Jefferson Airplane's Bark inspires Paul Berry's film about buffalos on the moon
Ask local filmmaker Paul Berry what BARK, showing at the Mercury Cafe this Wednesday, is "about," and you end up with a shake-and-bake collection of themes and pop-culture references that include George Lucas, the Baghavad Gita, political satire, George W. Bush, buffalo on the moon and an implied post-modern anti-war sentiment -- all scored, wordlessly, by one of Jefferson Airplane's final albums, the critically shat-upon Bark. "It's a slacker movie," says Berry. "It's an anti-war, walk-away movie -- if everyone would just walk away, that would be key.... It's not a hateful movie; it's not like that crazy movie that caused everyone to riot in the Middle East."
BARK is one of those high-art projects where the more you learn about it, the less you understand it. But it also seems the film is not intended to be "understood" in the traditional cinematic sense -- or at least, understanding it is not integral to enjoying it. "I don't know how the message comes through," says Berry. "It depends on how you watch the film: You can really get the message or you can just get the music and the imagery."
At its core, the plot revolves around a synthetically constructed moon in the year 2525, where buffalo are raised to produce a miracle, high-protein jerky that is then exported to earth. There's also a love story in there somewhere. And a Jefferson Airplane album. And a war. And someone walking away from said war. (It is definitely not to be confused with the 2002 Lisa Kudrow film of the same name, but not all in caps.)
Wednesday's screening of BARK, played repeatedly in a 48-minute loop, is not the film's premiere. Berry has been repeatedly showing it in "guerilla bombings" around town and beyond, hauling a trailer with projector and generator by bike and setting up shop in surprise locations. One showing involved a Guinness World Records-esque achievement of being "the only film to have ever played underground in downtown Park City during a Sundance Film Festival," Berry says proudly.
BARK begins its loop at 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 24, at the Mercury Cafe; the event is free. For more information, visit www.mercurycafe.com