Jul 11, 2005

ESR REALLY IS A SCREENING ROOM

Not that you may have missed us, but we're back. After a perfectly dreadful first half of 2005, which featured a couple of personal meltdowns, general malaise, compounded with "What Now"isms at my day job, I've completely lacked motivation- not only for writing ESR, but working on the show, and doing a couple of other writing projects I've committed to.

I've decided to finally pick myself up from the floor and make sure that the final six months of this year don't go for naught. The first six months were quite arid; however, there is one shining moment to talk about, and it is long overdue for my inclusion on this page.

In the past calendar year, ESR has expanded its operations into other media in order to reach out to this ragtag film community in order to try and form a sense of, well, community. Last fall, we released our first DVD, Retro Shorts #1, which was a hit at a couple of fairs I attended in 2004.

On Tuesday Feb. 22nd, I pushed ESR into another direction by holding our first ever screening in order to get people out to pick up a new issue of our fine publication. Thanks to the fine folks at Innis Town Hall, namely James King and Danielle Dornellas, we were able to hold a fun evening of films: Brian Random's mockumentary POP CARTS, Skot Deeming's collage film P2P, John Reed's FUDDLEBE and Bill Heath's POROROCA: SURFING DOWN THE AMAZON filled the first hour. Since these were all DVD's that were projected, I made sure that the last half of the evening featured something with sprocket holes. (People know my general dislike of video projection, but I will concede that it is getting as years go by, and if there's no film print to show instead, well it's better than nothing. However, I do tip my hat to Innis, for their video projection system is brilliant!) Thus, thanks to the assistance of my good friend Dion Conflict, we were able to show a 16mm print of the Roger Moore peplum ROMULOUS AND THE SABINES.

Both of my faithful readers might recognize the name of Skot Deeming, who has been a semi-regular contributor to our publication. His short film P2P was a collage of footage featuring space or extraterrestrial phenomenon appropriated solely from file sharing. Skot showed me this film two years ago, and I still think it's his best work that he's done to date. His was a last minute addition to the programme, and I was happy to screen it- however I can help to get more people to see this unique movie. Anyway, last December Skot and I bumped into Brian Random at Dion's "Hunkajunk" festival at The Royal. Brian (one of my best customers) invited us to his place, and showed us his recent work, POP CARTS- a hilarious mockumentary of some bored Brampton youths who bring some meaning to their life with an unusual urban sport.. I won't ruin the gag-- just see the bloody thing.

Last December, I happened to witness Bill Heath's spellbinding half-hour documentary POROROCA on his showreel (about world-class surfers who brave the mighty waves of the Amazon river), and he graciously allowed me to show it for this evening. The "draw" for the show was surely John Reed's beautiful short film FUDDLEBE, a breathtaking melange of German Expressionism, Tim Burton, and Guy Maddin, done with the perfect balance of black humour. Since this was a premiere for its cast and crew, they were the ones who made up most of the 70-odd spectators. (In fact I overheard one whining thespian grouse at the beginning of the night- "How many films do I have to see before this one?") Thus, at half time, there was a mass exodus, as I predicted there would be, and perhaps one to two dozen brave souls stuck around to see the gloriously cheesy sword and sandal epic ROMULOUS AND THE SABINES.

This peplum, featuring Roger Moore paying his dues way before The Saint and 007, is full of bad dubbing, heavy-breathing dialogue, and a real "huh" of an ending to keep us giggling for an hour. The people whom I spoke with seemed to have a good time throughout the evening, and if anything, this, forgive me, "eclectic" cross-section of pictures demonstrated my own philosophy that "all film matters", and even though I knew a picture like Skot's would be the least audience friendly, it is testament to my insistence that people be introduced to all aspects of cinema.

On top of all that, we had giveaways- congrats to Betty Pearson, Barry Price and John Porter (one of ESR's best customers), for they will receive a year's worth of ESR delivered right to their doors.

To be sure, this very first screening was a trial by fire, as I knew it would be, but I learned a whole lot and had a great time. Somehow the issue got done in the days prior to the screening during my really bad cold, but I survived. Oh yes, one weirdo coincidence before I go-- the Sunday night before the screening, I watched GODS ANGRY MAN twice. This Werner Herzog documentary about the hotheaded televangelist Gene Scott was reviewed for that issue. I later found out he died the next day.

PS- in my four-year uphill battle of keeping this publication afloat, despite the support from my contributors and readers, it took this screening for me to receive something in my PO box that I had never ever gotten before... I got a thank-you card from one of the performers in FUDDLEBE.

It's worth it.

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