PHILADELPHIA 06 FESTIVAL REPORTS
"The Puppetmaster" Popolow
of the premiere events in Philadelphia this year was the Backseat
Film festival. Undoubtedly it was not called the Drinking man’s
festival for nothing. When you entered you were greeted with
free shots of rum and a Pabst Blue ribbon. On top of that, you
were treated to truly independent cinema… And no, I am
not talking about the indie films starring Tim Robbins and executive
produced by MTV…No…I’m talking truly independent
films where people put their heart and soul and money they didn’t
even possess into their labors of love.
if that weren’t enough, there were after parties. All
throughout the Philadelphia area, the Backseat Film Fest boogied
at some of the most well known spots in Philly in places
such as The Tritone on South Street and Whiskey Dix. All six
nights were nights to remember for its sheer energy, drinking
and all around good natured fun.
first night kicked off on Tuesday, February 28th with an opening
ceremony that strictly means what it says. The two main hosts
of the program, Zafer Ulkucu and Doug Sakmann (dressed as the
devil and baring a medieval battle axe), opened the fest with
the traditional bashing of rejected submissions. In order to
complete this ritual, they needed the aid of two voluptuous
virgins (hah). At Doug’s request, the bashing commenced
and what followed was a flurry of broken plastic flying every
which way from VHS tapes being shattered into a million pieces
with every strike of a baseball bat to DVDs being single handedly
me, I find it refreshing to see true criticism against rejected
films. I honestly am sick of those sanctimonious letters that
say… We’re sorry we cannot accept your film though
all the submissions are good …blah, blah, blah…Why
not just say we cannot accept your film because it sucks! God
Bless the Backseat Film Festival for their honesty!
the bashing and thrashing, the audiences were treated to a double
feature of Porn.
The films to open the ceremony were the Backseat produced AVN
award winner, Re-Penetrator and Xxxorcist, both starring porn
superstar, Joanna Angel, who was in attendance with co-star
Kylee Kross. Each film were greeted with expressions of shock
and laughter. Both were an eclectic mix of sex and violence
with a lot of porn humor thrown in the mix.
unfortunately did not go to the after party at the Ministry
of Information that night on the count of being sick that day.
From what I heard it was a wild night.
following night was the premiere of the employee appreciation
gore fests Rental and The Janitor. Rental was a wonderful short
about the hardships of working in a video rental store while
The Janitor was a darn good show with some really inventive
gore scenes and it teaches about the importance of tolerance
in a workplace better than any film I have ever seen.
are later treated to the Beach, Rock and Roll, Monster movie,
STOMP! SHOUT! SCREAM! This film featured a kick ass 60’s
style soundtrack with one of the coolest creatures ever created.
As good as the Janitor was, there is no competition when it
comes to the giant Skunk Ape.
next night we are treated to two short films and Pot Zombies…
The title says it all. These guys smoke something more than
Wacky Tobacky. The two shorts were the profoundly funny Portal
and the profoundly disturbing The Voice Inside. Lets just say,
after watching those shorts, you will never look at your toilet
or the hammer handle the same way again!
that was the Rock and Roll double feature which started with
All Kindsa Girls: an Evolutionary Tale Featuring the Real Kids.
This documentary was very well received by the audience. Likewise
with Rock and Roll Eulogy which was a hilarious and well made
homage to the 60’s mockumentary and a throwback to those
informational films that we all so loved when we were growing
next was the 70’s style kung fu epic, Harry Knuckles and
the Pearl Necklace, a winning combination of non-stop kung fu
action and laughs. It won over the crowd with its charm and
kick butt action and sent everyone into a laughing frenzy throughout
its entire running length. It was preceded by the original trailer
to the Harry Knuckles feature.
that was the most notorious of our screenings… The no
holds barred zombie kill fest, DIE, YOU ZOMBIE BASTARDS! Talk
about Audience participation, we had audiences throwing beer
cans at the screen and a royal rumble that started with an old
Kensington drunk taking swings at our staff members. Finally
due to audience pressure and their hard pressed need to turn
off the film, we succumbed to their demands. Honestly, I didn’t
see anything wrong with the film. I take it people went into
the screening thinking they were about to see The English Patient…
Well… Sorry to disappoint!
The chaos left several casualties, mostly stepped on beer cans
and flipped over tables. People fell over drunk and yours truly
carpooled those who were too drunk to stand either over to the
M Room where they could drink more or back home for their own
safety. Needless to say this prompted me to play Duran Duran’s
song, Chauffeur, each time I drove someone back and forth. Not
to mention, people slept in the back seat of my car while I
partied at the M Room that night.
was the presentation of the know thy zombie comedy, Livelihood,
a clever satire on what zombies would be like if they were friendly
and not the flesh eating beast they are always made out to be.
