Los Sures
Friday December 9, 7 pm to 10 pm at Dobbin Street: $8 to $10 

Dobbin St. is a new “luxury event space” that occasionally throws non-luxury events. For Halloween, they hosted a screening of Suspiria and went all out, washing the space in Dario Argento’s signature evil-pink light and amassing a band to do the live score. They even threw in some popcorn, a bar, and prep school-style beds for good measure.

This Friday, Dobbin is opening its doors again for its final (democratic) event of the year, a screening of Los Sures with a “community discussion” to follow. Originally shot in 1984 by a Chilean/Puerto-Rican immigrant, Diego Echeverria, the documentary takes an unflinching look at Los Sures, aka Williamsburg’s south side, when the neighborhood was wracked by crime and decay, a regular poo-storm stirred up by a neglectful city government, blockbusting landlords, arson, and poverty.

Amazingly, as the doc demonstrates, the Puerto Rican community was able to unite and pull their resources together to fight back against the slumlords, an apathetic city government, and the drugs and crime that threatened their livelihood. With help from local Williamsburg film non-profit UnionDocs, Echeverria’s film has been restored to its original glory, and has spawned an interactive, even broader look at the neighborhood’s history called Living Los Sures. 

Dobbin Street writes that, “as a new events space in Williamsburg,” they feel compelled “to engage with the neighborhood’s history and the culture of a community perhaps lost, save for this cinematic relic.” That’s all well and good, except for the “perhaps lost” part. Ask Debbie Madina and she’ll tell you the southside community’s sense of unity and place is as strong as ever, even if a great deal of families have been displaced.

Mondo Weirdo: a Trip to Paranoia Paradise
Saturday December 10, 10 pm at Spectacle: $5

This screening is part of a traveling “exhibition” of sorts, brought to you by Cult Epics, a film distribution company dedicated to restoring the most “sought after, lost and found cult films” to video. They’re currently running an Indiegogo campaign to fund the release of their next five titles. A few of them will be screened at Spectacle throughout the month of December, including Mondo Weirdo.Shot on 16 mm film, it’s a follow-up to Carl Andersen’s Vampiros Sexos, which is exactly what it sounds like: “the ultimate European underground punk rock hardcore sex vampire film.” Yup.

In Mondo, the filmmaker elaborates on the bulging bloodcore sexploitation theme with a plot that’s even more surreal. Hilariously, Andersen’s films combine his taste for erotic, gory splatter-fests and an earnest admiration for classic art house filmmakers. I mean, one of Andersen’s best known movies is Lick an Apple Like a Pussy: the Movie Stanislawski Never Made. And he dedicated the cinematic achievement in question, Mondo, to both the French New Wave legend Jean Luc Godard, and Jesús Franco, a Spanish filmmaker known for his a schlocky horror flicks. We’re sure this one’s nothing short of a masterpiece.

Two Trains Runnin’ 
Wednesday December 7 through Thursday December 15 at The Metrograph: $15

It was “Freedom Summer” 1964, and white college student activists and others hoping to lend a hand in the Civil Rights movement headed South. They helped black Southerners register to vote and engaged in educational outreach, and generally demonstrated solidarity with the movement. Meanwhile the KKK was not having it. The hate group organized protests, did the whole burning crosses thing, and generally acted like a bag of dicks.

The story we learned in history class was the horrific incident in June 1964, in which a young black men and two more white men from the North, volunteers with the Mississippi Summer Project, were brutally murdered. The truth is that incidents like these were common, and this one only attracted so much attention and became a national story because two of the victims were white.

("Two Trains Runnin'" film still via Metrograph)

(“Two Trains Runnin'” film still via Metrograph)

Two Trains Runnin’ essentially takes a step back, about 50 years back, and adds nuance to a story that many of us thought we knew well. At the same time, two car-loads full of blues fans, one traveling from California, the other on its way from New York, made the trip to Mississippi.  However, these kids were totally naive of what the Mississippi Summer Project knew well, and had instead gone to track down their favorite blues musicians.

For the most part, many of the white kids volunteering in the Mississippi Summer Project, although well-intentioned, were painfully unaware of just how dangerous the nation’s hotbed of racial tension really was. Most had never been to the South, or if they had, they’d flown under the radar as acquiescent white people who, at the very least, tacitly approved of Jim Crow. The result was an incredibly eye-opening experience for those involved, one that proved to be radically more impactful than any of the blues fans could have predicted. As one historian explains in the doc: “It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for blues artists, or trying to register voters, you are an outside agitator.”

(Flyer via Video Revival)

(Flyer via Video Revival)

Are You Loathsome?
Thursday December 8 and Friday December 9 (with reception to follow), 7:30 pm to 10 pm at Video Revival: $5 suggested donation

Cue Elvis singing “Are you lonesome tonight?” Whether you reacted to Trump’s election by picking up thumb-sucking again or started building a bomb shelter in which to store your stockpiled Bush’s beans, it’s time now to pull yourself out of the yucky muck that is wallowing in self-pity and dread, and arm yourself against hate. I’m not talking guns or whatever, and Efrem Zelony Mindell, the curator of Are You Loathsome?, doesn’t seem to be interested in that either.

“We need to listen more. Voice is being taken, becoming wordless,” he pleads in the curatorial statement. “All fronts are receding and I don’t know if there’s anywhere to go. What’s inside? Now is a time to be outside, together, for each other.”

Happening at Video Revival starting this Thursday and Friday, Mindell will host a marathon screening of shorts by more than a dozen filmmakers. Not all of the works were necessarily created in the wake of the Trump victory, but as he points out, they’re all immensely important to the sort of discussions we all need to be having right now.

Ok, admittedly that might all sound pretty vague. But as with most art shows, Are You Loathsome? seems to rely on what the audience makes out of it. Which is sort of a great way to approach this whole Trump tragedy too, right? Listening, thinking, feeling, are all essential if we are to oppose hatred and nihilism in any meaningful way: “Discussion must surge. We must learn to articulate. We each must be a better person. The only thing that works is bothering.”