Dawn is our new favorite movie, and we can’t wait for it to be yours.

Dir. Jim Van Bebber, 1988, 80 min.

Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim Van Bebber

Cinefamily is here to help you delve deeper into Deadbeat, with the LA premiere of the doc that followed the career of infamous Ohio filmmaker Jim Van Bebber, the uncompromising underground director responsible for My Sweet Satan, Manson Family, and of course Deadbeat at Dawn. Made over the course of almost 6 years years, Victor Bonacore’s in-depth doc traces Van Bebber’s journey from his early 8mm short films all the way through to the production of his latest directorial effort, Gator Green, and features Van Bebber’s friends, super fans, and collaborators, alongside interviews with an eclectic group of artists including Phil Anselmo (Pantera), photographer and filmmaker Richard Kern, Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy), Heidi Honeycutt, Damon Packard, RA The Rugged Man, William Hellfire, Jessie Sietz and more.

Dir. Victor Bonacore, 2015, 107 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (w/ Penelope Spheeris in person!)

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4/16/2016 - 7PM

Co-presented by The Director List
Live Set from DJ Domenico DeCaro of KXLU

Los Angeles, California: late 1980’s. Poison are at the top of their game, while Metallica is still circling the upper echelon of the music underground. The boys are dressed as girls, the dude from W.A.S.P. bloats in a vodka-doused pool, and freakin’ Lemmy seems like the most straight-laced lad of the bunch. American music has never seen a subculture quite like heavy metal in the 80’s, and American film has seen few documentarians as sensitive to outsiders as Penelope Spheeris (Suburbia, Wayne’s World). The Metal Years is a deep-dive into the scuzzled LA underground—the camera follows as bands distribute fliers on the Sunset Strip, future MTV video-jock Riki Rachtman leaves the air conditioning off in the Cathouse club so people are more likely to take off their clothes, and—of course—great bands shred. But this isn’t a film about glam metal: this is a film about musical generations and artistic approaches. Aerosmith ground heavy metal contextually within the history of jazz and blues; Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine contrasts the glossy, poppy glam scene with the political, hard-nosed world of thrash metal happening on the other end of the Strip. Spheeris, who grew up in a traveling carnival, gives every personality their due: every frame and composition is filled with emotion to match the outlook and attitude of the interviewee. The film feels all the more vital today for many reasons, including, in our current world that still hasn’t figured out how to talk about “girls in bands,” showing that the female metal musicians of the time were far more mature, hard-working artists than the boys. But Spheeris isn’t political; she’s too serious a filmmaker for that. Instead she is gentle, delivering multiple ideas within the space of a few quick cuts while allowing each persona to speak for themselves. In a way, Gene Simmons is right when he proclaims in the opening, “this movie is about groups, metal, guitars, girls, all that stuff,” but that barely scratches the surface of the underworld that The Metal Years excavates.

Dir. Penelope Spheeris, 1988, DCP 2k Restoration, 93 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: Forbidden Zone ENCORE! (w/ Richard Elfman in wild live pre-show + after-party)

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4/15/2016 - 10PM

Richard Elfman in wild live pre-show! Elfman will cook his legendary BBQ at after-party!

A plot synopsis really can’t quite capture the delirious experience of watching Forbidden Zone, a key early-80’s classic, with freaky star turns by Susan Tyrrell—whose scene-stealing roles in films like Fat City and Cry Baby easily cemented her as one of the all-time queens of cult cinema—and Herve Villechaize, plus a frogman in a tuxedo, a human chandelier over the royal table, a catchy, frantic clutch of Oingo Boingo songs, two bald henchmen in jockstraps, and Danny Elfman as a singing and dancing Satan with a chorus line of ghouls!

Post show after-party Richard will be grilling a cedar planked whole salmon, to be served with a lemon/herb aioli and pork tenderloin in a balsamic glaze. (Small donation. Proceeds to benefit Cinefamily.)

Dir. Richard Elfman, 1980, Digital Presentation (Colorized Version), 76 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Suburbia (w/ Penelope Spheeris in person!)

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4/15/2016 - 7:30PM

Co-presented by The Director List
Live Set from DJ Totally Abuse

Filmed primarily in the abandoned housing tracts that would soon become Interstate 105, writer/director Penelope Spheeris’s Suburbia deeply embeds us among a group of disillusioned young runaways fed up with the pains inflicted by the typical cul-de-sac lifestyle. Roaming Los Angeles’s southeastern Gateway Cities in search of the family never found in their own flesh and blood is a pitch-perfect cast made up of authentic street kids and musicians, most of whom had never passed before the lens of a real camera—including a future Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist cleverly credited as “Mike B. The Flea.” This narrative follow-up to her seminal punk rock doc The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) is possessed with moments that pass for pure vérité, with uncut, voltaic performances from Southland punk stalwarts T.S.O.L., The Vandals and D.I. paired with the electricity (and danger) of some bona fide mosh pits. Up from the depths of the dingy venues now long-forgotten to a total strip mall takeover and the graffiti-laden “crash houses” these street kids call home emerges a singular depiction of a uniquely So Cal subculture. What could find easy comparisons in earlier teenage rebellion films like Over the Edge (1979) and Rumble Fish (1983) instead opts to eschew judgement for a compassionate—if at times too-real—look at a Spheeris’s special brand of (anti)hero.

