Channel surfing

The 1994 Dallas Video Festival mixes equal parts ineptitude and brilliance

Stories No One Wants to Hear. (Nov. 19, 1 p.m., Video Box.) This is an intriguing collection of four stories told by women who survived incest as children. Videomaker Mora Alper keeps things spare and direct, concentrating almost exclusively on the stories as they're told verbally by the women, and breaking things up with haunting fragments of off-kilter imagery. An epilogue scrawls up the screen at the end letting you know how many, if any, of the women's friends and loved ones believed or even acknowledged their experiences, leaving a deeply unsettling aftertaste. (MZS)

Stuff from Erik Saks. (Nov. 20, 4:45 p.m., TV Lounge.) Very unusual and definitely not for everybody, but well worth a look, this assortment of postmodern public service announcements combines collage and animation with plenty of wit and courage to create pieces that work both as propaganda and as art. (MZS)

Talking Trash. (Nov 19, 7 pm, TV Lounge.) Bouncing right along to give the American pop culture-hating French a swift kick in the pants is Euro-Trash, a program produced by Great Britain's Channel 4. The hosts are a pair of French media faves--TV star Antoine de Caunes and fashion designer-turned-impish gay hero Jean Paul Gaultier. The inane patter between de Caunes and Gaultier was written by Brits, who've recast them as entertainment program co-hosts launching a Francophilic culture war against the U.K. (the real target, of course, is French pomposity). Their weapons? Items from the tacky, seamy junk drawer of European pop culture, including profiles of a dead, Shaun Cassidy-esque '70s French pop music idol to a German porn movie featuring women and men in dinosaur costumes (Jurassic Fuck, we're told, was retitled Attack of the Pornosaurs after Spielberg got wind of it).

Glennda and Camille Do Downtown was an episode of a show produced for New York's cable access and hosted by drag queen Glennda Orgasm. Glennda's guest is attack scholar Camille Paglia, who has labeled her own brand of progressive politics "drag queen feminism" in honor of the spirit of independence and pagan artifice she adores in transvestites. Gangly Glennda and squirrelly Camille look like the leads in a Hal Hartley film produced by Queer Nation, walking and talking in rhetorical circles (and not very enlighteningly) on the subject of art and pornography (they're the same, both agree). In an incident which clearly wasn't staged, Camille and Glennda crash an anti-porn protest by a group of college-age women. "Give us more porn!" our heroes shout. "Why were you fired from Bennington?" demands one protester of Paglia. "A fistfight," Camille sputters. This one's a must-see. (JF)

The Texas Show. (Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., Horchow Auditorium.) This collection of recent work by Texas film and videomakers is dominated by overlong personal pieces that are noble in intent, but which grow grating and repetitious and soon lose the viewer. But it's worth seeing for Randy Clower and Sky Callahan's hilarious "Circus of the Sexes, Part 1," about a one-night stand that leads to a truly bizarre revelation; J.B. Hoffecker's "Little Women," a series of four beautifully wrought visual poems about being female in America; David Jahns and Bob Cook's extraordinarily well-directed short drama "Listen," the haunting story of a meek fry cook who lives upstairs from a young woman whose boyfriend beats her; and Mary Megan Kennedy's "America's Queen of Queens," an overlong, somewhat heavy-handed documentary about children's participation in the beauty pageant racket that contains footage so heartbreaking and revelatory you simply have to see it to believe it. Artists in attendance. (MZS)

This Land, This Texas. (Nov 19, 2:30 pm, TV Lounge.) Two documentary shorts celebrate three Texas mainstays--big cars, crazy people, and tornadoes. Cadillac Ranch celebrates the 20th anniversary of the infamous roadside installation in which Cadillacs were buried nose-first in the ground, hosted by the demented, Einsteinish Chip Lord. Martin Lisius' Beneath Stormy Skies reproduces excerpts from Martin Lisius' 20-minute documentary about the impending threat of a major tornado in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, completed this April just a month before cyclones ripped through southern Dallas County. Martin Lisius in attendance. (JF)

United States of Guns. (Nov. 19, 3 p.m., TV Lounge.) Swedish TV bankrolled this surprisingly thorough and evenhanded look at our obsession with firearms, providing plenty of, er, ammunition for both Second Amendment fanatics and disarmament agitators. The segment dealing with the L.A. jewelry shop owner who's killed five attempted robbers in close-quarters gun battles is both repulsive and vicariously exciting. (MZS)

Velvet Redux. (Nov. 20, 6:30 p.m., Horchow Auditorium.) There exist a handful of great concert videos and hundreds of average ones, so it's only fitting that one documenting the Velvet Underground reunion tour should fall somewhere in between: this was a band that never quite fit in, one that glorified junkies while everyone else was still trying to figure out how to roll their first joint. But if the music Lou Reed, John Cale, Moe Tucker, and Sterling Morrison made 15-plus years ago was ahead of its time then, it's timeless now: the performances of "Sweet Jane," "Femme Fatale," "Venus in Furs," and all the other "classics" are tremendous, proof that the band broke up far before it had reached its expiration date. But, like so many other concert videos, it's just sort of there, better heard than seen. The distance of the video screen tends to make such affairs cold and impersonal, staged spectacles of which you're not a part. And, for a band that split again so violently after this brief European tour, there doesn't seem to be much tension there. In fact, Lou smiles so much and makes so many goofy jokes (like the reference to "going to Velvet Underground concerts" in "Sweet Jane") that it seems kinda fun for him. (RW)

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