Made on the Margins

For 15 years, the Dallas Video Fest has flickered on the fringe

Welcome to New York The problem with filmmakers pushing a liberal agenda is too often they believe it means merely making fun of the conservative ideal, which gets you only so far; it's easy to mock the solutions of others when you have none of your own. Norman Cowie's 23-minute doc, made pre-September 11 and part of the fest's compelling and often infuriating Reframing 9/11 collection, reveals the immaculate Manhattan of Rudy Giuliani as little more than a police state that carries out acts of "terrorism on the poor," in the words of one community activist, and "a campaign of racism and classism," says another. Giuliani often talked about bringing a "quality of life" back to New York City; his greatest achievement, he used to say, was cleaning up Times Square, replacing the old porn palaces with strip-mall outlets hawking Disney trinkets and overpriced CDs at the Virgin Megastore. He did so by enforcing seldom-used laws restricting street artists and the homeless alike; the result, insists one New Yawkah, was "an erosion of civil liberties and questionable street justice," and there's no question Rudy put a happy face on a grim situation. But Cowie insists on mocking those who hang themselves, including the head of the City Journal, a policy-making arm of the right-wing Manhattan Institute whose advice Giuliani too closely heeded. The filmmaker drowns out the debate by not only preaching to the converted, but shouting at them; the derision is deafening. (RW)

Women in Black Director Claudia Sherwood examines the image of Catholic nuns as ruler-carrying, knuckle-cracking spinsters who get their holy molies off by terrifying kids with whacks to the head and thoughts of eternal damnation. Unlike their male counterparts, the nuns seem only to have contributed to generations of very punctual but guilt-ridden and bitter adults who look back in anger and fondness at their years spent in school rooms learning reading, writing and religious devotion. But, as Sherwood points out, these Brides of Christ often had lousy marriages, some having been forced into the order by parents out of poverty, lack of marriage proposals or mental illness, and they take out their frustrations on the children they're supposed to steer toward godliness. While some former students reminisce about those wacky sisters, others relate horror stories about what they call institutionalized child abuse committed in the name of Jesus. (SS)

World of Photography Artists Michael Smith and William Wegman host this introduction to the basics of photography made in 1986. Smith plays the novice photog to Wegman's seasoned pro (as evidenced by his safari jacket, comically fake black moustache and goatee and smarmy mannerisms) as Wegman works through 10 rules of professional photography, including "Looking Good is Important" and "Keep Your Darkroom Door Locked." (SS)

The revolution was televised: Ernie Kovacs' rare TV work will be presented by wife and fellow performer Edie Adams.
The revolution was televised: Ernie Kovacs' rare TV work will be presented by wife and fellow performer Edie Adams.
A hole in the head, top: This is, we guess, a scene from Headcheese. Checking out, below: Rhys Ifans and David Schwimmer kill time in  Mike Figgis' Hotel.
A hole in the head, top: This is, we guess, a scene from Headcheese. Checking out, below: Rhys Ifans and David Schwimmer kill time in Mike Figgis' Hotel.

Details

May 16-19. Tickets, ranging from $65 for an all-fest pass including Video Association of Dallas membership to $10-$15 for single-day passes, are available at the door or at www.videofest.org. The opening-night film, Hotel, will screen at 7:30 p.m. May 15 at the Magnolia Theater, 3699 McKinney Ave.
Dallas Theater Center Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.

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