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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Austin in grainy cell phone pictures

The Austin premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church Monday night, at the University Presbyterian Church, featured live organ accompaniment - Scott McNulty playing the title work and Paul Keith playing the Celestial Banquet. The show started off with movements from Messiaen's Glorified Bodies (a title even he made jokes about) and Nativity Suite (God Among Us). After the screening, I skipped my usual reading from OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever and went right to the Q&A, which was lively. Then I performed, with Chris Oelkers, the final movement, for violin and piano, from Quartet for the End of Time - it went over big. I remember thinking several weeks ago that I would have to become a better violinist to be able to play that piece. Messiaen, G-d love him, is a bitch to play.
In addition to being the Austin premiere, this was also the Presbyterian premiere. It was the sixth church screening after the two at St. Bartholomew's in New York, the SF premiere at Grace Cathedral, the Boston premiere at Marsh Chapel on the BU campus, and the Norway premiere at the Church of Our Lady in Trondheim (the Lutheran premiere). As I said at Grace Cathedral: when I made this film, with all its rough language and what is referred to by presenters as "adult themes," I did not expect it to play in church. But who can resist a nice, big organ?

I like Austin's politics - I saw one McCain/Palin bumper sticker, and dozens of Obama/Biden signs, stickers, buttons, etc. This was my favorite.

I have spent an unbelievable amount of time in the air the last several months - well, all year. I feel terribly guilty about this, for environmental reasons (there's pretty much nothing you can do that's worse for the climate, except set oil fields on fire), but I've grown to actually like the experience of enforced leisure minus Internet access. I would take this to Workaholics Anonymous, but first I need to deal with my political-news and election polling addiction.

I write from New Hampshire, where the movie screens in Concord on Friday, and where I'll do my first volunteering of the campaign season tomorrow, in Manchester. I'm also planning to canvas/volunteer when I'm in DC next week. Will they send me to the real Virginia or the other one? (Question for Sarah Palin or Maria Bachmann: as a San Francisco liberal atheist homosexual, am I a fake American, an anti-American American, or a fake anti-American American?) One of the things I enjoyed about today's flights was annotating all the route maps and vacation ads in the inflight magazine with "anti-America" (California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, the Northeast, Missouri, France, Canada, Mexico, South America, Africa, Asia, the Atlantic Ocean, etc) and "pro-America" (Arizona, Alaska, Wyoming). Hours of inflight entertainment.


FaerieTurtle said...

Excited to see a private "screening" of your piece this evening in Philly. Albo is hosting a pot-luck. Looking forward to seeing Lady B there, too, back from the Gay Men's Health Summit in Seattle.

Paul Festa said...

Wow, cool! I guess it's too late for me to send love to the assembled - but plz let me know how the party went!


About Me

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.