Dir. Penelope Spheeris, 1983, 35mm, 94 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Liquid Sky (w/ Dir. Slava Tsukerman & Yuri Neyman in person!)

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3/27/2016 - 8PM

Slava Tsukerman will be in-person for a post-screening Q&A!

One of the coolest, funniest, and freakiest distillations of the ‘80s post-punk underground, Liquid Sky is pure madness: blending drugs, UFOs, death by orgasm and a cacophony of searing synths into a jagged neon time capsule that still thrills. In a dual role, Anne Carlisle plays Margaret (a damaged lesbian fashion model) and Jimmy (a gay junkie fashion model), who collide in NYC’s robotic New Wave netherworld. When aliens happen to land on Margaret’s roof in a pint-sized flying saucer (on a mission to extract the life force from the human orgone), they vaporize her many lovers in a dogpile of kaleidoscopic nuttiness. Russian emigré director Slava Tsukerman, himself out of place in the alien world of the ‘80s Lower East Side arthole, has big fun piling on the primitive video abstractions, fractured music, and overwrought melodrama in order to deliver a skewering satire of a weird, weird world.

Dir. Slava Tsukerman, 1983, 35mm, 112 min.

OFFSITE EVENT @ VEGGIE CLOUD: UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Chicken Ranch

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3/27/2016 - 7:30PM

Offsite at Veggie Cloud – 5210 Monte Vista St

Nick Broomfield’s documentary on the legendary legal brothel Chicken Ranch offers a kind of social archaeology that is a time capsule of many things, including perspectives on sex work before “sex work” became an academic term of currency. The film digs into the backstories of the women, their social repartee, the conflicts between tiers within the brothel, and the handling of customer complaints. It serves as a document of the professionalization of sex in America at a time when mainstream feminism had not yet taken much of an interest.

Dir. Nick Broomfield & Sandi Sissel, 1983, Digital Presentation, 74 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Two Films by Sara Driver (Sleepwalk & You Are Not I)

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3/27/2016 - 4:45PM

With Suzanne Fletcher in person!

“Showcasing a free-form approach to narrative that you’ll wish wasn’t all but extinct in American independent cinema, Sara Driver’s long-unavailable (and too small) body of work constitutes a minor revelation.” —Benjamin Mercer

Sleepwalk
A lyrical blend of dream and reality, Sara Driver’s debut film—a New York-set fairy tale rife with influences ranging from the occult and Surrealism to chiaroscuro—is emblematic of the minor, uncanny output of the underground 80s scene, ripe for celebration. Shot by longtime partner Jim Jarmusch (Driver also produced Permanent Vacation and Stranger Than Paradise), Sleepwalk exudes the photographic qualities for which Jarmusch is known, but with a sensibility steeped even further in fantasy.

Dir. Sara Driver, 1986, 78 min.

You Are Not I
Driver debuted right out of NYU with this brilliant featurette—predictive of a small but superlative body of work—based on Paul Bowles’s story of the same name. Hailed by the Cahiers du Cinema as one of the best films of the 80s, this dark and expressionist gem of early No Wave cinema was thought lost until a print was fortuitously discovered among Bowles’s belongings. Featuring photographer Nan Goldin and author Luc Sante, and shot by Jim Jarmusch, You Are Not I was shot in a mere six days on a $12,000 budget, but with Driver’s talent for prioritizing mood and texture, and dream over narrative logic, its power is undeniable—and its 2013 restoration was a major rediscovery for cinephiles.

Dir. Sara Driver, 1981, 50 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Stranger Than Paradise

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3/26/2016 - 7PM

Live Set from DJ Mr.Pharmacist (aka Gregg Foreman)(Cat Power/The PharmacyRadio)

Spare, deliberate, and in absolutely no rush to get anywhere, Jim Jarmusch’s spirited and minimalist first film may also be his purest. Willie (John Lurie), a Hungarian with a New York accent and the signature detached and deadpan air of a Jarmusch film, has his life turned upside-down when his 16-year-old cousin, Eva (Eszter Balint), drops in from Budapest. When Eva moves to Cleveland to live with her eccentric aunt, Willie and his friend Eddie (Richard Edson, drummer of Sonic Youth) hit the road to pay her a visit. Made for around $100,000 and winner of the Caméra d’Or at Cannes, this beautifully photographed, slyly existential, and utterly cool road movie ambles thrillingly along—to nowhere in particular.

Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 1984, 35mm, 89 min.

Watch the trailer! YouTube Preview Image

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - The Thin Blue Line (w/ Producer Mark Lipson in person!)

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3/26/2016 - 4PM

A landmark of the essay film genre, Errol Morris’ portrait of a puzzling murder case sounds on the surface to be a work of investigative documentary, but is really a much more experimental film – an evocative blend of fiction and journalism, interviews and artful reenactments (the infamous milkshake, for example), and packed with more questions than answers. At the time of filming Randall Adams has already been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Dallas police officer, but as the film unfolds, Morris accumulates material that suggests that any thinking person should question this conviction, and instead take a harder look at the young man with Adams at the time, David Harris. This Kafkaesque, Philip Glass-scored reverie reimagines the crime and its aftermath, elegantly elucidating the inexactness of the criminal justice system. Morris’ condemnation of the course of events is strong, subtle, and historic – Adams’ conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, in no small part due to the publicity surrounding the film’s release.

