Regionalism might be the salvation of American cinema. Does American cinema need saving? Well, have you seen Stick It? For something a little more special, and quite literally closer to home, try the two-day Pacific Edge Film Festival, which gets underway 4 p.m. Friday at Davis’ Mondavi Center. This fest’s fare is so regionally specific that it all adds up to something both illuminating and deeply reassuring: a sense of place.
If it seems quaint to think that film helps codify a community’s culture, look at Melinda Stone’s A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005, which rhymes footage from the back of a 1905 San Francisco trolley car with the filmmaker’s own visual record from a century later. Or Justin Bookey’s Jump: A Feature Frogumentary (pictured), which looks closely at the one thing everybody knows about Calaveras County, thanks to Mark Twain.
UC Davis professor Scott Simmon, the author of The Invention of the Western Film, presents a lively short program of rare vintage silents, including D.W. Griffith’s Ramona, from 1910. Other fare includes a Joyce Carol Oates adaptation and a tale of a young Mexican crossing the border to find his father.
Be sure and stay for Saturday’s closing act: Montreal animator/filmmaker Pierre Hébert and San Francisco musician Bob Ostertag’s award-winning collaboration, Living Cinema—an astounding, improvised, audiovisual trip. It’s the epitome of place-specific moviemaking; each performance involves a one-of-a-kind movie created right before your eyes and ears, and when it’s over, you’ll be glad to have been there. Events cost $20 per day ($10, students/children), but a festival pass—$30 for adults, $15 for students/children—covers the whole shebang. Visit www.mondaviarts.org or call (530) 754-2787 for more information.