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Lighting Up North Beach: Those Guys Present Films With Friends

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On the third Wednesday of every month this year, from June through November, Those Guys transform North Beach into the scene of a film festival. Bars, cafes, alleyways, and other sites become screening rooms, for the kinds of films you probably never saw before. Indie productions, experimental ones, old cartoons, historic footage, and art films appear on screens throughout the neighborhood, screening times staggered as much as possible, so you can see at least some of almost everything, if you like.

For several years, Cacophony Society event planner extraordinaire, Rob Schmitt—who gave the world SantaCon— has been projecting movies onto the windowless back of a building a block away, across from his North Beach porch. He was also instrumental in staging Lapo Guzzini’s film events in the alley between Vesuvio and City Lights in 2022. But in the last year, Rob joined two enthusiastic collaborators for elaborate film viewing events, New York filmmaker Nanci Gaglio, the Telegraph Hill Dwellers arts and culture director, who was talking about starting a film series all over the neighborhood to anyone who would listen, and avant-garde filmmaker and professor of cinema studies and film production, Dominic Angerame, who came to North Beach 45 years ago, when the neighborhood was a nexus for experimental filmmakers. Collectively, and with a lot of volunteers, including cinephiles, filmmakers and artists, graphic artists, projectionists, writers and painters, they’re Those Guys.

This month’s event, on August 16, opens with Roberto Rossellini’s classic, Rome: Open City. It will screen twice, first at 5:30, and showing again at 7:30, on the Piazza Pellegrini Patio. The program features work from Dominic Angerame’s extensive archives of experimental cinema, including North Beach (2000) by Jeb Mortenson, which screens at 6 at SFOG, five films by Bruce Baillie, whose film Castro Street was chosen for the National Film Registry in 1992, showing at the Savoy Tivoli at 7:30, and a film about Harry Smith, himself an experimental filmmaker, described as a cosmic scholar, will be shown at the Beat Museum on Broadway at 7.

At 8 pm, there are three choices. You can go to the punk club and gallery, Fallout, on Bannam Place, to see three William Burroughs films. This venue is also the former studio of North Beach artist Winston Smith, where he designed a logo, album covers, and posters for the Dead Kennedys, Green Day, Moonalice, and other punk-era bands. At the Churchkey on Grant, there’s an unidentified assortment of films in the deep, rich medium of 16mm. At Le Petite Paris on Broadway, they’re showing early French films from the Gaumont Studios, directed by Alice Guy Blanche. For details and addresses, go to the Those Guys

Making this event happen demands a lot of site-specific arrangements. Every location requires a different-sized screen, the right projection equipment, and the elaborate process of setting up, breaking down, and returning or storing equipment. Regardless of the labor and costs involved, Those Guys want this event to remain free. But to thank the venues for giving the event space,
you’re encouraged to order something.

“Films With Friends23 is a 6-month run and will end in a fantastic finale in November,” says Nanci Gaglio. “Stay tuned for some awesome films you can’t see elsewhere. For me, there’s nothing better than seeing a bunch of strangers come together to watch films. That’s how we build community and friendship. North Beach and Telegraph Hill seem to beg for it. The idea, too, is to take community ideas—this series belongs to all of us. We welcome others to join us in making this happen each month.”

Film times and info via

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P Segal - Bohemian Archivist

P Segal - Bohemian Archivist

P Segal is a San Francisco native, writer, therapist, and life coach. Literary agents have called her a clever niche writer, but none of them can figure out what the hell her niche is.