Dir. Errol Morris, 1988, HDCAM, 103 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Eating Raoul (w/ Mary Woronov, Robert Beltran & Susan Saiger in person!)

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3/25/2016 - MIDNITE

Presented by Friday Night Frights

Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive

An outlandish mixture of ’50s-themed high camp, ’70s Robert Downey, Sr.-style bizarro satire and ’80s gross-out sex romp, the indie hit Eating Raoul is Cult Film Director Hall Of Famer Paul Bartel’s finest hour. Bartel and Mary Woronov star as a sexually conservative couple (“Paul” and “Mary”, natch) who, after they need quick cash to open their dream restaurant, devise an makeshift S&M operation to lure rich horndogs to their deaths. Beyond its savagely funny swipes at the Sexual Revolution (featuring squads of lecherous swingers, all whacked out like Mr. Farley from “Three’s Company” on PCP), the film is as much a love letter to our city as a prime Cheech & Chong vehicle, for it’s crammed full of nutty local characters and enough unmistakably L.A. locales to fill an entire season of Huell Howser specials. Woronov easily steamrolls over the film’s population of wackos and sleazoids with aplomb; with her distinct mixture of understated deadpan comedy, soft sensuality and no-bullshit ingenuity, Mary’s radiant heat has ensured that Eating Raoul remains a “classic cult classic” (Rob Lineberger, DVD Verdict).

Dir. Paul Bartel, 1982, 35mm, 90 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Born in Flames (w/ Lizzie Borden & Adele Bertei in person!)

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3/25/2016 - 7:30PM

Co-presented by The Director List

On the tail end of one revolution and the eve of the next, two feminist pirate radio stations (“Radio Ragazza” and “Phoenix Radio”) broadcast commentary on the failing socialist state from a future utopian/dystopian New York, where the dream of the left’s takeover has come and gone. Lizzie Borden’s stellar and ferociously beloved documentary-style sci-fi social drama, newly restored by Anthology Film Archives, envisions an imagined future that upon contemporary viewing looks almost—but not quite—like the past, eerily affecting even beyond its time-capsule appeal. Circling around issues of race, gender, and class that apparently never get old, Born In Flames is revolutionary beyond its political narrative. Shot on a shoestring over a period of five years, using non-actors and little in the way of an advance script, it feels like a feat, carried to completion by the sheer force of ideas and passion.

Preserved by Anthology Film Archives with restoration funding by The
Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.

Dir. Lizzie Borden, 1983, 35mm, 80 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Vortex (w/ Scott B, James Russo, Steven Fierberg & Richard Edson in person!)

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3/24/2016 - 10:30PM

Live Set by DJ Totally Abuse

Fixtures of the No Wave scene, Beth B and Scott B (of the cheekily named “B Movies”) were known for their rough-around-the-edges no-and-low budget 8mm films, developed in the collaborative incubator of 80s New York’s arty and punkish downtown world. Vortex—a film noir-inspired oddity and the pinnacle of their collaborations—is a quintessentially underground paranoia infused trip, helmed by frequent collaborator Lydia Lunch (of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks) as a detective sucked into a labyrinthine world of corporate defense contracts, alongside the likes of James Russo, Bill Rice, Haoui Montaug, Richard Prince, Brent Collins, and Ann Magnusen, plus music by Richard Edson, Lunch herself, and more.

Dir. Beth B & Scott B, 1982, Digital Presentation from 1” analog video master, 90 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Hollywood Shuffle (w/ Robert Townsend in person + a live set by Busdriver w/ the Underground Railroad!)

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3/22/2016 - 7:30PM

Followed by a live set by Busdriver w/ the Underground Railroad!

A hilarious but exacting dig at our—yes, our—Tinseltown’s long history of racism, Hollywood Shuffle is the controversial comedic satire responsible for rocketing Robert Townsend (star, director, writer) into notoriety. Still as relevant as during its 1987 release, the film hitches an absurd ride on the shoulders of Townsend’s working actor Bobby Taylor, whose quest for that elusive life-altering role is continually pursued by the haunting specter of black stereotypes, shown in Bobby’s dysphoric yet uproarious fantasies of fame, and the inane oppression of distracted, racist casting directors. Like Bobby, Townsend himself went through the ringer to make this film (on a measly budget), and eventually brought to fruition through sheer perseverance and a whole lot of elbow grease. Co-written by Keenen Ivory Wayans and featuring some of the best of 80s TV screens (Helen Martin from Good Times, Anne-Marie Johnson from What’s Happening Now!! and In Living Color), Hollywood Shuffle is THE bootstrap cinema of the 80s.

Dir. Robert Townsend, 1987, 35mm, 78 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Talking to Strangers

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3/20/2016 - 8:30PM

Echoing the tour de force compositional dynamos of high-minded Europe—Antonioni, Godard, and Bela Tarr—Rob Tregenza’s inarguably ambitious debut feature, Talking To Strangers, brought rigorous mise-en-scène to the streets of the crumbling Baltimore of the 80s, and also to the American independent film circuit. Tregenza—known as a fixture of the UCLA scene (he received his PhD in 1982) and cinematographer to Béla Tarr (Werckmeister Harmonies), Claude Miller (Marching Band), and Alex Cox (Three Businessmen), among others—shot the conceptually driven feature in 9 single takes, each spanning one reel of 35mm film. Each take is an episode in and of itself, the scenes tied together loosely by the presence of one character, an enigmatic young man who falls into lyrical and absurd conversations and interactions, in what amounts to a film intellectually and formally ambitious in a way rarely seen in the US at the time of its release.

