[Videolib] Film Nuts August 2003 column

Steve Fesenmaier (mystery12@charter.net)
Thu, 17 Jul 2003 20:09:03 -0400

Film Nuts – August 2003

Farewell to the DJ

A colleague of mine, Dave Lewis, was killed in July. He was 48. For
15 years I worked with Dave. He came to WVLC as the director of Radio
Reading Service for the Blind. People around the state got special
radios that let them hear readers present the local newspapers and
publications. He turned the program into one of the best in the country.
In 1998 the program was discontinued and he was transferred to
Communications where I sat next to him for a year, helping him write
weekly press releases for the agency. I discovered that he was one of
WV’s finest. He had a BA in communications from Marshall. He became one
of five trainers of medics in the entire US armed forces while he was in
the air force. He loved music, books, movies, and life. Lately he had
been helping me provide biographers with copies of lost WVLC videos on
Davis Grubb. When Kate Long used the actual voice of Grubb in her WVPBS
radio series, it came off of a tape Dave had made. He previewed all of
the new DVDs and videos I received, especially loving my own fav film of
last year, “Amores Perros.” He often told me that his fav film of all
time was “Places in the Heart.” He really loved Les Blank’s “Chulas
Fronteras,” about Tex-Mex music since his wife Laura was a Chicano from
L.A. Dave was an avid reader, both of books and the daily press, and
would have been a natural for a talk radio spot. He probably hosted one
sometime in his career. He had a second job around the state as a
deejay, working at the Greenbrier Resort for several years, doing the
honors at the Fifth Quarter for years. He had lived in L.A., traveled
the country, and played several instruments. He was without a doubt one
of the most alive person’s I have ever known. On the day he was murdered
I was going to loan him my new DVD of “Gangs of New York.” Dave – I will
miss you. I know that you have finally found your own place in the heart.

Burning Annie Premieres

Huntington-location film “Burnie Annie” had its world premiere in July
at the Dances with Wolves Film Festival. MSNBC film critic Glenn
Reynolds really liked the film. He wrote, “But it’s not a formula
movie.[previously talking about awful Hollywood films of the summer.]
Burning Annie isn’t your typical love story, but it rings true, and it
brings quite a few laughs along the way. It’s also obviously a labor of
love, not the labor of a committee working from focus groups and
templates based on last year’s hits. It’s a great film.” Gary Lundy, who
acted in “Donnie Darko,” one of the most unusual films of last year, is
the star. Check its website at: http://www.burningannie.com/.
The film is directed by Marshall grad Van Flesher. Check out WV’s first
indie feature, also made in Huntington, “Teenage Strangler”(1965), now
out on a DVD with “Teenage Gang Debs.” The DVD of “Strangler” looks
much better than the 1990 VHS.

Movies, Websites & West Virginia

Recently the producer for WV’s coming indie feature, “Burning Annie,”
contacted me via e-mail after he discovered one of my newest
filmographies posted on Applit – “Ten Best Indie Feature Films Made in
West Virginia.” He told me that he wanted “Annie” to make the list. (
See above.)Since then Judy Teaford at Mountain State University has
posted three more lists. One is “The Ten
Most Psychotronic Films Made in West Virginia.” Another is “More Than
Fifty Movie Places to Visit in West Virginia Before You Die” and finally
“Film Monsters and Heroes of WV” based on the AFI “Top 50 Heroes and
Villains.” To see a list of all of my lists go to:
http://www.ferrum.edu/applit/bibs/WVFilmIndex.htm.

Mountain Memories on WV PBS

Ray Schmitt’s excellent biography of WV-born outdoor photographer Jim
Clark, "Mountain Memories: An Appalachian Sense of Place will be
broadcast during the PBS pledge week drive on Thursday, August 7 at
10pm. Clark will have his second book of photography about the state,
also called “Mountain Memories: An Appalachian Sense of Place” published
by WVU Press in October 2003. The text and photography are by Jim Clark
with a foreword by Kathy Mattea. It is hardcover with over 250
full-color photographs. ISBN 0-937058-77-7. $55.00. You can purchase the
film at PatchWork Films for $24.95. 34 mins. 2002. The film had its
world premiere as part of the Flooded Out Film Festival sponsored by
OVEC and other WV environmental groups last fall. Hopefully WVPBS can
also show BJ Gudmundsson’s “Out of the Storm” and maybe even Bob Gates
“Building a Cello with Harold” someday.

