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Giving Trump The Cinematic Middle Finger

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By Peter Wong

Want to see thirteen filmmakers come out against Donald Trump and the hateful and oppressive America he embodies?  Then you need to check out the upcoming short film anthology Filmmakers Unite. This anthology runs October 5-11, 2018 at the Roxie Theater!

Helming this project are San Francisco Bay Area independent filmmakers Ellen Bruno and Jay Rosenblatt.  They asked 200 filmmakers from diverse backgrounds to make a cheap and quick short running ten minutes or less expressing their feelings about what was happening to an America that saw Trump as a viable president.  50 filmmakers expressed interest in Bruno and Rosenblatt’s proposal. Out of the 30-35 submissions that arrived, thirteen films were selected to create a program of diverse voices using different styles, tones, and genres.

Rosenblatt has assembled a short film program with a political bent before.  Long-time San Francisco residents will remember the “Underground Zero” shorts anthology.  That collection of films, curated with filmmaker Caveh Zahedi, was made in the confusing and anger filled period following the events of America’s 9/11.

(As director Ken Loach points out, that 2001 event needs to be distinguished from Chile’s 9/11.  45 years ago on September 11, 1973, Salvador Allende’s democratically elected socialist government got overthrown and replaced by General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship…thanks to the complicity of the American government.   Needless to say, Loach’s pointing out that historic fact was not appreciated in some American circles.)

Turning back to Bruno and Rosenblatt’s forthcoming anthology, here are some shorts viewers can expect to see:

Remember when Mexican Donald Trump pinatas became a news item?  Ex-media Creative Director Sarah Clift does with her program opener “The Good Mother.”  It’s the story of a mother’s quest across Mexico. Her object is acquiring a Donald Trump pinata for her son’s birthday.  But where she has to go to find the pinata is a story in itself.

Pacho Velez co-directed the notable documentaries “The Reagan Show” and “Manakamana.”   Nicole Salazar’s professional credits include producing both “Democracy Now!” and the Al Jazeera English documentary series “Fault Lines.”  “The Starting Line,” the short made by Velez and Salazar, takes viewers to the Tijuana border crossing. An ordinary day of travel becomes something far different as news reports of Donald Trump’s inauguration blare from television sets.

Oakland-based Afro-Xicana experimental filmmaker Shy Hamilton contributes the short “Who Matters?”  The film consists of gifs raising en masse an important question for America’s political discourse: Whose voices are worth listening to in American society?

“Scared Very Scared” uses found footage to create an imaginary therapy session.  This new found footage short from “Filmmakers Unite” co-curator Rosenblatt examines the link between Trump and the popular fears he exploits for voter support.

Iraq-born television documentary maker Usama Alshaibin examines the emotional toxicity of AM right-wing talk radio in his short “The Muslim Meme.”  Imagine regularly commuting to work and being frustrated at discovering a radio dial endlessly filled with right-wing hate-mongering, and you’ll have the flavor of this film.

Acclaimed independent filmmaker Alan Berliner contributes the cinematic essay “State Of The Union.”   It’s a meditation on America’s political divide and how Trump’s election accelerated those divisions for the worse.

These are just some of the shorts to be found in Bruno and Rosenblatt’s program.  Hopefully, viewers will find a short that expresses their spirit of rebellion against those trying to build an American autocracy.

“Filmmakers Unite” runs October 5-11, 2018 at the Roxie Theater (3117-16th Street, SF)

Filmmakers behind several of the shorts will appear in person at the October 6, 2018 screening.  For more information about the anthology and its filmmakers, go here

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.