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Sunday, September 13, 2009


Paul Festa cuts himself shaving in his short film

Thursday my short film LET ME TELL YOU JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL screens at the Castro Theatre as part of the Fourth Annual Good Vibrations Independent Erotic Film Festival. Per request of a cast member, this will be the film's world premiere and swan song - a one night and one night only experience.

There's a $1500 audience-choice award so please forward this page far and wide, rest your voice on Thursday, bring your very loudest friends to the show, get them drunk, and make some noise for me. Here are the details and, below, my submission to Good Vibrations Magazine describing the film.

Good Vibrations Independent Erotic Film Festival
Hosted by Peaches Christ and Dr. Carol Queen
Castro Theatre
Thursday, Sept. 17
7pm pre-party in the Pleasure Lounge (theater's balcony lobby) - $10
8pm screening in the theater - $10

Paul Festa
(2003 / 2009)

Late in 2002, when John Cameron Mitchell solicited 10-minute audition videos for his “Sex Film Project” to create a nonpornographic, sexually explicit movie (the final product would be called Shortbus), I had no idea how to make a film. But I had an idea for an audition video, and I had iMovie on my computer, and I had a deadline, so poof! I became a filmmaker.

The idea was to tell the story of The Breeders, a memoir I’d just written about an affair I’d had with a married couple who resembled my parents. The narration was a mock radio interview with Terry Gross – whose questions were represented by text tiles that sounded eerily like her. Dirty Polaroids I’d taken with the couple provided visuals, along with old home videos, blow-up doll sex scenes, and other materials not usually associated with legitimate smut.

I didn’t quite get permission to use those Polaroids in the audition video, and when I saw the Good Vibes call for entries, I finally asked. The answer was no. So I sat down with the audition tape and boiled it down from its 10-minute narrative form into the 3-minute music video it is today. What I like about the new version is the way the story comes through in shards, in remnants – it’s a little bit like looking at some crumbled ancient statue or incompletely stripped Victorian and using surviving details to reconstruct the original. I also like that it’s both the first film I ever made and the most recent, and I’m thrilled for it to be my first work to screen at the Castro.

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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.