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Dark Passage 

In the indie film Exploding Oedipus, a young man tries to escape from life by moving to an S.F. transient hotel.

Wednesday, Jun 20 2001
Dark Passage Derailed by his father's near-fatal heart attack, a young man checks out of his mundane life and into a downtown transient hotel, submerging himself in drugs, bisexual liaisons, and old 8mm home movies. Sounds like an S.F. story to me, but Marc Lafia's screenplay for Exploding Oedipus was originally set in his hometown of L.A. After Lafia moved north five years ago and his 35mm debut feature began to come together, he reimagined the script from a San Francisco POV. Shooting on location from the Sutro Baths to the Tenderloin and mixing nonactors with actors, Lafia has added a page to the S.F. movie album of wrenching personal transformations (Vertigo, Fearless, The Game).

Bruce Ramsay (Alive) stars as the troubled hero, constructing a new self-portrait by looking for clues in his 8mm childhood. "Like in Antonioni's Blowup he discovers a piece of footage -- an event with his mother -- he has to puzzle through," Lafia explained via cell phone, minutes before last week's world premiere of Exploding Oedipus at the Seattle International Film Festival. "We are always pleased to see ourselves in the image," he continues, invoking Jean-Luc Godard's view of cinema as an image of the world, "but how we recognize and misrecognize ourselves [dictates how we] position ourselves in our own narrative."

In a supporting role, Juliana Hatfield of the Blake Babies shot for one day along 16th Street in the Mission. How was she? "She looked good in that lamb's wool coat we gave her," Lafia said dryly. "She went off and kept it." No local screenings are currently scheduled for Exploding Oedipus, but Lafia is sure that will change. "People in San Francisco are very generous and inventive, and they want to take part."

Office Space Did you see your dream job on That's where the S.F. International Film Festival posted an ad for senior director of programming. The fest also put a notice in Variety, of course, and mass e-mailed its long list of film festival programmers around the globe. "Senior director of programming" is a notch down from "artistic director," the title Peter Scarlet held for most of his 19 years at the helm, until he departed in May to run Paris' Cinematheque Français. "That title was custom-made for Peter," explains SFIFF Director of Publicity Hilary Hart.

Executive Director Roxanne Messina Captor aims to have the post filled by the end of July, and her choice will reveal much about the future direction of the festival. Scarlet lobbied for longtime Associate Director of Programming Rachel Rosen at the SFIFF press conference in March, but Captor may opt for someone with closer ties to Hollywood. Your chances? Slim to none, unless you have at least seven years of film festival or industry experience.

Class Action Immediately after wrapping a successful premiere event at the end of May, the folks running DocFest got a call from a New York documentary film festival claiming it had trademarked the name "Docfest" and asking the S.F. group to choose a different name. Says Tod Booth, who spearheaded the local event, "Their mission statement claims that their Docfest exists to "expand the audience for documentaries and to support documentary filmmakers,' but apparently they stop short of supporting other festivals who want to do the same thing. The indie spirit at work!" Sarcasm gets you nowhere in this world -- especially with lawyers -- so Booth came up with an elegant solution: DocuFest.

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Michael Fox


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