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Cinequest Picks And One Ringer

Song From the Southern Seas Somewhere in the far reaches of the steppes in Kazakhstan, a Russian couple lives side by side with an Asiatic family. The child of the Russian couple looks more like the darker-skinned neighbors, and he is a wild thing who takes to horses like a true Mongol. Naturally, the Russian father harbors deep doubts about the boy's parentage. After much rustic humor, the downtrodden dad learns some lessons in cross-cultural understanding. The landscape, remote and rarely seen, truly takes the breath away. Unfortunately, the antics of its inhabitants soon grow tiresome, particularly when the Russian husband and wife take turns chasing each other around the barnyard with whatever weapon is handy. (March 7 at 3:45pm at Camera 12.) (MSG)

Corpse Run An entertaining coming-of-age movie about some PC gamers. Director and writer John-Michael Thomas creatively uses random inserts of game modes, voice-overs and the Windows blue screen of death to keep the narrative going. The characters aren't that deep, but they are fun to watch, especially Brea Grant as Liberty, the flamboyant fan girl, and Jen Nickolaisen as the quirky love interest. The movie both pays homage to and gently mocks this generation. (March 4 at 5pm at Camera 12.) (CW)

Raging Grannies: The Action League Dressed as what the English vaudevillians call a charwoman, these various "gaggles" of protesters are a feature at many political demonstrations. One of the original grans says, "I've never been happy with the buffoon style." But the South Bay–based group followed here enjoys the chance to dress up, show up, sing protest songs and even get arrested at Congressman Mike Honda's office. The film discusses reports that the California National Guard's Domestic Surveillance Unit kept tabs on the grannies. This example of Your Tax Dollars at Work—keeping America safe from Rascal-riding radicals—led to protest signs reading "We can't find Osama, but we can spy on grandma." Mountain View documentary filmmaker Pam Walton emphasizes that many of these antiwar protesters were the wives of veterans. Still, watch special guest star Bill O'Reilly get shocked, shocked!. to hear a granny imply that military recruiters lie to inductees. (March 7 at 2pm and March 8 at noon, both at Camera 12.) (RvB)

Shorts Program 1: Dark Humor in the Dark Donald isn't content to simply slit his wrists and die slowly of blood loss like any normal man bent on bathtub-bound suicide. No, Donald must build an elaborate time machine in his shower and travel to the future in order to do the deed. Jarring, trippy cuts, extreme close-ups and a breathlessly funny, time-bending plot rule Welgunzer. One-eighth of Cinequest's first shorts program, the 14-minute filmette is a farcical black comedy that stars character actor Gary Colon as the snaggle-toothed Donald, times three. The short's homages to Shel Silverstein, Terry Gilliam and Jean-Pierre Jeunet stand out in both the story line and the antique-futuristic look of the small set. Another highlight of this program is the irreverent Dan and a Van, a perplexing if sporadically brilliant play on the whole "Don't judge a book by its cover" moral, or in this case, "Don't judge a pedophile by his ride." In it, a sketchy tool sells his used shagg'n wagon to a greasy, unshaven milquetoast that he immediately suspects to be a kiddy fiddler. Paranoia and blood splatter ensues. (March 5 at 9:30pm at Camera 12 and March 7 at 11:45pm at Camera 12.) (JF)

Whiskey Tears Not part of Cinequest, but since we're celebrating indie films, this is definitely worth a mention. In-between the cracks of downtown San Jose's bar scene one finds a ragtag crew of rockabilly twentysomethings who swill whiskey, cruise around on their vintage bicycles and simply find ways to do absolutely nothing. Whiskey Tears, directed by Frank Door, is a short slice of their life. They drink in the back yard of their Victorian, ride their bikes down San Fernando Street, and then they go to Cinebar, Caravan and Voodoo Lounge. That's it. That's all they do. Even though this is a fictional account, the film is absolutely an authentic dead-on portrayal of many people's routines in downtown San Jose. They're just not the lawyers, power brokers or other corporate types who infest the 'hood in the daytime. These are the kids who make up the live music scene, or at least what's left of it. And speaking of that, two of San Jose's finest bands—the Shitkickers and the Whiskey Avengers—make cameo appearances, as do a handful of local scenesters. If your rockabilly girlfriend ever tried to drunkenly bite some foxy Asian girl inside Cinebar (not that there's anything wrong with that), then this short film is for you. Officially sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon and Rockstar Energy Drink. (March 6 at 8:30pm at the Voodoo Lounge, San Jose; VIP Reception to follow with 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage and live performances by the Shitkickers and the Whiskey Avengers.) (GS)

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