Hand-selected by Jean-Luc Godard—who called Tregenza’s blend of fiction and reality “softly and strongly imbued with the marvelous”—for screening at TIFF, Talking to Strangers is a rare 80s curio, and an unmissable component of Underground USA.

Dir. Rob Tregenza, 1988, 35mm, 90 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s: L.A. Rebellion - My Brother's Wedding

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3/20/2016 - 5:30PM

A follow up to the celebrated Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett’s second feature film is once again a South Central Los Angeles-set narrative, this time an impressionistic tragicomedy centered on the downtrodden Pierce, an aimless young man perpetually exasperated —by his obligations, the satirized upwardly mobile middle class, and it seems, life itself. Burnett—oft-compared to the great neorealists—expertly uses Pierce’s unhappiness and resistance to delicately draw out the intricacies of daily life, in a chronicle of poverty that’s beautiful without romanticizing, and political, but not overtly so. Amateur actors deliver their lines theatrically—like memorized recitations—reminding us of both the limitations that governed such low budget filmmaking, and of the added layer of meaning generated by committing an underrepresented community to celluloid. Sensitive and anthropological, My Brother’s Wedding plays like music, building to a culmination simultaneously explosive and quiet, expertly contemplative, and never reductive.

Dir. Charles Burnett, 1983, Digital Presentation, 115 min.

L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema is a project by UCLA Film & Television Archive developed as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. The original series took place at UCLA Film & Television Archive in October – December 2011, curated by Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Shannon Kelley and Jacqueline Stewart.

The Cinefamily will present a modest selection of L.A. Rebellion titles as part of its Underground USA Series. A complete overview of the original program can be found on www.cinema.ucla.edu/la-rebellion.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Forbidden Zone (w/ Richard Elfman in wild live pre-show + after-party)

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3/19/2016 - 10PM

Live Set from DJ Mr.Pharmacist (aka Gregg Foreman)(Cat Power/The PharmacyRadio)

A plot synopsis really can’t quite capture the delirious experience of watching Forbidden Zone, a key early-80’s classic, with freaky star turns by Susan Tyrrell—whose scene-stealing roles in films like Fat City and Cry Baby easily cemented her as one of the all-time queens of cult cinema—and Herve Villechaize, plus a frogman in a tuxedo, a human chandelier over the royal table, a catchy, frantic clutch of Oingo Boingo songs, two bald henchmen in jockstraps, and Danny Elfman as a singing and dancing Satan with a chorus line of ghouls!

Dir. Richard Elfman, 1980, Digital Presentation (Colorized Version), 76 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Walker (w/ Alex Cox in person!)

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3/19/2016 - 7PM

A punk film if ever there was one. After completing Repo Man, there was really only one project that Alex Cox wanted to sink his teeth into: Walker. He’d had a chance encounter with legendary screenwriter and novelist Rudy Wurlitzer (Two-Lane Blacktop, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) in the early 1980’s, and the two began dreaming up a kind of spiritual sequel to Pat Garrett—a political western set in Nicaragua that would deal with the ongoing Contra scandal, for the decidedly un-political decade in Hollywood filmmaking at the time. It took many years and several visits to Nicaragua (one of which included a botched attempt at making a rock documentary with Joe Strummer as he toured Latin America—Strummer would go on to score and act in Walker as well as Straight to Hell), but somehow these men were eventually able to convince Universal Pictures to put up the money for this thing. And so, with the collaboration of the Sandinistas and the Catholic Church in Grenada, Walker was born—a story that would completely deconstruct cinematic and narrative conventions as it trailed 19th-century maverick William Walker (Ed Harris), who, after failing in just about every other profession, travels to Nicaragua to become a mercenary, and ultimately, dictator of a country in crisis. As with Repo Man, Cox left the narrative loose and open to improvisation—though in this case, the sharp anti-Reagan, searing political message of Walker takes hold over the more abstract, gentle qualities of his debut picture. Indeed, this is the movie that Alex Cox seemed to have prepared for his entire life to make—replete with anachronisms, absurdities, Sy Richardson, and a middle finger pointed right at manifest destiny.

Dir. Alex Cox, 1987, 35mm, 94 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s: L.A. Rebellion - Bless Their Little Hearts (w/ Billy Woodberry in person)

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3/19/2016 - 4PM

35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive

A heart-wrenching portrait of a black Los Angeles family plagued by financial distress, Billy Woodberry’s Bless Their Little Hearts was in many ways the pinnacle and capstone of the “L.A. Rebellion,” the neorealist strand of filmmaking pioneered by Charles Burnett. Burnett, the high priest of this movement in film, furnished Woodberry with a script, shot the film, and even provided his own children as actors, paving the way for Woodberry to take the reins directing his astoundingly beautiful first feature, an overwhelmingly honest portrait of the Banks family. The film unfolds from inside the cocoon of the familial unit, with misfortunes from the outside world registering as invasions into what should be a womb-like space of respite from the violence of the everyday – the economy, the streets. The family feels like a stand-in for any number of families faced by challenges all too common, but is also handled with tender specificity – the most minute gestures of everyday domestic life beautifully rendered, bursting with the emotional complexity Burnett & Woodberry granted each of their struggling characters.

