September 17, 2001
Documentary Film & Video Festival starts Sept. 25
By Jennifer McNulty
A provocative documentary about efforts to unionize dancers at a San Francisco strip
club is among the films being shown at the third annual Santa Cruz Documentary Film
& Video Festival, which takes place September 25-28.
All screenings start at 7 p.m. at the Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center
Street, in Santa Cruz. Admission is $3, and advance tickets will be available at
the Civic Auditorium. The festival is cosponsored by the UC Santa Cruz Anthropology
Department, the UCSC Division of Social Sciences, KUSP Radio, and Sasquatch Computer.
|'The Laughing Club of India' tells of converts who embrace the healing powers
Live Nude Girls Unite! is a first-person documentary by Julia Query, a
lesbian stand-up comedian and peep-show stripper who documents her efforts to organize
the only union of "exotic dancers" in the United States.
The 70-minute film weaves together backstage and dancing footage with labor organizing,
street protests, stand-up comedy, and comic-book style animation. Query, the daughter
of a '70s feminist activist, also captures the painful confrontations she has with
her mother over her work. "The film focuses on conflict between different generations
of feminists," said festival organizer Hugh Raffles, an assistant professor
of anthropology at UCSC. "Query's mother has dedicated her life to fighting
sexual exploitation, while Query herself sees stripping as a radical political act."
Live Nude Girls Unite! is not the only film that addresses adult themes.
India Cabaret is a classic documentary about sex workers in a very different
cultural context. It was made in 1985 by Mira Nair, who has gone on to direct such
feature films as Mississippi Masala, Salaam Bombay, and the recent
Kama Sutra. On a lighter note, Nair's film The Laughing Club of India
shares the enthusiasm of converts who believe in the healing powers of laughter.
The most zany and outrageous film in the lineup, according to Raffles, is The
Great Mojado Invasion (The Second US-Mexico War), a 26-minute fantasy in which
Mexican bandits conquer the United States and reverse the fortunes of Anglos and
Mexicans. "It's wild, bawdy, maybe shocking to some people, but definitely funny,"
said Raffles. The complete festival schedule follows. Please note: Because of content,
some festival films may be unsuitable for underage children.
SANTA CRUZ DOCUMENTARY FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL 2001
Including selections from the Margaret Mead Traveling Film & Video Festival
Tuesday, September 25: SEX/WORK
India Cabaret (dir. Mira Nair. 1985. 59 mins. India)
Filmmaker Mira Nair looks beyond the traditional Indian ideal of woman as "virtuous
virgin," faithful to her husband and bound to his home. This classic documentary
from 1985 focuses on women who have chosen a very different way of life, that of
the cabaret stripper, and records their own ideas about women's roles in Indian society.
In candid interviews, the women challenge standard notions of respectability and
reveal the hypocrisy of men who enjoy the services of strip dancers at night and
curse them the next day.
Live Nude Girls Unite! (dir. Julia Query and Vicky Funari. 2000. 70
mins. United States.)
This first-person documentary follows Julia Query on her raucous journey to help
organize the only union of "exotic dancers" in the United States. Shot
in a variety of formats.
Wednesday, September 26: BRASIL! BRASIL!
Santo Forte (dir. Eduardo Coutinho. 1999. 80 mins. Brazil)
This award-winning film is set in the "favelas" of Rio de Janeiro, where
Catholicism mingles with spiritist beliefs from native and African religious traditions
to form hybrid religious practices that combine Christ, the Pope, and Catholic saints
with ancestral spirits. Spiritist Catholics, as well as Protestants who have rejected
what they believe to be negative and demonic elements of Catholicism, speak frankly
and directly about their beliefs.
Saudade do Futuro (dir. César Paes. 2000. 94 mins. Brazil/France)
São Paulo, the world's fifth-largest city, is a magnet for thousands of Brazilians
drawn from the country's drought-stricken Northeast. Saudade do Futuro records
the sights and sounds of the many extraordinary "Nordestino" street musicians
who tell the stories of their lives through their music and lyrics with humor, drama,
and passion. The film is kaleidoscopic in form, swooping down into one neighborhood
after another, enjoying the infectious rhythms and dazzling ingenuity of these street
Thursday, September 27: COMING TO TERMS
Seven Hours to Burn (dir. Shanti Thakur. 1999. 9 mins. India/Denmark/United
In this beautifully crafted work, the filmmaker explores her mixed Indian and European
heritage through a moving narrative that begins with the experiences of her mother
and father as adolescents in two war-torn countries. While Thakur's mother lives
under the Nazis in Denmark during World War II, her father is confronted with the
religious riots that accompanied Indian independence. Thakur follows their lives
through a mixture of archival footage, body imagery, and her own narrative to present
a story of two refugees from intolerance.
Liebe Perla (dir. Shahar Rozen. 1999. 53 minutes. Israel/Germany)
During the Nazi regime, Dr. Josef Mengele conducted "scientific" experiments
on and shot "research" footage of a Jewish family of dwarfs. Fifty years
later, Hannelore, a short-statured woman born in postwar Germany, set out on a quest
to locate the films. During the process, she befriended the only surviving family
member, Perla, an actress now living in Israel. This astounding, intimate film tells
us as much about the present moment as it does about the fate of disabled people
in Nazi Germany.
Sadness (dir. Tony Ayres. 2000. 52 mins. Australia)
William Yang, an Australian of Chinese descent, presents a stunning multimedia performance-based
monologue about the experience of loss within his family and among the Australian
gay community. Combining his work as a photographer with playful cinematic reenactments,
he revives memory with harrowing intensity and brings back the dead, at least momentarily.
Friday, September 28: LAUGHING MATTERS
The Laughing Club of India (dir. Mira Nair. 1999. 35 mins. India)
Join the enthusiastic converts to a new alternative health trend that recognizes
and embraces the healing powers of laughter. People from all walks of life are engaging
in spontaneous, uninhibited laughter as a means of reducing stress and warding off
depression. While the movement's founders claim that their practices derive from
the venerable art of yoga, India's laughing clubs reflect an unmistakably contemporary
need to bond with one's fellows in an otherwise impersonal society.
The Great Mojado Invasion (The Second US-Mexico War)
(dir. Gustavo Vasquez and Guillermo Gomez-Peña. 1999. 26 mins. United States)
This iconoclastic "mockumentary" creates an uproarious historical reversal
by setting the stage for an invasion of the United States by Mexico. Using a vast
number of "donated" Hollywood film clips, Vasquez and Gomez-Peña
fantasize dastardly mustachioed bandits conquering the United States and imposing
their own language and culture on Anglo-Americans.
On and Off the Res' w/ Charlie Hill (dir. Sandy Osawa. 2000. 57 mins.
This film is a portrait of Charlie Hill, North America's foremost Native American
comedian. Since his rise to prominence in the 1970s, Hill, an Oneida from Wisconsin,
has used his piercing satirical humor to debunk stereotypes of Native Americans and
offer wry and insightful commentary on America's history of racism and oppression
of minorities. Drawing on a range of influences, from Sioux author and scholar Vine
Deloria Jr. to Will Rogers and Richard Pryor, Hill's art is a testament to the power
of humor to inspire thought as well as laughter.