Archive for April, 2009

“Escape the Dullness of Life” – Renaldo Kuhler, “Rocaterrania”

Posted in Film, Richmond with tags , , , on April 26, 2009 by kozmicdogz

jrff09posterAlthough the James River Film Festival ran for 8 days (April 12-19), I did not manage to see any of the films until the last two days. Fortunately I was still able to see 6 films. As with previous years many of the films I was unfamiliar with and always pleasantly surprised!

Many of the filmmakers and subjects of the films embody the independent spirit of the James River Film Festival. I feel lucky to live in Richmond and have enjoyed this festival for so many years. A big thanks goes out to Mike Jones, James Parrish, and all of the other volunteers and supporters.

Saturday I saw:

“Monster Road” a documentary on clayation-extroidinaire Bruce Bickford. Director Brett Ingram introduced his film about the reclusive filmmaker who’s claim to fame was the collaboration with Frank Zappa, “Baby Snakes.” His obsessive, solitary life is portrayed in Ingram’s 2004 documentary. It was fascinating to watch Bickford work and see his massive collections of clay figures and sets that have accumulated in his house over 30 years. Bickford attended the festival and ran an animation workshop on Friday. He answered questions after the showing of the documentary about his work.

“The Exiles” was a b&w 1961 film by Kent Mackenzie. Mackenzie, who only made two films, portrayed a group of Native Americans who had left the reservation to live in the Bunker Hill neighborhood of Los Angeles. The film has a documentary style and follows a group of friends’ night out on the town in this neighborhood which had become a haven for Native Americans. Never finding a major distributor, “The Exiles” floated around the fringes of the film world for years and gained a cult status as one of the few films depicting contemporary Native Americans.

At Gallery 5 we attended a screening of 2 of Bickford’s films, “Prometheus’ Garden” and “Cas’l” with Richmond musicians, Coby Batty and Johnny Hott providing the live soundtrack for the latter. More of Bickford’s armies of mutating, sword wielding soldiers and landscapes.

Sunday I spent the day at the Byrd:

“Rocaterrania” (2009, 74 min) also by Brett Ingram is a documentary about the scientific illustrator, Renaldo Kuhler, a fascinating individual who has created a society, complete with culture, history, clothing, political parties, myths and stories. Renaldo has created his fantasy world, “Rocaterrania” through drawings that he has drawn over decades. In the film Renaldo says that, “Reality is like meat, potatoes, and green beans, while fantasy is like fruit and dessert…” and that we need both. Ingram said that to gain the trust of Renaldo was a process that took over 12 years. This was my favorite film of the festival, a portrait of a true individualist, idealist, who lives life on his own terms.

“Raiders of the Lost Ark: the Adaptation” (1982-1989, 100 min). Chris Strompolos introduced his fan film of Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost ARk.” Strompolos and his two compatriots, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb, who grew up on the Mississippi gulf coast, started remaking Raiders every summer as teens and 7 years later they finally finished.
After sitting on the shelf for years it was dusted off and has been met with much humor and created quite a bit of buzz. To follow their dreams of film making, Stromolos and Zala have since formed an independent film company,Rolling Boulder Films. We look forward to seeing more from these two!

“Stalin Thought of You” (2008). Kevin McNeer’s film is a thoughtful and amazing documentary of Russian political cartooninst, Boris Efimov. Efimov who recently passed away at over 100 years of age lived through the Russian revolution, WWII, and survived the Stalin years. Stalin imprisioned Efimov’s brother who eventually died in a labor camp and as Efimov worked his satire and sarcasm, he was always fearful that he also could be taken away. Once he was even instructed by Stalin himself,to draw a cartoon depicting Eisenhower and ridicule his plans for defending the U.S. from the USSR from the frozen north.

McNeer, who grew up in Richmond, VA, says he sees Efimov as a Zelig-like character, an observer, as well as a participant of history and having the skills and luck to survive. McNeer is still tweaking his film and looking for more festival opportunities.

I can’t wait until next year! See you at the movies!


UR Student Film Festival

Posted in Film with tags , , , , on April 25, 2009 by kozmicdogz

UR Student Documentary Films @ Student Film Festival.  Free! I believe this is the first of its’ kind at UR.

From press release:

Three student documentaries at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 26 in the Adams Auditorium, Boatwright Library.

“Slam Richmond” – Poetry slams are competitive performances that are gritty and contemporary. The Richmond team finished 17th at the national championship last year. This documentary, the class project in Documentary II, takes you behind the scenes as six poets compete for four slots on the Richmond team.

