Best Art Cinema - 2006
Webster Film Series
The Webster Film Series' year-round slate of films busts preconceptions that "art cinema" equals talky movies about the existential angst of butter cows, with an all-cello score and an ass-load of unintelligible symbolism. Over the past year, James Harrison and Mike Steinberg, the brains and cinephiles behind the WFS' programming, provided retrospectives focusing on the careers of Louis Malle and Roman Polanski; arranged for a screening of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad hosted by special-effects maestro Ray Harryhausen; and screened We Jam Econo, the documentary about San Pedro punk band the Minutemen. The Webster Film Series also brought in cult film icon Ray Dennis Steckler for a screening of his low-budget, low-concept, lowbrow, high-entertainment films; wrangled a screening of Stan Brakhage's experimental works scored live by members of Mission of Burma and Sonic Youth; and just recently graced the Schlafly Bottleworks with a screening of 1980s sci-fi fun-bomb Flash Gordon under the auspices of Webster's "Strange Brew" film outreach for rowdy bargoers. Whether entertainment is found through enlightening exegesi on the human condition, classic fantasy, punk-rock docs, trash cinema, film as art or big-budget flops depends on the viewer's preference. But as far as Harrison and Steinberg are concerned, it's all worth seeing to someoneand so they screen it all. That's entertainment.