The showing went really well and it actually got me to reconsider
what it really was like to be a zombie… in fact, I threw
out my Resident Evil games in protest to the unfair treatment
day was then filled with short films and music videos of all
different kinds of genres… ranging from narrative to animation
to comedy sketches. The majority of the shorts were dominated
by SillyCon’s Sketches and Weinercop vs. Crockinator.
Undoubtedly, the best of the shorts was Bzzzzzzzzzzzz, from
the director of Harry Knuckles. Other shorts included Fuck Pillows….Which
I’ll let you use your imagination on what that one is
about. The festivities continued with more short films and music
videos and finally concluded with the highly controversial horror
exploitation flick, Pleasures of the Damned. This film sent
quite a few people out of the theater with shock with its explicit
violence and taboo content. The filmmaker’s family was
in attendance for the screening and they should be proud of
their kin’s legacy.
party didn’t stop there as the Backseat Crew and party
goers traveled to Whiskey Dix for a power packed after party
featuring Shiragirl and the Legendary Wid. On a side note, I
drove the Legendary Wid to and from the venue… But that’s
not all… He loaded my car to the hills with all his props
from his basement. Gotta give the guy props!
returning to the club, I got to see Doug dancing onstage with
Shiragirl in what can only be called, an unexpected onstage
started the last and final day of the festival with Irish American
Ninja, a chop socky satire about a, well, Irish American Ninja.
However, things really kick off with the second shorts program
… Starting with Doug Sakmann’s preview of the highly
anticipated Punk Rock Holocaust 2: Serial Bandicide. The second
shorts program also featured the Academy Award Nominated short,
Guard Dog by renowned animator, Bill Plympton and a really wonderfully
animated CG short titled Zoom Suit by John Taddeo. Along with
the serious accomplishments, we also had the laugh out loud,
or for those who only speak internet language, LOL, comedic
animated shorts by John Shock with the stop motion animated,
Mr. Happy Drives Drunk and the MS3TK style Rudolph the Terrorist
Reindeer. Both short films rocked the audiences with their humor.
This festival had a really pleasant surprise with the traditionally
animated short film, Pizza for Sprinkles, by one of our own,
Hilary Clark, who also edited the Bikini Bandits Booby Bowl
episodes which were also shown at the festival and had garnered
well over 100,000 viewings on IFILM.com.
festival also had some spectacularly gruesome horror shorts…
One of which was South Philly based filmmaker Mike Zaleski’s
Half Price Sale which honestly was a pretty grotesque albeit
well made film, and the stop motion animated shocker, my film,
Circle of Freaks. Both of us were available for Q&A after
our films were shown. While Mike’s lasted only a couple
of minutes, I literally stood for at least a good ten to fifteen
minutes. Not that I minded. But when you have laryngitis, talking
is the last thing you want to do… especially when you
sound like I do and the end result is something close to Mickey
Mouse on crack. Throughout the rest of the night, I had this
pipsqueak voice that everyone just seemed to love to imitate.
Another one that was shown was my personal favorite, Tattle
Tale Heart, a surreal adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s
Tell Tale Heart done with Puppets.
festival closed with the tragic documentary, Derailroaded, a
rather bleak look into the life of Larry “Wild man”
Fischer. At times the film was very funny and sometimes very
endearing and inspirational and at times, downright disturbing.
In short, it was a breathtaking ending for one of the wildest
film festivals out there.
festival came to a quiet and satisfying close at Tritone on
South Street. I backed up into another car and I didn’t
even bother to see if I knocked off their bumper.(well anyway)
Everyone pretty much drank and toasted to a very successful
week and a weeks worth of partying and movies that signify the
true spirit of independent cinema.
far as favorite movies, my personal favorite was the toss up
between Derailroaded and Harry Knuckles. While the Harry Knuckles
film had everything from action to comedy to pro wrestling,
I think I preferred Derailroaded. It was a very well done film
and it gave a great insight into man I have never heard of but
who has left an indelible and profound impact on some of my
idols. My very favorite film of the festival was the Edgar Allan
Poe inspired, Tattle Tale Heart. The short was a puppet retelling
of Poe’s short story, Tell Tale Heart. To me, it was undoubtedly
on of the greatest Poe adaptations I have ever seen with some
really astounding art direction and puppetry.
hard to say what my favorite night in that festival was…
all of them were awesome and I can honestly say that I have
partied more in those six days than I had my entire life…
(yes, I am a nerd… in fact I am wearing one of those You
know you are a Geek when…t shirts as I am writing this)
having been to other festivals throughout the past couple of
years, I can honestly say that nothing beats Backseat Film Fest
for its sheer energy and honesty in keeping to its independent