In high school, Michael Lucid was an artsy, friendly kid who floated around from one campus clique to the next. “I was more approachable and kids felt comfortable talking to me,” he says of his time at Santa Monica’s Crossroads School, where he graduated in 1996.
Because Lucid was likeable and trustworthy, his teenage peers granted him the kind of insider access into their lives that most filmmakers only dream about capturing on film. Filmmakers like Larry Clark (Kids, Wassup Rockers), Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen) and Penelope Spheeris (Decline of Western Civilization, Suburbia) all launched their careers by making films that depicted the harsh realities of American teenagers’ lives, but Lucid had an advantage over all of these filmmakers: he was himself a high schooler when he shot his gritty, painfully intimate documentary Dirty Girls, which has now become an instant cult sensation ever since it was uploaded to Youtube this month.
It was initially shot by a 17-year-old during the course of just two school days. Maybe you’ve seen the still frame of two messy-haired young girls being interviewed in a high school auditorium — an image that’s become ubiquitous after having been reblogged thousands of times by fans on Tumblr.
Lucid’s short documentary starts out with the following text: “In Spring of 1996, my senior year of high school, I documented a group of 8th grade girls who were notorious for their crass behavior and allegedly bad hygiene.…” The eighth grade girls he’s referring to are the film’s eponymous dirty girls, a clique of feminist riot grrrls led by sisters Amber and Harper, who became campus legends when they put on a punk rock show at the school’s beginning-of-year “alley party” and smeared lipstick all over their faces. Lucid remembers the performance being provocative and angry, so much so that it sparked an ongoing flurry of gossip — and the coining of the term “dirty girls” — that continued throughout the school year of ’96.
That Dirty Girls is Lucid’s biggest Internet success is ironic, considering his day job writing, performing and uploading web videos for World of Wonder, the production company behind shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and features like The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Party Monster. And, in an oddly fitting twist of fate, he’s returned to interviewing and reporting — but through his drag persona, Damiana Garcia, whom he refers to as “an intrepid lady reporter,” appearing in World of Wonder videos online.
Aubrey Beardsley was born on 21 August, 1872, in Brighton, England. The family, of middle and upper middle class origins, was often nearly destitute. He attended Bristol Grammar School for four years as a boarder, indulging in his talents by drawing caricatures of his teachers.
In February of 1893, Wilde’s scandalous play Salome was published in its original French version. An illustration inspired by the drama was admired by Wilde and Beardsley was commissioned to Illustrate the English edition (1894).
Not content with art alone, Beardsley expressed an intense desire to translate the French text after Wilde found the translation by his intimate, Lord Alfred Douglas, to be unsatisfactory. This assignment was the beginning of celebrity but also of an uneasy, and at times unpleasant, friendship with Wilde, which officially ended when Wilde was tried and convicted of sodomy in 1895.
Beardsley’s fame was established for all time when the first volume The Yellow Book appeared in April 1894. This famous quarterly of art and literature, for which Beardsley served as art editor and the American expatriate Henry Harland as literary editor, brought the artist’s work to a larger public.
It was Beardsley’s starling black-and-white drawings, titlepages, and covers which, combined with the writings of the so-called “decadents,” a unique format, and publisher John Lane’s remarkable marketing strategies, made the journal an overnight sensation. Although well received by much of the public, The Yellow Book was attacked by critics as indecent. So strong was the perceived link between Beardsley, Wilde, and The Yellow Book that Beardsley was dismissed in April 1895 from his post as art editor following Wilde’s arrest, even though Wilde had in fact never contributed to the magazine.
The film After Beardsley attempts to depict today’s world through Beardsley’s eyes and in his drawing style. Showing Beardsley’s better known drawings, some of which take on a different guise later in the film. Written and drawn by Chris James.
The Prom It’s a Pleasure is a well-produced color film that stars the 1961 Coca-Cola Junior Miss Pageant winner as the guide to a well-mannered prom night.
From the phone call asking Junior Miss for the date, to the drop-off at the end of the night, this film details prom etiquette for the curious and uncouth teenager. It also explains that the boy should call his date’s mother before the dance to find out the color of her dress so he can match the corsage to it.
Wholesome sixties movies often dealt with American morals, and this prom night film is a classic example. At the high school dance itself, the film shows how to dance, how to ask someone to dance, ways to ask someone to dance, how to fill out a dance card, and how to navigate the refreshments, which consisted mostly of Coca-Cola, not surprisingly. In addition to all the prom do’s and don’ts etiquette tips, this film features great footage of a typical sixties prom.
Home video changed the way the world consumed films. The cultural and historical impact of the VHS tape was enormous. Rewind This! is a documentary that traces the ripples of that impact by examining the myriad aspects of art,technology, and societal perceptions that were altered by the creation of videotape.
The film is the first feature length effort from Austin, TX based IPF Productions, with shooting locations all over North America and abroad, including a two week stint in Japan. The team has spoken to filmmakers, studios, archivists, rental chain operators, personal collectors and media experts to create an overview of the video era that is both informative and celebratory. The film will premiere at SXSW Film Festival in Austin March 2013.
Dr. Cornel West is a prominent and provocative intellectual. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. In this interview, Dr. West argues that the blues is not so much about triumph as it is about resistance and survival. He educates the viewer on the pain that became Blind Willie Johnson’s blues. West claims that at the center of the blues is an individual yearning to find one’s voice.
