Jodie Mack on Her Rock-Opera Documentary and Experimental Animation

Categories: Film and TV

Jodie Mack's Dusty Stacks of Mom
Abstract animator Jodie Mack explores a collapsing economy's impact on her mother in her animated, rock-opera documentary, Dusty Stacks of Mom.
You might think the world of experimental film is actually filled with experiments. But the genre's series of tropes are often beaten to death by one generation after another. Stan Brakhage's hand-painted films, Bruce Conner's found footage remixes and Kenneth Anger's surrealist narratives have influenced generations of filmmakers, some of whom have taken those styles to new heights. But more often than not, the work of those great filmmakers is endlessly recycled.

But Jodie Mack, who will show her work in Boulder tonight, is an exception to that rule.
See also: Anthony Buchanan's Found Footage Frenzy Is Beyond Belief

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Anthony Buchanan's Found Footage Frenzy Is Beyond Belief

Categories: Film and TV

Anthony Buchanan
Anthony Buchanan will be launching his microcinema series Cinema Contra with Beyond Belief, a program of archival films.
Almost every city has some sort of microcinema -- a small-scale, do-it-yourself movie screening series showcasing experimental, oddball, archival and underground films and videos. But Denver needs more of them, says Anthony Buchanan, so he's launching Cinema Contra, his own wandering microcinema that will be doing monthly screenings in different venues across town.

To introduce the series, Buchanan has curated Beyond Belief, a program of quirky archival and found films including the 1975 UFO documentary Mysteries From Beyond Earth, an investigation into the Lock Ness Monster called The Monster and the religious films Armageddon and Gods of the New Age. We recently spoke with Buchanan about his series and the state of experimental film in Colorado and beyond.

See also: Score Big With
From Deep, Brett Kashmere's Basketball Documentary

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Finally, a Movie With Liam Neeson That's as Good as Liam Neeson

Categories: Film and TV

Photo by Atsushi Nishijima - © 2014 - Universal Pictures
Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones.
Special guest Inkoo Kang, film critic at TheWrap and news editor at Indiewire's Women and Hollywood blog, joins Alan Scherstuhl of the Village Voice and Amy Nicholson of the LAWeekly to discuss a variety of topics on this very big podcast, including: The Maze Runner, what it's like interviewing director Steve McQueen, Amy's highlights from the Toronto Film Festival, Kevin Smith's Tusk, and Matthew Crawley, err, Dan Stevens's role in two movies out now -- A Walk Among the Tombstones and The Guest. Alan makes an anti-recommendation for Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? and Inkoo heartily endorses season 2 of Masters of Sex on Showtime.

Phew! Listen to it all below, and don't forget to...

Author Cheryl Strayed Is Ready to Get Wild in Denver Friday

Courtesy Fox Searchlight
Reese Witherspoon stars as Cheryl Strayed in Wild.
In 1995, after the death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed looked for comfort by dabbling in sex and heroin. When that only made her problems worse, Strayed embarked on an ambitious journey to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail. In 2012 Strayed turned her trek into a memoir: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. This Friday, September 19, Strayed will be at the Paramount Theatre to talk about her book and the upcoming film version starring Reese Witherspoon.

See also: Valley Uprising Tells the Tale of Climbing's Rogue Heroes -- and Its Conflicts

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Brock Wilbur on Recording His New Album, Burning Material and Performing Before Mom

Spitfire Creative
Screenwriter, actor, podcaster and comedian Brock Wilbur has outsized ambition that matches his mountainous physique. He records at least an hour of standup every year, then starts fresh with new material; he also writes and produces films, and tours the country. He'll be bringing a cornucopia of comedy to Denver this weekend, where he will record his set and also the podcast he co-hosts with Rob Ondarza and Joe Starr. This is the third live album for the industrious Wilbur, which will be recording his free shows Saturday, September 20 at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. Wilbur is also featured on Friday, September 19 at the Sexpot Comedy Aerial Menagerie showcase with locals Jay Gillespie and Haley Driscoll, along with co-headliners David Hunstberger and Dan St. Germain.
Westword caught up with Wilbur before his trip to town to discuss his slash- and-burn work ethic, balancing screenwriting with comedy, and the motherly guest of honor at his taping.

