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Taking Chances

Bad Dudes
Cookie and the Tramp: Greg Torrijos' 'Bad Dudes' parodies cop dramas.

'Cataleptic Canvas' festival offers independent filmmakers a new forum

By Richard von Busack

'INDEPENDENT FILM is the same thing as alternative music," says Ken Portwood. In other words, the phrase is too often just a hip new mask for the same old players. Portwood is starting up what he hopes will be a once-a-year festival of genuinely independent film called "Cataleptic Canvas." The first edition takes place Friday at midnight at the Towne Theater and features eight films in two hours, including shorts by Victoria Drake, Gary Paul Weisler, John and Gary Torrijos, Griffin Lamachy, Michael Derrossett, Steven Warner, M. David Lee III and J.P. Gorin.

"The films are dominated by a surreal, dark tone," Portwood says. "My own film, Breakfast, is the result of setting off to make a classic horror film, using a lot of images and telling the same story twice over. In my film, the pacing is slow to indicate a kind of resonance. We're slowly building a tower--you don't realize how many bricks you've used until you're at the top looking down." Greg Torrijos' Bad Dudes is a straight-faced satire of bad cop shows. Torrijos was a film major at San Jose State University, who previously made a short titled "The Next to Last Temptation of Christ" (Jesus ponders whether or not to return a wallet he finds). Torrijos met Portwood where they both work, at Channel 11. "The goal of a lot of my friends was to go to Hollywood to direct a feature," Torrijos says. "Their idea of filmmaking wasn't about challenging the viewer, making them wonder whether they were repulsed by a film or loved it."

"There's a long list of reasons why I'm doing this," Portwood adds. "One is my desire to get my films seen, and the other is to watch decent films that aren't arranged according to any political or demographic bias. For example, my last experience with a film festival was the Orlando Film and Video Fest in Florida. I was told that the response numbers were high for my film, but that the demographics of the area were such that it wouldn't be right for them. My film isn't made just for senior citizens or MTV twentysomethings. That rejection pretty much lit the fuse and made me start this up."

Cataleptic Canvas plays Saturday (Nov. 15) at midnight at the Towne Theater in San Jose. (408/943-9005)

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From the Nov. 13-19, 1997 issue of Metro.

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