Dir. Billy Woodberry, 1983, 35mm, 80 min.

“L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema is a project by UCLA Film & Television Archive developed as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. The original series took place at UCLA Film & Television Archive in October – December 2011, curated by Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Shannon Kelley and Jacqueline Stewart.

The Cinefamily will present a modest selection of L.A. Rebellion titles as part of its Underground USA Series. A complete overview of the original program can be found on www.cinema.ucla.edu/la-rebellion.”

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Repo Man (w/ Alex Cox in person!)

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3/18/2016 - 10:30PM

Live Set by DJ Totally Abuse

“That’s why there ain’t a repo man I know don’t take speed,” grumbles car repossession agent Harry Dean Stanton to his new punk initiate Emilio Estevez in Alex Cox’s Los Angeles dream-odyssey. The set-up is simple: a bounty is set on a 1964 Chevy Malibu driven by a nuclear scientist gone loco, the trunk of which contains a glowing Kiss Me Deadly-esque McGuffin. But the classic Hollywood genre mechanics serve as a jumping off point for so much more – as British ex-pat Cox directs his searing anarchist wit to the underbelly of Reagan’s America and the pits of Los Angeles. The film is equal parts beauty and comedy; an observational coming-of-age tale for the disaffected urban youth of the early 80’s. Cox, who hustled to make this film after his time as a UCLA student, takes to the burnt out neighborhoods of LA with the unique eye of a foreigner, feeling out the neon-streets, political economy, and class struggles of the city. Repo Man excavates these threads, yet no matter how much it wrangles the city to do its own bidding (echoing other great films made by sharp visitors to LA, notably Michael Mann’s Heat), it does so with a rare gentleness for people and place. Repo Man, similarly to the hardcore punk scene, has gone on to earn a kind of crossover cult status, while its influence on the following generation of independent filmmakers in the 1990’s is probably underestimated – from master DP Robby Müller’s camerawork on Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA cites this as some of the best night photography ever committed to celluloid, and studied the film with Robert Elswit while making Inherent Vice), to the hilarious improvised dialogue on Quentin Tarantino.

Dir. Alex Cox, 1984, 35mm, 92 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Border Radio (w/ Allison Anders in person!)

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3/18/2016 - 7:30PM

Live Set by DJ Totally Abuse

Allison Anders, along with Dean Lent and Kurt Voss—all recent UCLA grads at the time—hit the ground running with their first feature, the DIY and Criterion-collected Border Radio. A men-on-the-run cum post-punk diary, it’s a gritty black and white film, all bright sunlight and desert, California and Mexico, rockers and clubs, and features the music of the The Flesh Eaters, Green on Red, John Doe, The Divine Horsemen, X, and The Blasters. Semi-improvised and with a palpable documentary feel, Border Radio was made by filmmakers young and passionate enough to create a visually seductive and energetic film with a minuscule budget, over the course of 4 long years—in other words, they were just impractical enough to make a treasure of 80s independent film.

Dir. Allison Anders & Dean Lent & Kurt Voss, 1987, 35mm, 87 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: Indie Cinema of the 80s - The Underground USA Mixtape!

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3/17/2016 - 10PM

Descend into the depths of our programmers’ research with Cinefamily Mixtapes, guided tours of our pet subjects of the moment! Our curators are obsessive researchers, who look far and wide for ephemera that has fallen through the cracks, and rarities that have never graced the big screen. Join programmers Tom, and Marcus for this grab bag as informative as it is entertaining—a night where bonus material is the star.

Take a peek behind the curtain and come see the treasures our programmers have amassed while putting together the Underground USA series! The 80s brought us ubiquitous technologies—home video, cable television, cheap camcorders—and in turn, people made things like CRAZY. So much was documented, from music videos (born in the 80s!) and experimental short films, to obscure commercials for punk underground businesses, alternative and public access TV, and local reports about today’s music (Nashville Does New Wave). With materials culled from the deepest darkest recesses of American media, we’ve got the 80s media boom covered. So join us for some regional hip hop, punk rock, proto-grunge, underground NYC club scenes, AND MORE!

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Richard Kern Night (w/ Kern in person + Photo Installation!)

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3/16/2016 - 8PM

with a Q&A moderated by Jesse Pearson
Live Set from DJ Bobb Bruno of Best Coast

Come early for the photo show on the back patio! Opens at 7pm!

As one of the players at the helm of the explosion of underground art and culture in the East Village of the 80s, Richard Kern was a prolific filmmaker and photographer. Kern’s raw low-budget films, shot on cheap 8 mm cameras and emblematic of the Cinema of Transgression 80s moment, were humorous, punky, violent, and shock-driven collaborations with the likes of Nick Zedd, Lydia Lunch, David Wojnarowicz, Sonic Youth, Henry Rollins, and bevy of other illustrious and notorious New York characters.

Kern, still a prolific photographer and mentor to young contemporary artists, joins us for a program of short films, a Q&A moderated by Apology magazine editor Jesse Pearson, and a show of his 80s photographs on the back patio.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Sherman's March (w/ Ross McElwee in person!)

