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A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank) Screening in D.C.

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A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank) Screening in D.C.

Old 03-02-12, 10:33 AM
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A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank) Screening in D.C.

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A film whose name D.C. International Film Festival dares not speak

By Mark Jenkins, Published: February 29

This year’s D.C. Independent Film Festival features two world premieres, including a rare fiction feature from a local director. But the highlight may be a documentary whose title can’t be announced in advance — and an appearance by the man who made it.

The movie, which screens Friday, the third day of the 14th annual DCIFF, is about a leading 1970s rock musician. Completed in 1974, it was directed by Les Blank, a 76-year-old maverick who exemplifies the American independent cinema.

The subject and title of the movie, although fairly easy to search online, cannot be revealed ahead of time without potentially attracting a lawsuit, says the Florida-born Blank by phone from his California home.

DCIFF publicist Maria Datch confirms that if the film’s identity is revealed before the screening — 9 p.m. at the fest’s main venue, the Naval Heritage Center auditorium — it must be canceled.

Here’s how Blank explains the film’s complicated status: The subject had a falling out with the producer. The musician sued and eventually won ownership rights to the film.

“For reasons he never explained to me, he did not want the film shown as it was,” Blank says.

Sensing possible trouble in making a film about a major rock musician, Blank says that he had a paragraph added to his contract giving him the right to show the film in a noncommercial setting if he was personally present. “So that’s what I’m doing,” he says.

On Thursday, the night before the mystery screening, Blank will appear at the Heritage Center to show excerpts from his films and discuss his career. Likely prospects for discussion include “Burden of Dreams,” his 1982 account of Werner Herzog’s battle to film “Fitzcarraldo” in the Brazilian jungle; 1969’s “The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins,” a portrait of the Texas musician; and “Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers,” a 1980 paean to “the stinking rose,” which is listed on the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.

Blank’s most recent movie is 2007’s “All in This Tea,” which follows American boutique-tea marketer David Lee Hoffman to China, co-directed by Gina Leibrecht. Blank is known for his friendships and collaborations with other filmmakers, including Herzog, Errol Morris and Jean-Pierre Gorin. One of his most fruitful partnerships was with German-born American-music enthusiast Chris Strachwitz, the soundman and producer for Blank’s 1976 “Chulas Fronteras,” a study of Tex-Mex norteno music.

A longtime friend, filmmaker and former MIT professor Richard Leacock, is the subject of a documentary that Blank is laboring to finish. Leacock, who died last year, formed a company with another documentary pioneer, D.A. Pennebaker, that was supposed to distribute “Lightnin’ Hopkins.” That didn’t quite happen, but Blank and Leacock remained friends. Blank traveled several times to France, where Leacock retired, to film him as he cooked and told stories.

That footage is the basis for a movie tentatively titled “How to Smell a Rose.” “I just need a grant to pay my editor,” Blank says, “and finally finish it off.”
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Old 03-02-12, 11:14 AM
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Re: A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank) Screening in D.C.

it's DC Independent Film Festival - not "International" - talk about embarrassing for Jenkin's let alone for the Washington Post editor that didn't catch it either.
Old 03-02-12, 11:27 AM
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Re: A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank) Screening in D.C.

Yeah, they posted a correction above the article but the error in the title remains.
Old 03-02-12, 11:59 AM
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Re: A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank) Screening in D.C.

Originally Posted by JackBurton
Yeah, they posted a correction above the article but the error in the title remains.
Jenkin's may have caught the error but hand it to the editor of the Post - they suck
Old 03-02-12, 12:23 PM
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Re: A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974, Les Blank) Screening in D.C.

I received an email stating that the screening is now sold out. However, there will be a second screening on Saturday @ noon in their main theater. Les will be present but there will be no formal Q&A. They are giving ticket holders the option to switch to the second screening in the larger venue if they prefer.

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