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Floating Clouds and Field Sketches

Wednesday, Nov 3 1999
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Floating Clouds
From Canyon Cinema to Strand Releasing (now based in L.A.) to Roxie Releasing to the now-defunct Tara Releasing to Turbulent Arts, San Francisco has long been a breeding ground for fledgling distributors. Each of these companies found a niche -- experimental, gay, documentary, or foreign films -- typically ignored by the big boys. The latest boutique distributor to set up shop in San Francisco is TidePoint Pictures, whose specialty is importing Japanese films.

TidePoint's founder, Tetsuki Ijiahi, says San Francisco was the natural place to base his operation. "I set up a Bay Area-based company because the Bay Area is the key market for Asian films," Ijiahi explained. "Fully half of Tokyo Decadence's U.S. box office, for example, was from the Bay Area and the West Coast."

TidePoint's first release is the warm-hearted Japanese satire Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald, which played the S.F. International Film Festival in the spring. Following September bookings at the influential Film Forum in Manhattan and in L.A., the comedy -- about the egos and politics unleashed in the course of staging a live radio play -- opens locally at the Kabuki on Nov. 12.

Ijiahi has also acquired The Most Terrible Time in My Life, another festival favorite from Japan (albeit from a few years ago), which begins its U.S. theatrical run in March 2000 at the Castro with the director on hand. TidePoint is also in the process of acquiring several other Asian films for release next year, Ijiahi reports. Despite a minimal staff, he's got big plans: Ijiahi aspires to produce English-language films in the not-too-distant future.

Field Sketches
Christian Farrell, Jeff Warrin, and Keith Evans -- the talented men of silt -- have colluded and conspired for more than a decade on a slew of acclaimed experimental short films and performances. Nature is both theme and collaborator in their work: They like to bury celluloid in the ground to "interact" with the elements, then integrate the results into their films. Warrin still laughs about his undergrad film in which a fly inadvertently got caught in the frame. He didn't realize it until he saw the developed film, but liked the effect. Thinking the whole thing was intentional, his instructor remarked on "the poetic use of the fly."

Silt's performances embrace a similar spirit of openness and possibility. "Lbrtr: Interference and Periodic Objects," which simultaneously inaugurates the Second Wednesdays program at the Exploratorium and closes the Film Arts Festival on Nov. 10, blends film projection with shadow, light, and real-time video of the Bay Area trio. "We're pushing the tension between what is performed live and what is recorded," Warrin explains. "The images will be mixed and faded into a patchwork until the audience loses track of which image is coming from where. Some films can be likened to novels or short stories; silt makes poetry."

Michael Fox is the co-host of Independent View, which premieres Friday at 10 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.

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Michael Fox

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