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3/13/2016 - 7:30PM

aka Sherman’s March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

Freshly heartbroken, Ross McElwee set out to make a film about the South—namely the fallout of General Sherman’s famed march to the sea during the Civil War—but, as the film’s full title indicates, it’s much more than a documentary about the scorched earth Sherman left in his wake. Instead, McElwee crafted an ideal of cinéma vérite, a simultaneously romantic and self-effacing tour of the South (his home) and its women. An artist of everyday life, McElwee lingers on the peculiarities of the prosaic, and teases out the normalcy of the peculiar, narrating his travels with an improvisational tone, deftly transforming the male gaze into something humble and questioning, as rife with self-criticism as it it with alluring images of women. It’s intimate, but also fraught with tension introduced by filmmaking itself; his sister advises him to use his camera to meet people—”you have an instant rapport with people because you have a camera”—and he does, but it’s a complicated rapport; his camera is both a shield and an extension of his heart, his filming a form of flattery, and also distancing—as noted by McElwee’s firecracker of a former teacher, Charleen, who memorably scolds him, “turn off the camera Ross, this isn’t art, it’s life!”

Dir. Ross McElwee, 1985, 16mm, 157 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - DRESS UP PARTY: Desperately Seeking Susan (w/ Susan Seidelman and Rosanna Arquette in person)

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3/12/2016 - 7:30PM

Co-presented by Women of Cinefamily

The ultimate poster child of 80s fashion, Madonna is at her most iconic in Desperately. Channel Madge, from her infamous jacket to layers of jewelry and lace, at this sure to be candy-colored-feast-for-the-eyes Cinefamily DRESS UP PARTY!

Seidelman’s sophomore feature crash-lands us smack in the middle of a decade where baby pink and faded turquoise are so ubiquitous that even the Jersey suburbs look like a facsimile of Miami Beach. In Susan’s world, the exception to this rule is found in a dilapidated lower Manhattan, home to the punks and weirdos whose studded, slapdash get-ups give the finger to the era’s uptight yuppies. In the rift between pastel luxury and St. Mark’s Place escapism lies Rosanna Arquette’s repressed Roberta, whose daily dose of excitement comes from tracking a woman—Madonna’s similarly-mononymous “Susan”—via a trail of newspaper personal ads. Hopping through NYC’s grittiest ‘hoods on a quest to learn more about Susan’s life (and, ultimately, her own), Roberta’s story offers a screwball drama-comedy for a second-wave feminist set where women aren’t judged for their choices, and no one has to buck their true nature to find their most liberated self.

Dir. Susan Seidelman, 1985, 35mm, 104 min.

Followed by a party on the patio!

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Early Shorts by Ross McElwee

Charleen Swansea with a student in her poetry writing class in Charlotte, NC.
3/12/2016 - 5PM

Charleen or How Long Has This Been Going On?

McElwee’s tender portrait of his high school poetry teacher, Charleen Swansea, is a close encounter with an enigmatic, wild, unruly, and tenacious woman, credentialed as friend, teacher, poet, and student of Ezra Pound, among other things. Impossibly charming, Charleen is constantly pulsing with energy—be it fury or joy—and McElwee attends to this with immense sensitivity, his twin admiration and fascination purely transmitted and infectious; there’s great pleasure taken in observing her—to put it simply, the camera loves Charleen.

Dir Ross McElwee, 1980, 16mm, 54 min.

Backyard

Initially conceived as two docs, Ross McElwee established his unmatched essayistic style with this project—about a beekeeper, his brother, and as one can always expect from his work, much more. Both Southern and personal mythologies are at play, woven together by the kind of simultaneously minute and expansive gestures for which McElwee is known. Drawn to the racial tensions that he grew up with, still deeply felt, McElwee focuses his camera on the presumed uses and understandings of private and social spaces, filming his family members and the staff he grew up around with the understated precision for which he went on to be celebrated.

Dir Ross McElwee, 1984, 16mm, 40 min.

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (w/ John McNaughton in person!)

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3/11/2016 - 10:30PM

Presented by Friday Night Frights

One of the first movies to really explore the inner mind of a serial killer, John McNaughton’s 1986 Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer is a film that isn’t easy to shake, even thirty years and countless serial killer films later. Based on the real-life story of Henry Lee Lucas, the film stars Michael Rooker in a career-defining performance as the titular Henry, a serial killer who is spurned on to a murder rampage by his ex-con roommate when his sister comes to town. Tom Towles puts in an indelibly slimy performance as Otis, Henry’s roommate and Tracy Arnold is pitch-perfect as Tracy, the sister who drives a sexually charged wedge between these already volatile men. A triumph of indie cinema, the film cost a measly $100,000 and, after an extensive battle with the MPAA, would go on to gross several millions through theatrical re-release and home video. Today it is rightly regarded as a classic and a pioneer in the serial killer subgenre, its documentary feel and 16mm grit often imitated but never replicated.

