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Movie Madness

[whitespace] Quirky Brainwash Movies Festival showcases over 50 short films and videos

By Simone Stein

There are film festivals in San Francisco every other weekend, and the very term "festival" doesn't mean much now that any manufacturer of preppy pants can slap a few indie gems together and call the resultant marketing ploy a celebration of cinema. But the quirky Brainwash Movies Festival stands out among the scopophiliac glut. Comprising over 50 short films and videos, half of them locally made, Brainwash is a festival in the true sense, complete with a fashion show by the Space Cowgirls.

Many of us reach for our remote control when we hear the words "experimental" film, but Brainwash's films aren't just artsy and underground--they're also polished and massively entertaining. Some contain feature-length plots condensed into a few intense minutes, like "Have You Seen Patsy Wayne," about a woman on welfare who believes she's the love child of John Wayne and Patsy Cline, and "Robber," a quiet, dazzling film about a gorgeous little urchin who sneaks into department stores and steals women's purses.

There's also a fabulous parody by Philip Pelletier, "New Testament: Believe the Profit." A fake commercial with Hollywood-style production values, it opens with Jesus as a liquor pitchman.

Brainwash is the brainchild of Dave Krzysick, a filmmaker and a member of the Cacophony Society, a group of pranksters that has had hundreds of crazed Santas descend on unsuspecting cities at Christmas time, among other stunts. Brainwash was originally called "The Cacophony Society Drive-In Film Festival." People would drag over chairs and couches with wheels from the Bernal Heights Soapbox Derby. Krzysick got tired of worrying about the weather, though, so he moved inside. "There's nothing like having an outdoor movie festival," he says, "but at least the show will go on."

At SOMAR Gallery, 934 Brannan, on July 3 and 5 at 9pm. $7 for one night, $10 for both. 415/273-1545.

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From the June 29-July 12, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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