Volume 12, Issue 1 / January 2008

Off the Beaten Track

If there is a common thread among some of the essays in this issue, it is the proverbial notion of ‘off the beaten track.’ The films that are featured in the first three essays will not be playing at your local multiplex theater any time soon. The first piece is an in-depth interview with the camp/trash aesthetic/avant-garde/underground mavericks George and Mike Kuchar. The interview, by Montreal’s own resident maverick, filmmaker, musician, comic artist Rick Trembles, marks somewhat of a coup for Offscreen since the Kuchar Bros are not known for readily offering interviews. Although the Kuchar Bros have not made as much of a mark outside their inner circle as some of their more luminary contemporaries, such as Kenneth Anger, Curtis Harrington, and Andy Warhol, they were a major inspiration to many fledging ‘underground’ filmmakers (John Waters and David Lynch to name two) and have at least been back in some relative spotlight with several major retrospectives in recent years and a legitimate DVD release of a major work, Sins of the Fleshapoids (linked in interview). “Off the beaten track” often means being screened at art galleries, museums, or rep houses by savvy programmers, as was the case with the experimental films of British filmmaker/author Nicky Hamlyn and the Montreal-based experimental film Collective, Double Negative. Mike Rollo gives us a blow by blow account of the films screened that night. As low budget as the Kuchar Bros. films are, I would guess that the cost of the film stock and processing alone for one of their feature films was greater than the total budget for Dana Holyfield’s DIY (do it yourself), DV documentary, The Honey Island Swamp Monster. Holyfield’s film is a personal account of her late grandfather, Harlan E. Ford’s, notorious sightings of a local (New Orleans, Louisiana) ‘swamp monster.’ One does not have to be a fan of folklore and myth to find her film, warts and all, endearing and enjoyable. The final two pieces, festival reports, bring us back to more mainstream material, with Betty Kaklamanidou’s (by now yearly) account of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, and Linda Merelle’s report on the 8th Calgary International Film Festival. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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