Special Screenings

Special Screenings

By John DeFore

Light, Shadow, and Music

There aren't easy categories for what Austin film artist Luke Savisky does with celluloid. He shows material in galleries and in movie theaters, stages his own events, and collaborates with friends, but the event never quite seems to match the usual expectations of the venue hosting it. San Antonio audiences are most likely to recognize him as the guy who created multimedia backdrops for Butthole Surfers shows, but even in terms of rock music that's just the tip of the iceberg: After getting started projecting films behind late-'80s Austin sensation Poi Dog Pondering, he was recruited by bands from the Surfers to Ed Hall and Sixteen Deluxe. Sometimes trance-inducing and sometimes invigorating, his films turned rock shows into events.

Projector Jam
Films by Luke Savisky

With music by the Golden Arm Trio

Wednesday, April 28
The Wiggle Room
2310 S. Presa

Eventually, Savisky's name was a bigger draw than most of the bands he worked with. He staged events in which he stood at the back of cinemas running nearly two dozen antique 16mm projectors, each of which was looping a segment of film that overlapped or ran adjacent to another. Metaphors seemed to blossom all by themselves, as two identifiable but unrelated scenes popped up concurrently, or as one scene was interrupted by another that changed viewers' understanding of what they were looking at. Other times, the imagery was vague and abstract.

As Savisky told the Austin Chronicle years ago, "Some shows, I'll create a definite thematic structure, some I'll be concentrating on a particular neural/optical response, others I'll try to make as boring and tedious as possible. I really enjoy playing with the contrast of the instinctual and intellectual. Sometimes I'll induce a trancy feeling ... then when everyone is fully blissing, throw a wrench into it. Like life does sometimes." Infatuated with the physical properties of film, he often roughs up his loops before threading the projector. (Malfunctions are not unheard of.)

Wednesday, for the first installment of the Wiggle Room's "Projector Jam" series, Savisky's film installation will be accompanied by music from the ever-shifting Golden Arm Trio. It's impossible to say what the program will look like, but it won't be like anything else going on in town. — John DeFore

Nuevo Cine Mexicano

Dir. & writ. Benito Zambrano; feat. Ana Fernández, María Galiana, Paco De Osca, Carlos Alvarez-Novoa (NR)


Sunday, April 25
$2 suggested donation
Instituto de México
600 HemisFair Park
María was the last child to escape an abusive home, moving from the Spanish countryside to a nearby city. She's had a difficult time, though: Making friends in the city is as difficult as making a living, and she spends most of her time getting drunk in the corner bar, having unsatisfactory relationships with men who are too much like her jealous, insulting father. As the film starts, her father has just been brought into the city to be hospitalized; María invites her mother to stay in her run-down apartment while they're in town. It's an uneasy arrangement; the resentful daughter clearly doesn't feel her father deserves much sympathy, and the mother is taken aback by María's lifestyle. The mother (no name is ever given for either parent), trying to make the place more of a home, begins to buy plants and groceries, and strikes up a very formal friendship with the retired gentleman who lives in the apartment below María's. The story focuses on the loneliness of these three characters - a solitude made more poignant because their lives could be connected so easily. Eventually it contradicts the conventional wisdom that the lonely elderly are the most hopeless among us; here, those who have passed up the most opportunities over the years are the people most likely to seize upon the chances for friendship that remain.

Director Zambrano, graduate of a Cuban filmmaking school founded by author Gabriel García Márquez, says this is: "A film that seems pessimistic on the surface, but which in fact is not," and it is just this balance of tone that makes things work: he and the actors refuse to overplay a premise that could be ruined easily by sentiment. Alvarez-Novoa, especially (as the bearded old neighbor whose only friend is a dog), is able to charm the audience without manipulating us. The result is a quiet, touching film that deserves the awards that have been heaped upon it in Europe. — John DeFore

Call For Entries

The San Antonio Underground Film Festival is currently accepting short and feature films of all genres for its upcoming 10th annual event. The festival is scheduled for June 25 through 27 at Sunset Station. Submission deadline is April 23; the entry fee is $25. Deadline for late entries is April 30; the entry fee is $35. Previews must be formatted on DVD or NTSC-VHS; foreign language films must be subtitled.

Anyone who enters will receive a festival T-shirt. The grand prize winner will receive a lowrider bicycle or $200 cash. Entry forms can be downloaded from the festival's website: www.safilm.com. Completed applications can be sent to San Antonio Underground Film Festival, 8065 Callaghan #611 PMB, San Antonio, Texas 78230. •

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