In the Works 

Fourteen and full of surprises


With the coming of autumn in movie houses, many of us are happily bidding adieu to a rash of brainless summer blockbusters. While anxiously anticipating more provocative pictures that cut deep and think fast -- movies such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Cat in the Hat -- it's good to be reminded that the East Bay offers a plethora of quality film fests to occupy open calendars and provide a little roughage to the often high-fructose commercial movie diet. This weekend's 2003 Black Filmworks Film Festival, now in its fourteenth year, is one such staple worth sampling. The three-day fest -- October 17-19 at the Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St.) -- is sponsored by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Inc., the nearly thirty-year-old nonprofit dedicated to illuminating the cinematic contributions of such African-American creators as little-known pioneer Oscar Micheaux and the often underappreciated Spike Lee. The BFHFI, whose board boasts Bay Area movers and shakers Belva Davis and Danny Glover, organizes a host of lecture series, special screenings, educational symposia, and the annual Oscar Micheaux Awards Ceremony at Oakland's Paramount Theatre. Along with a Saturday evening awards ceremony, the festival features seventeen works, from both national and local artists, that span the cinematic spectrum from features and documentaries to shorts and animation. Interestingly, although the festival is traditional in its efforts to showcase big screen works, nonfilm entries like commercials, TV miniseries, and student-produced programming are also accepted. Consequently, there is the possibility that a super-cool PSA or music video might be tucked between a few screenings. Keep an eye out for several engaging offerings on race, including AfroPunk, Nigger or Not, and Footprints of Heritage -- a sprinkling of challenging shorts and two meaty bios on slave insurrectionist Nat Turner and writer Ralph Ellison. For showtimes and a complete festival lineup, call 510-465-0804 or visit $5 per screening, $10 for awards program, and $50 for an all-access festival pass. -- Joy White


Lit Happens

Lafayette Savaged

If you like his weekly advice on love, butt plugs, and such, then you'll like hearing sex columnist Dan Savage read from Skipping Towards Gomorrah, his road trip in search of the Seven Deadly Sins, at Lafayette Bookstore (10/15, 7 p.m.). ... Give me five laps before filing bankruptcy: Fiscally fit David Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover, shows how to pump financial iron at Barnes & Noble Dublin (10/15, 7:30 p.m.). ... Does the color of an artist's flesh matter as much as the color of the paint on the brush? Damn straight, say designer Sharon Mizota and UC Berkeley's Elaine H. Kim, whose Fresh Talk/Daring Glazes traces the recent history of Asian-American art. Meet the editors at University Press Bookstore (10/15, 5:30 p.m.). ... Be not alone with trigonometry: Trained mentors help teens with their math, science, and writing homework on a drop-in basis at the Oakland Main Library every Thursday (10/16, 4-8 p.m.). ... Transformed by time and guns from killers into cartoons, grizzlies linger in Golden State lore and logos. Susan Snyder shows slides from her Bear in Mind at Cody's 4th Street (10/17, 7 p.m.). ... An innovative exhibition based on murals by African-American artists, as seen in James Prigoff and Robin Durnitz' book Walls of Heritage/Walls of Pride, opens today and runs through the rest of 2003 at Oakland's African American Museum & Library (10/18). ... Marilyn Stablein discussed LSD's spiritual merits with the Dalai Lama and hid from Indian cops among a bunch of human bones, as she recounts in Sleeping in Caves: A Sixties Himalayan Memoir at Diesel (10/19, 4 p.m.). ... Her mother's leg kept on hurting -- even after it was amputated. California Institute for the Arts faculty member Janet Sternberg reads from Phantom Limb at Black Oak (10/20, 7:30 p.m.). ... Spooks come out at night, in the desert, at the beach ... wherever the human mind goes, in World Fantasy Award-winner Glen Hirshberg's new collection The Two Sams. Shiver with him at Dark Carnival (10/21, 5:30 p.m.). ... Got an appetite for Appomattox? Join the Civil War Discussion Group at Borders Pleasanton (10/21, 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus


No Foolin'

"We've got all our permit problems behind us," claims Eli's Mile High Club owner Frank Klein, "and we're looking forward to lots of blues music." After a joyous and well-publicized rollout last summer, the venerable North Oakland roadhouse/blues dive did indeed have some trouble finding second gear, but now, keyed by the national "Year of the Blues" ballyhoo -- including movies, PBS TV shows, congressional proclamations, etc. -- Eli's is putting a load of national talent into its fall schedule for a seven-week Year of the Blues series. First up is Elvin Bishop, the versatile guitarist-singer ("Fooled Around and Fell in Love") who first made his name in Paul Butterfield's trend-setting Chicago band in the '60s. Bishop plays Saturday at 10 p.m. He's followed into Eli's by Joe Louis Walker (Oct. 25), Bird Legg & the Tight Fit Blues Band (Oct. 31), Tommy Castro (Nov. 1), Bobby Rush (Nov. 6), legendary harpist James Cotton (Nov. 7), Ronnie Stewart (Nov. 14), and the gospel-style Holmes Brothers (Nov. 22). 3629 MLK Way, Oakland. 510-655-6161. -- Kelly Vance


Oy Story

Tim Barsky returns to Epic Arts

Tim Barsky's troupe, Everyday Theatre, has its fingers in the disparate theater, breakdancing, circus arts, hip-hop, and klezmer worlds. And when it comes to storytelling, Barsky doesn't mess around. Okay, well, maybe he does mess around, but he does so artfully, mixing up hip-hop, street theater, and traditional Ashkenazi folklore -- Eastern European Jewish "wonder tales" -- to create a potent new product. Barsky's performances last year at Epic Arts and SF's Exit Theatre drew ranting raves from such trustworthy nabobs as our very own Lisa Drostova, who called his show Over Nine Waves "lush, tender, and haunting." Now Barsky is back at Epic Arts with Over & Away, a solo show of new and traditional stories. Expect his signature "battle flute" stylings wherein, in the tradition of the turntablist, he uses his trusty woodwind and a microphone to "scratch," manipulate beats, and play multiple lines at a time, without the use of loops or special pedals. The shows happen between 8 and 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday night, at 1923 Ashby Ave., Berkeley. 510-644-2204. -- Stefanie Kalem


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