Long 'n' Short 

My, how you've grown


We live in a state where finding a film festival is about as easy as running for governor. So, what's so special about the second annual Oakland International Film Festival? For many on-the-cusp filmmakers, such as teacher-turned-OIFF founding director David Roach, Oakland is the new frontier for independent, do-it-yourself filmmakers. Presented by the Oakland Film Society, a grassroots organization dedicated to showcasing indie films and filmmakers, the eight-day fest -- September 18-25 at the Grand Lake Theater (corner of Grand and Lake Park, Oakland) -- features a diverse mix of documentaries, shorts, and features from around the globe. But while international in scope, the OIFF stays local in spirit: almost half of this year's works come from the Bay Area. And considering that the fest is only in its second year, the week's festivities are pretty impressive: 68 works from sixteen countries, twenty filmmakers in the flesh, two days of workshops, and a full night dedicated to Oakland filmmakers. There's also a gala at Oakland's Historic Sweet's Ballroom and a generous helping of filmmakers' discussions, mixers, and workshops, open to the public. As for this year's film lineup, Roach hopes to put a dent in the myth of the overnight sensation by paying homage to that quirky, often-overlooked medium where many a filmmaker starts -- the short subject. As a result, expect a plethora of flicks under an hour, with several notables from the Cannes and Sundance festivals. Indeed, the closing night screening, a collection of short works from local filmmakers, entitled "Putting Oakland on the Map," is reason alone to scrape together the dough for an all-access festival pass. Screened thematically, the short films cover just about everything from hip-hop in Colombia and land struggles in India to Jews in Armenia and racism in the United States. Of course, there are plenty of full-length features too, including American Cousins, a British comedy that mixes fish and chips with guns and gangsters; Un Secreto de Esperanza (A Beautiful Secret), a tender coming-of-age tale; and two provocative films -- Skin Deep and Book of Rules -- from South Bay filmmakers. OaklandFilmSociety.org or 510-325-9449. $8.50 per screening, $130 all-access festival pass. -- Joy White



Lit Happens

He blames public relations for the death of democracy and calls journalism a "lousy profession." PR Watch editor John Stauber, coauthor of Weapons of Mass Deception, will discuss Iraq and propaganda (what could these possibly have in common?) at Cody's. 9/17, 7:30 p.m. ... Is your saggy ceiling the result of roof rot or a large corpse in the attic? Mike Litchfield, whose book House Check cites 600 symptoms and cures for common problems in da house, provides diagnoses at Builders' Booksource. 9/17, 7:30 p.m. ... The narrator of SF Weekly stage critic Michael Scott Moore's new novel, Too Much of Nothing, is a nefesh, a Jewish ghost, but he used to be a high-school surfer dude who flirted with girls in a California beach town and was killed for his trouble. Unrelated to the other MM, this one will be at Emeryville Barnes & Noble. 9/18, 7:30 p.m. ... Poly, want a cracker? Spoken-wordster Wendy-O-Matik will discuss Redefining Our Relationships, her how-to for the polyamorous and other lovers, at AK Press, 647-A 23rd St., Oakland; 9/18, 7 p.m. ... Bards lurk on both sides of the Caldecott Tunnel: Richard Stella reads at Primo's Coffee House, 2230 Oak Grove Rd., Walnut Creek; 9/21, 2 p.m. ... We don't need no stinking babysitters: Vanessa Thill and Kelly Reed, twelve-year-old cofounders of The Dayton Tribune youth lit mag, come from Alameda to celebrate their sixth issue at Cody's Fourth Street. 9/21, 4 p.m. ... In Thomas Farber's novel The Beholder, an older writer (who works at UC Berkeley, as does Farber) finds sexual bliss that turns into anguished obsession with a young married woman. Autobiographical? Ask if you dare after he reads at Black Oak. 9/21, 7:30 p.m. ... Local legend Maxine Hong Kingston lost a manuscript in 1989's Oakland Hills fire; starting over, she came up with The Fifth Book of Peace, from which she'll read at Cody's Fourth Street. 9/23, 7 p.m. -- Anneli Rufus

SAT 9/20

Fine Folk

This year's East Bay Pride Arts Festival comprises a variety of musical genres, from hip-hop to gospel. And while the folk stylings represented at Women Singing Out may be a little more predictable for a Pride event, the density of that particular field requires that the talent truly shine. For instance, Irina Rivkin was the winner of the OutMusic Awards OutSong of the Year 2003, and soulful guitar-slinger Shelly Doty won a spot on 1999's Lilith Fair stage. Also appearing at Rose Street House of Music (1839 Rose St., Berkeley) are vocal trio Making Waves, Rebecca Crump, Green Huse, Maria Quiles, and Woody Simmons. The show starts at 8 p.m., and cover is $8-$15. 510-594-4000, ext. 687. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 9/20

Wit's Left

In a recent Salon column, Joe Conason opined, in the pragmatically hopeful voice that has become his hallmark, "At the risk of encouraging gloating or complacency (which would be far worse), Washington's neoconservatives are currently suffering an awful rout." In his latest book, Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth, he scrutinizes ten of conservative America's most chafing allegations, from liberal media control to conservative family values. Conason debunks the Right with the witty proficiency of that overeducated uncle you always wanted to help you with your Social Studies homework. He stops by Cody's, 2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, at 7:30. 510-845-7852. -- Stefanie Kalem


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