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Requiem for a Dream 

Here's your chance at subliminal stardom: An indie film about S.F.'s underground youth culture needs extras

Wednesday, Sep 4 2002
UC Santa Cruz grad Eric Johnson's gritty, stylized debut feature, which begins filming here tomorrow, is the latest indie to plumb San Francisco's shadowy youth culture for brutal self-realizations and mordant laughs. Giuseppe Andrews (Detroit Rock City) plays a meth-addicted, sexually confused straggler who loses everything -- best friend, temp job, new girlfriend -- in the course of one nightmarish week. Cinematographer Barry Stone (Cherish, Dream With the Fishes) is shooting on both film and digital video; the White Trash Debutantes and other local punk bands provide the soundtrack. Johnson has chosen a brilliant title, Tweek City, which may not find its way onto multiplex marquees but which has brash, street-wise filmmaker Sam Fuller hooting in heaven.

Johnson is in need of unpaid extras -- or "background," as they're called in the biz -- for half a dozen street scenes in the Mission and, most notably, for a Debutantes concert at a North Beach club that's scripted for an ill-advised stage dive. That's right: a free show for a bunch of lucky groupies. If you're interested, leave your name and number on the Tweek City hotline (675-9706) or e-mail extras casting director Gabriela Maltz Larkin (also the actor who plays the lead character's mother) at Expect to provide your own wardrobe -- but that's part of the fun, right?

Investigation of a Flame Craig Baldwin would never be confused for a background player in the Mission. As a filmmaker, teacher, mentor, found-footage collector, and curator of the Other Cinema for 17 years, Baldwin has been at the center of the local underground scene longer than just about anybody. "Most people my age are in the back yard," Baldwin, 50, observes with a laugh. His 36th Other Cinema season begins Saturday, Sept. 7, with the touring Lost Film Festival. "This is what I'm engaged in. This is what gives me meaning. I feel like I'm in the moment -- not in step with history, a step ahead of history."

Long before the term "microcinema" entered the vernacular, Baldwin was showing experimental and documentary films in storefront spaces. He remains a big fan of other alternative spots like the Werepad, new nothing, and S.F. Cinematheque. While Baldwin eagerly shows the latest work by accomplished local artists Kerry Laitala, Eric Saks, and Martha Colburn, he's also a hard-core supporter of new filmmakers. "My sense is the movie scene is diversifying, expanding," he says. "There's more activity in more sectors: more women, more people of color, more personal essays, more personal docs. There is a younger generation, not the graybeards with berets -- and I'm wearing a beret now, and my beard is a little gray -- that's increasingly using video." Incidentally, Baldwin's still in the early stages of producing his latest epic experimental narrative, Mock-up on Mu, which conflates the topics of theme parks on the moon, aerospace, and New Age religion. The Other Cinema's calendar is online at

Crimes of Passion See How They Run (Reel World, Dec. 20, 2000), Emily Morse's portrait of the Brown-Ammiano mayoral race, has its TV broadcast premiere on KQED, Channel 9, this Friday, Sept. 6, at 9 p.m. ... The SFMOMA retrospective "Yes Yoko Ono," which includes ongoing screenings of her films from the late '60s, closes Sept. 8. ... Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader, the most radical film critic in America, will deliver a series of lectures in January at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where he'll be an artist in residence. ... And the award for crassest product placement of summer 2002 goes to: Minority Report, a future-set flick that plugged a swarm of real present-day products and retail chains in an egregious shopping-mall sequence. The idea would have been audacious 40 years ago; today it's simply avaricious, particularly coming from the most commercially successful director in the history of motion pictures (that'd be Spielberg). Second prize goes to Spider-Man, as diligent in its positioning of a soda can in Peter Parker's bedroom as it was in saluting the post-Sept. 11 resilience of New Yorkers.

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Michael Fox


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