The first Brainwash Drive-In Movie Festival took place eight years ago in a weedy vacant lot in San Francisco's Bayview district. Moviegoers sat in their cars or brought chairs, watched underproduced indie films and videos projected on a garage door, and drove off feeling they'd struck a blow against multiplexism.
Brainwash has come a long way since then. All the way to West Oakland, to be exact -- where fest honcho Dave "Shelby Toland" Krzysik is once again screening odd films outdoors, this time in the parking lot of the Alliance for West Oakland Development at 1357 5th St. (at Mandela Parkway), at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, July 5 and 6 ($10). It's now called the Brainwash Drive-In/Bike-In Movie Festival, no doubt in deference to East Bay sensibilities.
Aside from that sop, Brainwash is still as peculiar as ever. Explains Krzysik: "We're a down-home type of film fest. We've been showcasing artists like George Kuchar for years, and now we're supplying shorts for TV. We're connected with the BBC and NBC. But it took us eight years to come up with about an hour of material for NBC; they're afraid of most of the things we show. In a fest, you're free as a bird. Ninety percent of Hollywood is action or adventure, so if a filmmaker wants to do something different, it's the festivals or nowhere." Scouting out Brainwash's lineup, it's easy to imagine this is the only chance you'll ever have to look at, say, Brando Carbon Copies by San Francisco's Jim Granato (a sci-fi music vid); or Teeny Monkey Productions' Timmy's Wish, with its appearance by Jesus (the Christian deity himself showed up at Brainwash one year to hand out awards); or Jenny McCracken's Water from the Moon, a spooky romance performed by marionettes. All this rampant estrangement fits in with Brainwash's de facto logo -- a "sheep" (played by Lani Flantz of Sheep United for Victory) embracing a gas can and an American flag at the "Buy Everything Day" protest. Say "Baa-aaaa!" and bring your own chair.
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