April 18, 2003
What do films about a children's dance troupe in Palestine, the bizarre world of "song-poems," and the father of the motion picture have in common?
All three were created as thesis films for graduate students in the SFSU Cinema Department, and all three will be among the 202 films shown at the 46th San Francisco Film Festival, which runs through Thursday, May 1, at several venues.
"The Children of Ibdaa: To Create Something Out of Nothing," directed by S. Smith Patrick, is a short documentary about a Palestinian children's dance troupe (a member of the troupe is pictured above left) from a West Bank refugee camp that uses its performance to express the history, struggle and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Through interviews with the children, ages 12 to 14, the film offers insight into their families' displacement from their villages in historical Palestine, the physically and emotionally stressful aspects of life in a refugee camp, and the unique experience of participating in the politically motivated dance troupe.
The film has screened at 24 festivals around the world and won six awards. It is nominated for a Golden Gate Award Best Bay Area Short Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Patrick completed her master of fine arts degree last year.
"Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story," a documentary feature directed by Jamie Meltzer, explores the world of "song-poems," where people send their heartfelt and sometimes bizarre lyrics to companies advertising in the back of tabloids (pictured right), which, for a fee, turn their poems into actual records. The film features the lyric writers, producers, studio musicians -- who crank out up to 20 songs an hour -- and aficionados of the records, including Tom Ardolino of the rock band NRBQ and Ellery Eskelin, son of Rodney Keith Eskelin, who is considered one of the greatest song-poem stylists. "Off the Charts" aired recently on PBS' "Independent Lens".
Meltzer completed his master of fine arts degree last fall.
Eadweard Muybridge (left), commonly referred to as "the father of the motion picture," managed to photographically freeze a horse in motion in 1873. One year later, he murdered his wife's lover -- a crime for which he would later be acquitted. "Flora's Film: not a film about Eadweard Muybridge," directed by Michael Wilson, is simply the celluloid residue of that event. Composed entirely of found footage and sounds, "Flora's Film" cinematically channels the voice of Mrs. Muybridge, allowing the audience to eavesdrop on a testimony that was never heard in the Napa County courthouse 127 years ago.
Wilson completed his master of fine arts degree last year.
For showtimes and more about the San Francisco International Film Festival, visit its Web site.
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