Anders’ New Festival to Rock with Film, Bands and Punk Aerobics
by Brian Brooks
Rock and roll films, including a Beatlemania parody, free concerts and even punk rock aerobics are some of the events planned for the first Don’t Knock the Rock Festival, director (and founder) Allison Anders (“Things Behind the Sun,” “Mi Vida Loca”), festival director Gianna Chachere of Slamdance and music director Tiffany Anders announced Wednesday. The festival, which will run for three days at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome Theater and other venues in Los Angeles next month (August 15 – 17), opens with the L.A. premiere of “MC5: A True Testimonial.” The film is about MC5, a 1960’s group that combined music with the politics of rebellion. Director David C. Thomas and producer Laurel Legler will join for a Q & A following the screening. Portions of the proceeds from the event will benefit a number of charities.
Among the films that are set to screen at the inaugural Don’t Knock the Rock Film & Music Festival are a number of classic music flicks, including: John Boorman’s 1965 film “Having a Wild Weekend,” two installments of Penelope Spheeris’ “Decline of Western Civilization” series, Bob Rafelson’s 1968 film “Head” (co-written by Jack Nicholson,) Lou Adler’s “Ladies and Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains,” Dave Markey’s 1991 doc, “The Year Punk Broke,” and Kurt Voss’ 2001 movie, “Down And Out With The Dolls.”
“All these [films] have at their core a fierce rebellious spirit, [and] are anti-corporate by their nature,” Allison Anders said in a conversation with indieWIRE. She said that she had the idea for the festival while she teaching a UC Santa Barbara class on rock films. “I had such a good time, and the students loved it. I thought we should have a music and film festival here in Hollywood.” Continuing she added, “It’s Hollywood we should have this kind of thing.”
Anders, who won the New York Film Critics Circle award for best new director for “Gas, Food and Lodging,” said she later phoned Elizabeth Stanley, assistant executive director at the Directors Guild of America for help. “I made some phone calls and said, ‘I want to start a film festival, how do I do that?’ Eliazbeth [then] introduced me to Gianna.” Gianna Chachere is the director of the annual Slamdance Film Festival and co-producer of the Slamdance Filmmakers Bootcamp in New Orleans. Anders’ daughter, Tiffany Anders, herself a singer, came onboard as the festival’s music director. “Tiffany moved back from New York,” Anders explained, “And I said, ‘I want you to book the bands,’ [and] Tiffany said to me, ‘I couldn’t get a booking agent, now I am one.'”
Bands playing during the festival will include veteran group Sonic Youth, headling the festival’s closing night. Other performances will happen at the Hollyood Knitting Factory and the El Rey Theatre. Neil Haggerty, J Mascis, Alex Chilton, Dead Meadow, Erase Errata and The Tyde are all slated. Additionally, there will be free performances by local bands daily during the fest in the courtyard of the ArcLight Cinerama Dome Theater, and the fest will host a Teen Band Contest for musicians under 18 competing for prizes including recording studio time at Ocean Way on Sunset.
Other films screening will include the L.A. premiere of Eric Idle’s “Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch.” The Beatlemania parody is a sequel to the 1978 film, “All You Need is Cash,” on the “pre-fab four.” The event will also include some more conventional fest trappings like panels, and parties, although Anders said they will be open to everybody.
“It’s a festival for the fans because I’m a fan. We don’t have an industry [angle] whatsoever, but if they want to sponsor us that’s great. But it’s for the fans,” Anders said.
The director, who said that she is currently writing “something” for HBO, said that she is looking forward to punk rock aerobics which will be held during the event, “We are Los Angeles after all, and we’ve got to put in fitness. We have to live up to the stereotype somehow.”