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Friday, December 23, 2011

All that Glitter gold is!

Congratulations to everyone who worked on The Glitter Emergency - our silent-film comedy about the travails and triumph of Peggy the Peg-leg Ballerina won "Best California Short" at the California Film Awards. Both DP Ben Estabrook and I got double-love from the CFA, which named Austin Forbord's Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco "Best California Film."

In other Stage Left news, the film will have its official San Francisco premiere at the Geary Theater in conjunction with American Conservatory Theater's production of Lorenzo Pisoni's "Humor Abuse" (from what I gather, it's Mommie Dearest meets The Pickle Family Circus) on Sunday, January 29th, at 6:30 p.m. FREE ADMISSION - reserve tickets here.

Glitter has two premieres coming up - the Canadian premiere at the 13th annual Reelout Queer Film + Video Festival, February 5th, in Kingston, ON; and the southwest premiere at Tucson's Out in the Desert festival, Sunday, February 19, at 12:40 p.m., 127 E. Congress. I'll accompany the film live at both screenings. (Glitter screenings and awards always updated here.)

Save this date in pencil - but it looks like Glitter will have one last San Francisco screening before I decamp for Berlin. On Thursday, March 1, Kunst-Stoff has scheduled an encore of last Friday's sneak preview of my film in progress Tie It Into My Hand, along with Glitter accompanied live and more music and film to be announced.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Make it a triple

Getting fresh press coverage for a no-budget, self-distributed film you made nearly six years ago isn't just lucky, it's weird. Having your two other films - one you made, another which you served as producer, editor, writer and archivist - also reviewed in the same week is downright spooky.

Having Variety reassign your sex is cool!

Full review here. All my CV needs to know: "Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record." 

Full review here. All my press packet needs to know: "Fascinating...unique...Festa is investigating a key question about musical aesthetics, and he has invented a methodology to study it which provides very illuminating results. His brilliant use of editing, and his skill as an interviewer, allow the viewer to have many insights into the varieties of musical experience." (I love the sly reference to William James, underscoring one of the film's core preoccupations: music's kinship with divinity.)

Full review here. All Doris Duke needs to know: "Enormous visual and musical inventiveness and strong performances…entertaining, fun, and full of pleasure and joy….(Paul Festa) gives a bravura performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Black Rock City 3 of 3: Photo essay in four parts

Photo essay Part 1: 
After Exodus: Open playa

Paul Festa's Archive Fever - After Exodus - Open playa

Photo essay Part 2
After Exodus: And I feel fine

Photo essay, Part 3
After Exodus: The last thing you want to see under these particular circumstances

A gibbous moon rises as a skull, churning clouds first a pair of flying beasts beneath it, then its wings, then these traces of celestial exhaust. How can you not take pleasure in the triumphalism radiating from those dry-sea eye sockets to this one? The desert can kill or kiss. This kiss bestows a permanent reorganization of anxiety. The ultimate antagonist: the great artist: the ally. Sphinxes stir within the mountains, and the skull becomes enfleshed, a beautiful cartoon with square jaw, boxy goggles - Max Headroom's hot younger brother - laughing at all the beauty. He does what the skull never did, never does - he looks me right in the eye. He is laughing his head off!

Photo essay, Part 4
MOOP Squad

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad: Randy

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad: Ultra

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad: Brady

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad

Paul Festa's Archive Fever: Burning Man Photo Essay, Part 4: MOOP Squad

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Black Rock City 2 - my burn in captions

The week prior to Burning Man was also the week James and I moved out of the apartment at 22nd Street. Both the move and the Bar Mist Ya soundtrack required that I get a handle on a CD collection that saw its last reorganization in 1996, when I made the switch from jewel boxes to binders. This year's reorg took three days. 

The Scribble Death Watch waited in vain for me to Medevacked out of the desert in a hail of vomit for the reason that heat and dehydration, contrary to widespread expert opinion, played no role in my illness of the prior three visits to Black Rock City in the late 90s. The culprit was the dust, a Pleistocene Era concentration of alkali. This year the weather was perfect and the dust stayed mostly on the ground where it belongs. When it did come up I wore either this rhinestone-studded gas mask...

...or this much more stylish and comfortable dust mask that mysteriously turned up in my underwear drawer. 

Despite being civilization's most logically laid out metropolis, Black Rock City can still be a challenge to navigate: people steal the damn street signs (hey DPW - how about holograms next year?). Comfort & Joy's Day-Glo flags, the work of Brian "Chickpea" Busta, provided one of the best landmarks on the playa.

I suppose it's a cliché to say this about anything found in the desert, but The Temple was so beautiful and grand that it suggested a mirage every time it came into view. The burning of it on Sunday night in virtual silence, 36 hours since I'd last slept, was cathartic in the extreme - I wept so hard I nearly put out the fire.

Making the desert bloom.

Ridiculously fun dance party on this art car.

Bruce Beaudette, Comfort & Joy resident shrinking violet, who reminds me regularly that he slept through Apparition of the Eternal Church.

I got to Distrikt early to get the Bar Mist Ya a good parking place.

While I was busy sunning my feet, two burly middle-aged guys scurried up to the top balcony, leaned over the side, and corrected the spelling of the camp. Off they ran, giggling like schoolgirls. It was a couple of hours before the K was restored.

Favorite activity at Distrikt was bringing the Bar Mist Ya's 3-gallon industrial pesticide applicator up onstage and showering the noonday ravers with a light vanilla-scented mist - until I was schooled by the chick with the powerhose.

As a friend tells his impressionable nieces and nephews: Fashion first, safety second.

Ami Student and his unstoppable charm offensive.

Last set 2011, DJ Kramer

Night falls on 700 of the happiest people on earth. In about 20 minutes it will be 699 - I'm on the verge of discovering my car keys have vanished.

Don't miss the first installment of the 2011 Burning Man archive, How to Build a Bar Mist Ya. Tune in tomorrow for Part 3.

About Me

My photo

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 Récollets.