Blind Willie Johnson. Old blues singers led the wildest lives. He was blinded by his mom throwing lye in his face as a punishment, dirt poor since birth, he lived in the burned remains of his family home, preached and played on street corners during the day, and no one is sure where he is exactly buried.
An interview with filmmaker, poet, artist and film critic Jonas Mekas, renowned co-founder of Anthology Film Archives. In his films, he strives to capture the essence of fleeting, ordinary moments — the poetry of everyday life. Now 90, he still films every day, and he never throws anything away. Over time, he has amassed an extensive archive of both film and video, which he edits into lyrical, diaristic films and also re-prints as photographic artworks. In this interview, he explains why and how he films, and shows us around his home and workspace.
Released alongside major presentations of his work at the Serpentine Gallery, BFI Southbank and Centre Pompidou, this exclusive interview with Jonas Mekas was shot in October 2012 in the Brooklyn loft where he lives, works and stores reels 60 years worth of film and video footage.
In the early hours of 2 November 1975, the body of Pier Paolo Pasolini – writer, poet, film director and one of Italy’s leading intellectuals – was found on wasteland in Ostia, just outside Rome. Several hours later, Pino “The Frog” Pelosi, a 17-year-old male prostitute, was arrested speeding along the Ostia seafront in Pasolini’s Alfa Romeo. Pelosi was accused of Pasolini’s brutal murder. It was alleged that Pasolini had picked up Pelosi outside Termini train station, taken him to a pizzeria and then driven to Ostia for sex. Pelosi himself claimed that he had killed Pasolini in self-defence after the latter had attempted to sodomise him with a wooden stick, but after a lengthy trial he was found guilty in 1976 and sentenced to nine years in jail.
On the night of his murder, Pasolini had dined with Ninetto Davoli and his family at the Pommidoro restaurant in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. Davoli had come from a poor Calabrian family and been discovered by Pasolini in the Rome slums in the early 1960s. He became Pasolini’s main actor, for a time his lover and subsequently one of his closest friends. It was Davoli who had to identify Pasolini’s corpse the following day.
Many people were unhappy with the murder verdict. The actress Laura Betti, who had appeared in many of Pasolini’s films, organised a campaign for an inquiry into his death. She argued that it had a deeper political significance. After all, Pasolini had made many enemies. In the weeks leading up to his murder he had condemned Italy’s political class for its corruption, for neo-fascist conspiracy and for collusion with the Mafia. In articles for Corriere della Sera he had called for Italy’s political class to be put on trial.
Other friends and supporters of Pasolini, like the film director Bernardo Bertolucci, used the absence of blood on Pelosi’s clothes and the nature of the marks on Pasolini’s body to cast doubt on the notion that Pelosi alone could have committed the murder. Bertolucci, who worked as an assistant on Pasolini’s first film Accattone, spoke of the way Pasolini’s life and public image had been “savaged” in the period leading up to his murder. Pasolini’s last film Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodom depicted Mussolini’s fascists as sodomites, and he had received death threats from active neo-fascist groups.
“A dark coloured car came out of nowhere… and a motorcycle. All in all 5 people arrived… I saw them drag Pasolini out of the car and they were beating and kicking him, they really beat him up. They were shouting: “Dirty communist, queer, swine”. I was afraid. I went back when it was all over… To kill someone in this manner you must either be insane or be driven by some really strong force: now, given that these killers have managed to evade the law for more than thirty years, they certainly can’t be insane. So they must have had a very good reason for doing what they did. And no one has ever laid a hand on them. At the end of this incredible episode, I was the only one that landed up paying the price, and I was only 17 years old at the time. I was used…” Giuseppe Pelosi, in an interview on 12 September 2008
Video directed by Peter Christopherson in 2008 and included as extra feature in the BFI’s dvd/blu-ray edition of “Salò Or The 120 Days Of Sodom”, a 1975 film by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The song by Coil, mainly Peter Christopherson and John Balance, is taken from the 1986 album “Horse Rotorvator”.
This clip is a very early, full-color Kodachrome film made by Kodak in 1922 to test new film stock and color processing. It is a lovely little four-and-a-half minutes of pretty actresses gesturing for the camera. The color and lighting are exquisite—all warm reds with flattering highlights—making it a purely enjoyable thing to watch.
In 1922, for all its technical achievements, Kodak hadn’t yet done away with the flicker that gave movies one of their earliest and most enduring nicknames: the “flicks.” The flicker resulted from variations in film speed produced by the slow, hand-cranked cameras of the time and by variations in the density of the film itself.
Even more interesting to a modern viewer are the women’s gestures. They act out fluttery, innocent modesty; warm maternal love; and in the longest sequence, sexy, puckered-lip vamping. Their open expressions of feeling and the particular way they move their hands and tilt their heads, even more than the fashions of their clothes and makeup, immediately mark them as women of the interwar period. Recently a Russian film scholar, Oksana Bulgakowa, has shown how various feelings and meanings were coded in the gestures of early film actors. Some of these are so unfamiliar now, they seem like a foreign language.
Today, when we watch a TV show or a movie, we see a wide range of acting styles and behaviors. A hundred years from now, which ones will be seen as defining our age?
The Keith Haring Foundation has scanned Keith’s journals from 1971 to 1989, some of which are featured in Keith Haring: 1978–1982. A page will be posted each day for the duration of the show, which will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum from March 16 through July 8, 2012. The exhibition is the first large-scale presentation to explore the early works of one of the best-known American artists of the twentieth century.