See also: Tim Heidecker on Bedtime Stories and Touring with Dr. Steve Brule

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International Film Series Keeps 35MM Projection Alive

Categories: Film and TV

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind will be projected as part of the Actual Film series.
When the International Film Series launched in 1941, there were no debates about the merits of film verses digital distribution. There were no videos, no DVDs, no Blu-rays and no digital files. Film was film. You could touch it and scratch it and cut it and paint it and what you did would impact the image.

Despite a handful of technological innovations, the basics of projection didn't change much for the first 100 years of film history, says Pablo Kjolseth, executive director of the IFS, Boulder's arthouse calendar film program, where each night a different film plays on the big screen, sometimes in digital formats and sometimes on film. Now, Kjolseth worries projection technology is designed to fail every five-to-ten years, just like iPhones and other newer technologies. Planned obsolesence threatens smaller film series like his.

See also: International Film Series Offers a Trifecta of Terry Gilliam

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Davey B. Gravey's Little Movies on a Little Screen

Categories: Film and TV

Davey B. Gravey
Davey B. Gravey's Tiny Cinema seats four.
Davey B. Gravey's Tiny Cinema is everything the size-obsessed movie industry is not. The screen is small. The theater fits no more than four. The longest film lasts seven minutes. Instead of projecting the latest digital files, Gravey shows movies with an old Super 8 mm, home projector. Forgoing booming speakers, he plays the soundtrack on an acoustic-electric ukulele and a touch-pad synthesizer.

See also: Could Tiny Houses Solve a Big Problem in Denver?

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Filmmaker Jim Havey on His Colorado Water Documentary

Categories: Film and TV

The Great Divide
Jim Havey's documentary The Great Divide tells the story of water in Colorado.
Jim Havey's soon-to-be-finished feature documentary, The Great Divide, aims to tell the tangled story of water in Colorado -- a subject as vast as the state and the eight states that Colorado supplies water to. He's looking at the acequias (ditch irrigation systems) in the San Luis Valley, the export of water to Arizona, California and beyond, and the legal complexities of who owns water and why. The film will include interviews with activists and water companies alike. And to make it, Havey has raised over $300,000 and is planning to raise another $20,000 from a Kickstarter campaign that launched on September 8.

Westword caught up with Havey to talk more about the movie and the campaign.

See also: Colorado Water History to Get Its Closeup in
The Great Divide

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Valley Uprising Tells the Tale of Climbing's Rogue Heroes -- and its Conflicts

Glen Denny
Royal Robbins on El Capitan's North American Wall, 1964.
Sender Films took seven years to make Valley Uprising, its joyful, wistful history of the climbing counterculture of Yosemite. And as filmmaker Peter Mortimer told the audience at the feature's premiere in Boulder last night, they used every last hour of that time.

"[Partner Nick Rosen] and I haven't seen the final cut of this," he said. "Actually, no one has seen the final, final cut."

Valley Uprising, which comes to the Oriental Theater this Saturday, September 13, has no pretensions of being a comprehensive history of the sport; the credits begin with a long list of influential climbers who don't appear in the film. Instead, it separates Yosemite's history into three broad swaths, the Golden Age of the 1950s and '60s, the Stonemasters' free-climbing revolution in the 1970s, and the Stone Monkeys' reign from 1998 until the present day.

See also: In Valley Uprising, a Boulder Filmmaker Explores Yosemite's Climbing Counterculture

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Documentary Filmmaker Randy Murray Captures Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Doc

Categories: Film and TV

The Joe Show
The Joe Show follows Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his relationship with the press.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio loves the media and the media loves him. So does the Republican political establishment. So does the Tea Party. Through his six terms in office, the 82-year-old sheriff has perfected the media stunt and used public relation campaigns to keep journalists on his side -- or at least by his side. (A definite exception to the rule for critical coverage of Sheriff Joe is our partner paper, Phoenix New Times; at, you can find dozens of stories on Arpaio -- including accounts of how he arrested the then- owners because they refused to turn over readers' confidential information.)

Documentary filmmaker Randy Murray set out to chronicle the kooky politician -- and after eight years of filming was stunned by the number of lives the sheriff had destroyed. What started as a fluffy film had turned into a major expose of media corruption and political scandal. The Joe Show will screen Sunday as part of the DocuWest International Film Festival; in advance of that event, we spoke with Murray about his film.

See also: Skanks Documents a Community Drag Musical in Birmingham, Alabama

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