THE sixth edition of the Silver Lake Film Festival begins tonight with “Edmond,” David Mamet’s adaptation of his play, directed by Stuart Gordon and starring William H. Macy. Running through March 31, the festival will show a wide variety of independent features and shorts, with sidebars devoted to international films and political documentaries.
“ReelPolitik: A Program of Politically Active Films,” sponsored by the new National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo, kicks off with “Giuliani Time,” Kevin Keating’s blistering portrait of the former New York mayor. The film details the criminal record of Rudy Giuliani’s father, the alleged ties of family members to organized crime and Giuliani’s high-profile career in the Department of Justice during the Reagan administration.
The focus of the film, though, is on Giuliani’s uncompromising tenure as Gotham’s mayor from 1993 to 2001. Supporters and detractors of Giuliani, including Donald Trump and Ed Koch, passionately attest to his influence on the city. Keating persuasively postulates that the potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate’s reputation undeservedly benefited from the attention he received after the Sept. 11 attacks, coming at what otherwise would have been the nadir of his political career.
Part of the New Croatian Films program, Tomislav Radic’s “What Iva Recorded on October 21, 2003" is a mock cinema verite detailing a tumultuous evening in the life of a Zagreb family. It is 15-year-old Iva’s (Masha Mati-Prodan) birthday, and her stepfather Bozo (Ivo Gregurevic) has given her a video camera with which she tenaciously records events.
Bozo bullies Iva’s mom Zeljka (Anja Sovagovic-Despot) into cooking a lavish dinner and cajoles Uncle Darko (Boris Svrtan) into calling an affectionate acquaintance (Barbara Prpic) in anticipation of the arrival of a German businessman (Karl Menrad) with whom he intends to seal to a deal. What at first seems like a technical gimmick effectively captures the dissolution of the evening through the fixed, insightful perspective of Iva.
Closer to home, Jane Cantillon’s poignant “The Other Side: Back in the Gay” looks at a Silver Lake piano bar that has existed under a variety of names since the 1960s. The patrons of the Other Side, particularly men in their 60s, 70s and 80s, recall the social codes and police raids of pre-AIDS gay life in Los Angeles.
The funny, sweet and sometimes sad recollections are intensely personal. Photos of the men when they were young, along with stock period footage and music, evocatively render a slice of L.A. history. Cantillon and her subjects emphasize the importance of the bar as a gathering place and its appeal to a younger crowd drawn to the nostalgia of show tunes and standards.
A Rocky Mountain spin on the Frankenstein legend is unleashed in Philip Chidel’s clever “Subject Two.” Christian Oliver stars as a harried medical student lured to a remote cabin, ostensibly to be a doctor’s assistant, in this thinking-person’s horror film. Oliver and co-star Dean Stapleton wage an existentialist battle of life, death and resurrection on the snowy peaks above Aspen, Colo.
Gregory Hatanaka’s “Mad Cowgirl” is a wild genre mash-up with an experimental mind-set that could drive audiences to adopt a vegan diet. Sarah Lassez plays a terminally ill meat inspector who goes on a frenzied spree of sex, violence and self-determination as she adopts a ‘70s martial artist persona and attempts to slay the Ten Tigers From Kwangtung.
James Van Over plays Matthew, an artist who believes he has a sex disorder, in Neil Matsumoto’s elusive drama “Fixed.” Matthew drops out of a sexual recovery group, turns to pharmaceuticals and begins a strained, tentative relationship with a successful video artist (Tina Holmes of “Six Feet Under”). His anxieties drive his work, but he finally turns to an extreme resolution to cure his perceived ills.
Also, Friday through Sunday, the festival will present Fusion Asian Cinema in Little Tokyo, with a different theme each day. First up is a retrospective of the work of Japanese horror director Nobuo Nakagawa, followed by Pan-Asian cult films and concluding with a day devoted to documentaries and special projects.
More than Magoo
One of the prime influences on mid-20th century animation, UPA eschewed the popular anthropomorphic tales then fashionable to create jazzy, satirical shorts with human characters and hip adult themes. Beginning with Army and Navy training films during World War II and commissioned works, UPA branched out into theatrical films released through Columbia Pictures and eventually onto television on CBS. The animation’s vivid modern graphics earned Academy Awards and introduced such popular characters as Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing.
On Sunday, the American Cinematheque hosts the tribute “UPA: Magoo, McBoing & Modern Art,” which features three hours of animation, panels with animators and historians, plus a preview of an upcoming documentary on the group, “The Boing That Shook the World.” Among the films screening are Bobe Cannon’s Oscar winner “Gerald McBoing-Boing” (1950), John Hubley’s “Rooty Toot Toot” (1951) and, in CinemaScope, Oscar winner “When Magoo Flew” (1954), directed by Pete Burness.
Silver Lake Film Festival
* “Edmond”: 7:30 tonight (ArcLight)
* “Fusion Asian Cinema”: 2:55-10 p.m. Friday (Aratani); 1-11 p.m. Saturday (Aratani); 12:15-9:55 p.m. Sunday (NCPD)
* “Fixed”: 5:30 p.m. Friday; 10 p.m. Tuesday (ArcLight)
* “Giuliani Time”: 7 p.m. Friday (NCPD); 8 p.m. March 30 (ArcLight)
* “The Other Side: Back in the Gay”: 7:15 p.m. Friday; 10:30 p.m. Monday (ArcLight)
* “Mad Cowgirl”: 8 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m. Monday (ArcLight)
* “What Iva Recorded on October 21, 2003": 9:30 p.m. Friday (ArcLight)
* “Subject Two”: 10:15 p.m.
Saturday; 8 p.m. Tuesday (ArcLight)
Where: ArcLight Cinemas, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 111 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; JACCC/Aratani Japan America Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo
* “UPA: Magoo, McBoing & Modern Art”: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Info: (323) 466-FILM, www.egyptiantheatre.com