Dir. John McNaughton, 1986, 35mm, 83 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Smithereens (w/ Susan Seidelman in person)

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3/11/2016 - 7:30PM

Co-presented by The Director List

Live Set by DJ Totally Abuse

Fresh out of NYU film school and governed by the unconventional spirit of her devil-may-care French New Wave predecessors, newcomer Susan Seidelman set out with the 16mm camera she purchased with what was meant to be her “future wedding” cash to capture the vibe of a specific time and place. The place is a bankrupted and corrupted New York City, replete with abandoned parking lots now home to downtrodden hookers and listless squatters. The time is the post-hippie, pre-yuppie early ‘80s, an era when the Xerox machine and a Polaroid camera are the most sophisticated tools to help your image go viral. And “going viral,” in a sense, is exactly the aim of Wren, the pugnacious, fishnet-clad leading lady of Seidelman’s debut feature, Smithereens. As Wren plasters the city with posters of her photocopied face in the hopes of being recognized, we witness how the allure of fame is often met with the harsh realities of a life of excess. Wren might be burning every bridge she’s ever crossed, but she never looks back to survey the ashes—because in this world, “everybody’s out to get what they can.” The gritty, at times brutally honest Smithereens was the first American indie to premiere at Cannes, firmly cementing the film—and its maker—among their contemporaries.

Dir. Susan Seidelman, 1982, HD Digital Presentation, 89 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Blood Simple

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3/10/2016 - 10PM

Live Set from DJ Mr.Pharmacist (aka Gregg Foreman)(Cat Power/The PharmacyRadio)

Before the film Jeff “The Dude” Dowd will share stories of his work on Blood Simple, and stick around after the film for a chance to grill “The Dude” in a Q&A!

This classic dust-coated neo-noir tracks four seedy lowlifes as they backstab, shoot, screw, and bury each other in the Texas wastelands, with M. Emmet Walsh sweating up the screen as the most crooked, creepy private eye ever to populate the Coen Brothers’ universe! Also featuring future Oscar-winner Frances McDormand as an adulterous wife trying to loosen the grip of scummy husband Dan Hedaya, the sparse story here takes a back seat to the Coens’ mindbending visual style, complete with tense, awe-inspiring camerawork from masterful DP Barry Sonnenfeld. Walsh outdoes even himself during the unforgettable, nail-biting climax involving a loaded gun, two adjacent apartments, and some very fragile drywall. Come catch the performance that won M. Emmet the 1986 Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead, and see where two decades’ worth of smart, stylish thrillers got their indie 80s inspiration.

Dir. Joel Coen, 1984, 35mm, 99 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - The Times of Harvey Milk

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3/9/2016 - 7:30PM

Presented by The Greg Proops Film Club

This tragic, powerful, and ultimately uplifting documentary won an Oscar in 1984, just six short years after Harvey Milk and George Moscone’s terrible murders. Directed by Robert Epstein and produced by Richard Schmiechen it is a stunning portrait of the wild Castro District in the late 70’s, the epicenter of gay culture and rights. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in California and a tireless advocate for humanity and understanding. His move from New York to San Francisco, his running for the Board of Supervisors, his encouraging gay people to come out of the closet and stand up for their rights, made him a hero and tragically, a martyr. Our current understanding of LGBT matters is significantly due to his groundbreaking life. Yes, you will cry and then we will dance for joy to Sylvester singing “You Make me Feel Mighty Real.” You not see a more worthy telling of a true tale of American History.

Dir. Robert Epstein, 1984, 35mm, 90 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Eyes of Fire (w/ a live set by Werewheels!)

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3/8/2016 - 7:30PM

Cinefamily’s Up From The Depths celebrates rare and weird films excavated from several realms beyond the consciousness of even the committed cult-film lover, this time with the fierce DIY horror flick Eyes of Fire. The film will be followed by set by Werewheels (featuring Plastic Crimewave and Dawn Aquarius), a Chicago-based duo here to open clogged mind passages using guitars, keys, treated voices, and machines, creating a unique transcendent wall of sci-fried sounds—inspired by gnarly biker and horror film soundtracks, bad trip krautrock, and psychedelic synthpunk.

The woods of early American settlers were a territory of savage darkness—the home of the devil and mysteriously foreboding. Like the untamed American continent itself, the woods were an unknowable place—and remain ripe for projections of fantasy and horror (see: The Witch). Surrealist photographer (and first time filmmaker) Avery Crounse’s Eyes of Fire seizes the psychology of these early settlers, in this poor-man’s-punk take on the supernatural battle between good and evil, rife with impressively fantastical set pieces—from trees with faces and a mysterious naked forest-dwelling sect, to rains of skulls and bones—all swung on an Underground USA-style shoestring.

Dir. Avery Crounse, 1983, 35mm, 90 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Roger & Me (w/ John Pierson in person!)

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3/5/2016 - 7:30PM

John Pierson, indie film historian and author of “Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema,” joins us for a film by the aforementioned “Mike”—Michael Moore’s Roger and Me.

Before Michael Moore had a reputation that outsized any film he could make, he made Roger and Me, a portrait of Flint, Michigan in the 80s, on the brink of what was then imagined to be monumental collapse—the breakdown of the auto industry, on the occasion of massive GM layoffs. Twenty-odd years later, Moore’s doc recalls what was not a contained sharp dip in the economy, but rather the beginning of Flint’s long and slow decline, emblematic of the fall of the middle class and so many American cities.

With his everyman schtick in full swing, Moore leverages performative naiveté in interviewing his subjects, from the Sheriff and the disgruntled families he evicts, to Grosse Pointe’s out of touch plutocrats—a batch of whom memorably claim to be doing their part to revive the economy by hiring unemployed Flint residents to pose as statues at an opulent Gatsby party, unbelievably ignorant of the cinematic symbolism they’re providing—all while on a quest for an elusive interview with the titular Roger, GM CEO Roger Smith. There’s a snide knowingness to Moore’s depiction of Flint’s residents, but his earnestness and sense of injustice saves him from mockery, lending a tender irony to his depiction of Great American Tragedy.