“Pebbles in the Road” – The uplifting story of a homeless 16-year-old girl’s shot at musical stardom. A film by Logan Turner.

“State of Sangha” – This film takes you into the “Golden Land” of Burmese Buddhism and shows how the Buddhists there make finding freedom in one of the world’s most oppressive military dictatorships possible. A film by Theodore Martland.

vaindpfest2009There is also the Virginia Independent Film Festival at the Byrd on Sunday from noon until 10pm. The categories are documentaries, short films, and features. $10.00 for an all day pass or $5.00 a category. This is sponsored by the Virginia Film Office.

I Got Lucky!

Posted in Music with tags , on April 23, 2009 by kozmicdogz
The Southside Stimulus Package!

The Southside Stimulus Package!

I saw the Happy Lucky Combo this past Wednesday, April 22, at O’Tooles.

They were great and after the first set,  Emily Avesian  on baritone sax and Nick Lewis on clarinet sat in with our Happy Lucky Combo:  Barry, Pippin, and Dave! The new expanded O’Tooles was also great fun!

Richmond is lucky to have this truly Happy Combo!

A Truly Happy Lucky Combo!

A Truly Happy Lucky Combo!

I have confirmed they are playing again next Wednesday, April 29th, at O’Tooles, so catch them if you can  from 8-10 pm! You will not be disappointed! And will leave a happier person!

A Full Friday at the James River Film Festival.

Posted in Film with tags , , on April 17, 2009 by kozmicdogz

jrff09posterFrom “Greed” at the main Richmond Public Library downtown, claymation workshop at VCU, Maggie Walker student films, the reception, the 2009 juried show, Guy Maddin’s “My Winnipeg,” and a midnight show at the Byrd! Friday is always a good day. If you have not been able to attend any of the screenings, this weekend is full of great films and events.

Friday . Saturday . Sunday

Newest Works by Amy Crehore!

Posted in Art with tags on April 17, 2009 by kozmicdogz
"Monkey Love Song" 16"x18" oil on linen by Amy Crehore.

"Monkey Love Song" 16"x18" oil on linen by Amy Crehore.

Amy has created a flickr slideshow of her recent work from her “Dreamgirls and Ukes” show.

The Art of Amy Crehore.

Stalin Is Thinking Of You!

Posted in Film, Richmond with tags , , , , on April 10, 2009 by kozmicdogz

As a part of this year’s James River Film Festival, there will be the United States premiere of “Stalin Thought of You” (2008, 58 minutes). Local film teacher and filmmaker Ted Salins, who will be introducing the film, sent the following via e-mail:


stalinSTALIN THOUGHT OF YOU” is a documentary about Boris Effimov, Russia’s most famous political cartoonist and propaganda animator. A close friend and early supporter of Trotsky, Boris is forced to work directly under Stalin. The film takes a suspenseful turn: the artist is compromised by the certainty that the dictator killed his brother. When Boris died at the age of 108 last September, the NY Times called him “the world’s oldest living Jew”.

Moscow based filmmaker Kevin McNeer (born and raised in Richmond) was one of Boris’ closest associates and the resulting interviews provide a living history narrative to the startling images. He will present the film and take questions.

Most astonishing is exhaustive research uncovering never seen before home movies of Boris with Stalin and Trotsky. Included are samples of Boris’ animated “agitprop” propaganda.

The James River Film Festival is screening the film at the Byrd Theater on Sunday April 19th at 5 PM for the first time in The United States.


jrff09posterThe Festival in its’ 16 year kicks off Easter Sunday with “Body of War” with director Ellen Spiro. “Body of War” will show a second time at the Bowtie Cinemas on the 19th. For the complete schedule and more information go to the JRFF site.

Buttercup Show Canceled!

Posted in Film, Music with tags , on April 7, 2009 by kozmicdogz

buttercI was so disappointed to find out that Buttercup is not playing this Thursday at Bottom’s Up Pizza. I need my Buttercup fix!

Oh well..I can try the Happy Lucky Combo at Otoole’s on Wednesday or Chez Roue at Cafe Diem on Thursday.

You can always peruse the music section of the Weekly Rant! A great place to see who is playing where.

After a short trip out of town I intend to spend the rest of next week attending the James River Film Festival! Hope to see you there.

It’s great that spring has finally come. It seems to take longer and longer every year, but always worth the wait, so get outside, fly a kite in your favorite park, and attend a live performance!

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