Indie Watch 


The Back Alley Film Festival returns to Tucson on Saturday, May 28. The much-loved event, curated by ex-Tucsonans Josh Dragotta and Erik Hulten, has gone from bi-annual to annual, making this something like the seventh festival in four years. Held under the stars in the parking lot behind Bison Witches (326 N. Fourth Ave.), this year's lineup features 16 independent short films from three countries and several states. Local films screening include the world debut of Timothy Gassen's The Bombardier, a 10-minute horror-mystery shot in a World War II B-17 bomber. Local Bill Kersey will also be screening work (see below). This fine event is free and starts at 8 p.m. Check www.backalleyfilmfestival.com for more info.


Chicago based filmmakers and curators Tom Comerford and Bill Brown bring their program "Lo Fi Landscapes: Pictures From the New World" to the Screening Room on Friday, June 3. This traveling program features three 16mm and 8mm films: Mountain State, Land Marked/Marquette and Chicago Detroit Split. The filmmakers describe the evening as "a new program of films about space of history and the history of spaces. These films explore how historical text becomes physical texture, and how filmmaking itself is memory recovered from landscape's amnesia." The Screening Room is at 127 E. Congress St., and showtime is 8 p.m.


Legendary director Monte Hellman will be at the Loft on Saturday, June 18, to present the re-release of his cult classic Two-Lane Blacktop. Fresh from a screening at the Cannes Film Festival, Hellman will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions. Originally released in 1971, Two-Lane Blacktop is a low-key, laconic road-trip starring musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson (from the Beach Boys) as a pair of drag-racing drifters who challenge Warren Oates and his GTO to a cross country road race. Two-Lane Blacktop is a free-flowing American classic, and this is a great opportunity to catch it on the big screen. Showtime is 8 p.m.


Tucson's own progressive/leftist/politically active Pan Left Productions is having a fundraiser at the Rasquacho Art Gallery, featuring an exclusive exhibition of Rasquacho art by Pancho Medina. The artist and Pan Left producers and friends will be on hand to meet and greet. Snacks and spirits will be served, and they'll show music and videos by Pan Left at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 4 at Rasquacho Gallery, 1510 S. Chrysler Ave. Pan Left has also declared June "Do It Yourself TV Month." They are offering a selection of socially active Pan Left videos and DVDs to beat the heat and pick up the slack during the slow summer corporate TV season. Call 792-9171 or check panleft@panleft.org for more details on the fundraiser and Pan Left materials.


Bob Burton, a junior at Catalina Foothills High School, recently won a couple of awards for his documentary film Jack Tunks-The Real Deal. He won the Zaki Award for "best overall skills as an emerging filmmaker" at the upcoming Fifth Annual Zaki Gordon Institute Shorts Film Festival, held Memorial Day weekend in Sedona. His film also won the Rocky Mountain Regional National Student Television Award for Excellence and will now go on to compete nationally. For more information on the Zaki Gordon festival, visit www.zaki.yc.edu or call (928) 649-4265.


Tucson filmmaker Bill Kersey is a busy man these days. His short film '87 Topaz recently won the Best of Arizona award at Arizona International Film Festival and is set to play the Winnipeg International Film Festival in June. '87 Topaz has also screened at seven other festivals and will be seen at the Back Alley Festival this Saturday. Kersey and fellow filmmaker Edward Kim (who both graduated from the UA's BFA program this month) have co-directed another short film, Garpenfargle (2004), which seems to have some sturdy legs under it. Garpenfargle is screening at five festivals in May alone, including the Telluride Mountainfilm festival, the Maui Film Festival and the Short Shorts Expo in Aichi, Japan. It has also screened at more than 20 other festivals nationwide. In addition, Garpenfargle just won the first Local Filmmaker Contest at the Loft, held April 29. Finally, one of Kersey's previous films, Solace, will be featured KUAT TV's Arizona Illustrated show sometime in June. Check www.raintownpictures.com for information on these and other films that Kersey has made.


Speaking of the contest, the Loft's first monthly Local Filmmaker Contest was a success, with something like 112 people showing up last month. Twenty-two films were submitted, but time allowed only 13 of them to be screened, with Bill Kersey's previously mentioned Garpenfargle the winner. Anyone interested in submitting for the next contest on Friday, May 27, can bring a film (10 minutes or less, on DVD, mini DV tape or VHS) by the Loft during the day or the evening of the contest and take a chance of getting it in on a first-come, first-served basis. Be aware that the contest time is being moved up to 9 p.m. Check www.theloftcinema.com for more details, as well as a schedule of all other films and events at The Loft. And don't forget the Late Night Films that the Loft is screening at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The June lineup includes Reservoir Dogs, Dead Alive, This Is Spinal Tap and Shaun of the Dead.


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