Activist Filmmaker

B.J. Gudmundsson had to put down the camera and jump into reality in
June. She was told on a Wednesday that the US Park Service was going to
exterminate a flock of geese on Lake Sherwood in Greenbrier County.
Over the years there had been complaints about the geese defiling the
lake. Without anyone knowing it, they were going to take care of the
“problem.” BJ started notifying the press and various people and very
quickly she got a response. Senator Rockefeller’s office contacted her,
as did local media. The Charleston Daily Mail had a front-page story on
Friday night with a follow-up on Saturday. A local (Bluefield) TV
station went with her to the lake on Sunday to film the geese. Finally,
the US Park Service announced that they were NOT going to zap the poor
animals on Monday. After a meeting in Elkins, the kill was called off
for the year. The biologist, Robert Stovall, had alternate plans – like
moving the geese. BJ stated, “I'm all cheered up! There is a serious
obligation that goes along with having a democracy. When well-meaning
folks put their nose to the grindstone for the right reasons, things get
done. My faith is restored.” She added, “The Important thing is
opening up some dialogue between the government and the people on how we
conduct business and how we solve problems. I'd love to see some effort
come out of this toward educating the public on how to co-exist with the
wildlife.” So we know that it’s not just facts about UFOs that our
federal government is keeping to itself. BJ has been working on a new
documentary about one of the world’s earliest crusaders for the
environment – Cal Price, the editor of the Pocahontas Times in the first
half of the 20th century. I hope the US Park Service buys 100 copies to
give their staff some “sensitivity training.” The US Park Service went
to the lake a week after the controversy began, and killed all of the
geese. At the annual Pioneer Days celebration in Marlinton, there was a
sign around a plaster goose – “This is BJ – really pissed off!”

Dancingoutlaw.com

Apparently Jacob Young has regained the rights to his many wonderful
films and for the first time is selling them on a website –
dancingoutlaw.com. You can buy “Dancing Outlaw” for $29.95 or
$49.95 for both “Dancing” and “Dancing Outlaw Goes to Hollywood.”
You can also buy his other parts of the “Different Drummer” series –
“Pointman for God” that is about Bernard Coffindaffer, the man who put
up all of the triple crucifixes around the state (deceased); “Dr. No”
about William Pierce, recently deceased author of “The Turner Diaries”
(which was shown on CNN at one time); “The Amazing Dolores” about the
incredible singer Dolores Boyd who also sees angels (she saw a whole
battalion in Film Services once); “Fleabag” about Charleston street
prophet Frankie Veltri, also deceased; “Glitch in the System” about
Elmer Fike, deceased, famous for refusing to clean up his Kanawha Valley
chemical company; and “Hammer on the Slammer,” a portrait of one-time
Moundsville prison warden Donald Bordenkircher. These films have been
compared to Errol Morris’ productions – “Gates of Heaven,” “The Thin
Blue Line” and others. Most exciting of all is that for the first time
you can buy a copy of Young’s magnus opus – the 3 hour “Holy Cow,
Swami!” This film about the
murderous Hare Krishna leader, Swami Bhaktipada. You can also
buy a long out-of-print copy of his first two films, “Appalachian
Junkumentary” and “Saturday Night in Babylon” about the reggae scene in
Morgantown. He is also selling copies of his most recent creation - the
pilot for a series he tried to make while he was living in Nashville,
“American Breakdown,” about automobile breakdowns on American highways.
Mari-Lynn Evans, producer of the $2 million, 4-part series on
Appalachian, "The Appalachians," has hired Young to help with her
series. Young is a full-time employee of WVU and won an award for a
recent forest safety film.

Sean Rose

I got to watch some of the film entries into the WVIFF spring
competition. One film really impressed me – Sean Rose’s “A Play for
Yesterday.” Using animation, black and white visuals, and non-stop
words, he tells one of the most intense dream stories I have ever seen
on film. I have to congratulate him for presenting an overtly sexual
story that rings real and believable. Rose has a few images that are
very intense and lyrical. Great – grownups actually live in WV! You can
watch that film and other films of his including “Porn Carburettor
Queen” on his website – cycline3 –
http://www.cycline3.com/index2.html.

Daniel Johnston Documentary

A film about WV musician Daniel Johnston will be coming out in 2005.
The director of the well-known music documentary, “Half Japanese: The
Band that Would be King," is directing. Jad Fair of the group Half
Japanese is a longtime collaborator of Johnson. In June the film crew
was in Weston to film the state mental hospital where Johnson was
hospitalized twice in the late 1980s. He was born in 1961 in Sacramento,
Ca. but grew up in New Cumberland, WV. He has recorded 27 albums and his
drawings and paintings have been exhibited in LA, Zurich and Berlin.
Producer Rosenthal said that the scenes of Weston will be used as a
background all thru the film. “It will allow them to get inside the mind
of this artist.” Weston has also been used in a documentary about UFO
writer Gray Barker.

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