Dir. Michael Moore, 1989, 35mm, 91 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - The Discipline of D.E. + Mala Noche

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3/5/2016 - 4PM

The Discipline of D.E. (Do Easy)

Quick to cut to the chase, Van Sant’s first film out of film school adapted William S. Burroughs’s short story, “Exterminator!” This 16mm short methodically & obsessively explores the notion of “Do Easy!”—a simple way of living life, a kind of zen-like approach to productivity, with the aim of executing all daily tasks in the easiest and most relaxed way possible.

Dir. Gus Van Sant, 1982, 35mm (Print Courtesy of the Academy Film Archive), 9 min.

Mala Noche

Adapted from Oregon native Walt Curtis’ autobiographical short story, Mala Noche remains a wildly successful debut film, “like an unrequited first love; jagged around the edges, tingling with expectation and inevitably, gorgeously, unsatisfying” (Kaori Shoji). Shot in just four weeks for around $20,000 (the majority of which came directly from Van Sant), Mala Noche effortlessly captures the spirit of DIY, independent cinema and primed the cinematic landscape for the New Queer Cinema of the 90s—spearheaded by the likes of Derek Jarman, Jennie Livingston, and Gregg Araki.

Shot by John J. Campbell (a soon-to-be Van Sant regular—Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, My Own Private Idaho), Mala Noche tells the story of Walt, whose obsession with a Mexican boy living in Portland’s Skid Row—who speaks little English and most often considers his aggressive sexual advances to be confusing and undesirable— drives the story. Van Sant’s ability to constantly pass the role of “other” between Walt & his object of desire, Johnny, keeps this debut story of amour fou pulsing with an authenticity, idiosyncratic insistence, and energy that can only come from truly independent cinema.

Dir. Gus Van Sant, 1986, 35mm, 78 min.

Watch the trailer for Mala Noche!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - The Evil Dead

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3/4/2016 - 11PM

Presented by Friday Night Frights

Some of the finest seat-jumping moments ever put on film are present in this pure, gut-wrenching horror experience that only gets better with age. In an unrelenting rollercoaster ride of pure cinema, Sam Raimi splatters across the screen a tale of five college students who unwittingly unleash demons while vacationing at an isolated cabin. Star Bruce Campbell summed it up best when he recalled Evil Dead’s filmmaking credo: Often mistakenly thought to be a Michigan experience (due to Raimi and Campbell’s background), but in reality filmed in the hallowed woods of Tennessee, Evil Dead is a powerhouse of ingenuity and style in the face of inexperience and impossibly low funding. Without this film, not only would we not have Raimi’s hyperkinetic output, but there would also be no Coen Brothers (who grew from being early Raimi collaborators into filmic masters in their own right) — and most likely, way fewer over-the-top Hong Kong fantasy films.

Dir. Sam Raimi, 1981, 35mm, 85 min.

Watch the trailer! YouTube Preview Image

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - 20th Anniversary of Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes w/ John Pierson in person + She's Gotta Have It

SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, Tracy Camilla Johns, Spike Lee, 1986
3/4/2016 - 7:30PM

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his seminal film history book “Spike, Mike, Slackers, & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema,” John Pierson, the guardian angel of the filmmakers Underground USA celebrates, joins us for the evening! An insider equal parts cinephile and savvy, Pierson helped launch the careers of many a young and broke filmmaker, championing talent in the raw—a promoter and financier in the best sense, who emerged as the premier historian of 80s independent film. Pierson’s talk will be followed by one of the films he helped bring to fruition, She’s Gotta Have It.

Spike Lee’s first joint, made for $20,000 and billed as “a seriously sexy comedy”, is one of the great debuts—goofily dialectical, casually inventive, and a cocksure promise of things to come. Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), a defiantly polyamorous and fatally overconfident young “freak”, is juggling three men—a soulful monogamist (Redmond Hicks), a narcissistic stud (John Terrell), and Spike Lee (Spike Lee)—each of whom are urging her to make a choice. As the men desperately plea their case (to Nola and to the audience), the film becomes a Rashomon-tinged, near-Brechtian cross-examination of Nola’s failed attempt at polygamy. Here Lee emerges a fully-formed filmmaker (all those trademark stylistic flourishes are present, and he’s as funny as ever), and it’s all so buoyant and good-natured that it’s easy forget how radical it was. Spike at the time: “How often have you seen a black man and woman kiss on screen?”

Dir. Spike Lee, 1986, 35mm, 84 min.

Watch the trailer!

UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Seventeen

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3/2/2016 - 10PM

Presented by Lost & Found Film Club

Winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, Documentary, 1985!

This is coming of age, as witnessed in Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines’ monumental non-fiction film about working-class teenagers—girls and boys, white and black. Kids smoke dope, get drunk, sass their teachers, disobey the taboo against race-mixing, and try to break away from their mothers and fathers. The result is a free-flowing intimacy with the teenagers’ world, and “the immediacy is refreshing, and shocking. As searing as it is rambunctious, this film brings out all the middle-class prejudices against the working class that American movies rarely confront” (Michael Sragow, The New Yorker).
BAMcinématek

Dir. Joel DeMott & Jeff Kreines, 1983, 16mm, 120 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

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