Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Film Screening: CHALK

Saturday, January 21st at 2 p.m., the AMR Department will sponsor the locally-produced, independent feature CHALK (1996). Screened in the Bay Area for the first time in over a decade, this pool-hustling family saga is most notably remembered for being locally created, cast, and shot by the Tenderloin Action Group (TAG), a workshop of mostly homeless inner city residents who trained weekly under director and co-writer Robert Nilsson. Original reviews from the film’s premiere praise the screen presence of these actors, as well as Mickey Freeman’s cinematography, and Cassavetes-devotee Robert Nilsson’s convincingly dark and gritty atmosphere.

Film Still: TAG actors portray Clark and Jones

The 1998 San Francisco Chronicle review by Edvins Beitiks describes some scenes as “downright mesmerizing” such as ”the one of TC passing out on Ocean Beach, to be found at sunrise by a couple of surfers - a shot that includes a woman falling off a horse, a fat lizard and 200 shadings of blue and orange. There are slow-mo's of people in a pool hall, laughing and throwing their arms around, a shot from a roof on Valencia above the 500 Club, of Richmond trains clanking through the rain, of Watson and Lois sharing memories of their first kiss, and close-ups of the pool balls themselves, dancing across a table, moving toward the screen.” Enriching the experience for locals, there is footage of the Tenderloin and other City settings as they existed twenty years ago, before dot-commerce altered the streets and skylines.

Film Still: Don Bajema as Dorian James

CHALK, a challenging film to make, is also intended for adventurous viewers. It was created without regard to Hollywood formulas and entirely outside of the Hollywood system, financed independently in part through community grassroots fundraisers. As one reviewer put it, "Considering the odds against its ever being made, CHALK is amazing." Please join us for a rare screening this fine example of San Francisco community cinema. Film producers Ethan Sing and Rand Crook will be available for a discussion after the screening.

This flyer is from one of the many fundraising events held for the film. Other benefits included the support of Tom Waits, Gena Rowlands and Boz Scaggs as well as international pool stars Nick Varner, Mike Massey, Johnny Archer, Billy Aguero, Kim Davenport, and George Michaels.

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