June 12, 2007

"Last Call" for offbeat films: A homegrown film fest that merges quirky flicks, loud music and adult beverages

Andy Schanie: Last Call creator Andy Schanie recommends you come out to his film fest because, “You get to see movies, meet people and get blotto.”
Andy Schanie: Last Call creator Andy Schanie recommends you come out to his film fest because, “You get to see movies, meet people and get blotto.”

If the Last Call Film Festival occasionally takes some turns toward the unexpected — or even the downright bizarre — it’s probably a reflection of event organizer Andy Schanie. A self-effacing and self-described “movie dork,” he doesn’t fit the stereotype —  pretentious, wine-sipping cineastes who supposedly dominate the film festivals: He has played in bands titled Bodyhammer and Teen Pregnancy!; he has more tattoos than the maximum security wing of the state pen; and he thinks you should be able to drink hard liquor while watching films.

It was in 2005 that the former singer started thinking about a film festival.  Schanie was burnt out on playing in bands (“Musicians … are passionate people, which also makes them big babies. Myself included,” he says), his body was slowing down as he approached his 30s, he was married and was working as an internal auditor for a healthcare company. Still, he needed something to keep him going. A film festival sounded perfect.

Although switching from music to movies, he was influenced by his years of playing in bars. When he decided to start a film fest, he went to his home away from home, Old Louisville’s famed Rudyard Kipling. It’s a neighborhood bar/restaurant/performance space and a great place to see a band, albeit not the first place that might come to mind in terms of viewing movies.

Perhaps that is what makes the Last Call Film Festival such a social event, even though most festivals can come off as a bit dry. In the words of Schanie, “You get to see movies, meet people and get blotto.”
It is not just about the drinking, however, although that is obviously part of it. Schanie wanted to “screen movies in a different environment as an attempt to get the audience to look at them in an offbeat way,” he says. In other words, he wanted people to get off their asses and interact with people at a film festival, much as they would at a house party or concert.

 In his quest to bring the most original movies he can find, Schanie may inadvertently portray the Last Call Film Festival as a sort of outsider art exhibit. In its inaugural year, he screened the neo-silent horror movie “Call of Cthulhu” as well as “The American Astronaut,” a mondo-bizarro sci-fi musical (the director, Cory McAbee, came and performed with his band). Added into the mix were a selection of feature-length and short films, as well as standup comedy and local bands. The result: a rousing success based upon Schanie’s broad, adventurous tastes.

“Last year went great,” he gushed. “We had a full house, and people were drinking and having a good time.”
This year’s follow-up — starting at 6 p.m. and running past midnight both Friday and Saturday — promises to be just as strange. Schanie’s crowning achievement is a screening of the infamous surrealist musical “Forbidden Zone” (Saturday, 10 p.m.), with an appearance by its creator, Richard Elfman.
“It’s probably the strangest, most unique movie I’ve ever seen,” Schanie says.

Strange?
To say the least. It’s about a girl who travels to the “Sixth Dimension,” where she is caught in a love triangle with King Fausto and his wife, Doris. It is a deeply weird film, overflowing with intentional non-sequiturs and continuity errors. Like Lewis Carroll with much cheaper and more problematic drugs.
It is also considered one of the last, best midnight movies.

Other highlights of the Last Call Film Festival include:
• “The Goodtimeskid” (Saturday, 6:50 p.m.), a film by Azazel Jacobs, the son of experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs. Similar in spirit to work by filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch or Gus Van Sant, it is a quiet, deadpan comedy about mistaken identities and dead-end relationships. Although supposedly shot on stolen film stock for next to nothing, it is beautifully realized and boasts an absurdly photogenic cast. A feast for the eyes.
• “Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea” (Saturday, 8:33 p.m.), a deeply bizarre documentary about an ecological wasteland in California and the people who refuse to leave it. It boasts striking images, such as a church steeple piercing the surface of a manmade chemical lake. Narrated by none other than John Waters.
• Fake commercials by local guerilla satirists Holy Muckle (Saturday, 8:15 p.m.). In their Hardee’s send-up, a disagreement about the manliness of a burger descends into wanton violence. Their take on the Herbal Essence shampoo commercial is more suggestive than Madonna’s “Truth or Dare” and twice as silly.
• “Last Stop for Paul” (Friday, 10:52 p.m.), a feature-length comedy about two young salarymen with severe wanderlust. After the death of a friend, they travel across the globe to scatter his ashes. Along the way, they get stoned, robbed, laid and come dangerously close to growing up.
• A live performance by Louisville’s best off-kilter pop band, Lucky Pineapple (Saturday, midnight).
• An appearance by local comedian Adam White (during breaks on both nights), who will do some standup and introduce people to his new project, Congress of Adam. He is asking every American voter to provide him an object that is smaller than a shoebox and somehow reflects that voter’s personality. For one year, this object will be your “representative” and give you “certain privileges” at www.congressofadam.com. At the end of the year, the objects will be sold on eBay, with proceeds going toward soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Contact the writer at
leo@leoweekly.com