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Fighting for peace

Upstate Films to screen My So-Called Enemy, Fightville and Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah

by Ann Hutton
June 09, 2011 12:36 PM | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Still from Lisa Gossels’ My So-Called Enemy
Adolescence is a time when lifelong friendships are cemented. It’s also a period during which cultural prejudices are either fastened tight or thrown off like yesterday’s fashions. Teenagers are notorious for questioning authority – perhaps never more vehemently than when their lives are on the line for doing so.

My So-Called Enemy is one of those documentaries that you want certain heads-of-state to be compelled to watch. Already, it has garnered awards at the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Starz Denver Film Festival, and is stirring up complex reactions in viewers wherever it’s screened.

Based on the experiences of six young women – Israeli and Palestinian/Israeli – who came to New Jersey in July 2002 to participate in a women’s leadership program called Building Bridges for Peace, the film tells the story of these “enemy” teens who begin to know each other as human beings. It then tracks them back home in the Middle East for seven years, exposing both the depth of their relationships and the difficulties of maintaining meaningful connections in an arena of war and strife.

Co-presented with the Hudson Valley Programmers’ Group, My So-Called Enemy will be screened at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck on Sunday, June 12 for the matinée. The director, Lisa Gossels, will do an in-depth question-and-answer session with the audience after the screening. Tickets cost $10. See www.mysocalledenemy.com for more information about this film.

Directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker will be on hand in Rhinebeck when their film Fightville is screened on Saturday, June 25 for the matinée. Yell “Fight!” on a streetcorner and a crowd comes running. Two men fighting is as old as civilization itself, yet remains at odds with the notion of a civil society.

Over the last decade, Mixed Martial Arts have grown from a controversial, no-holds-barred gladiatorial sideshow into a billion-dollar phenomenon. Fightville documents the raw determination, the victories and the heartbreak of the combat sport of fighting, carried out in sweat-soaked gyms across America to reveal “a microcosm of life where men are not born but built through self-determination, hard work and faith.”

Anyone so inclined might want to encounter these camera-close scenes of physical combat before stepping into the cage for real. Others not so inclined (a probable majority) can get their vicarious fix as witnesses to these very personal battles for glory.

Tickets for Fightville cost $15, and proceeds will benefit the O+ Festival, a grassroots effort to create a bridge where the art of medicine meets the medicine of art. See www.opositivefestival.org for more information about this year’s event on October 7, 8 and 9.

Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah is the true story of a doomed poet whose songs were sung by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Lyle Lovett and Joe Nichols, and whose own life was as down-home and downtrodden as a country song. Foley, a colorful-but-flawed character, was said to have been born in a treehouse and was murdered at the age of 39 while defending an elderly friend. With bookends like that, the short life of a bona fide Texas legend is material just waiting to be documented.

The film was, in fact, 12 years in the making. Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah offers the intimate portrait of an artist who struggled for recognition and died long before he could realize it. Filmmaker Kevin Triplett will do a question-and-answer session with the audience after the screening, and musician Gurf Morlix, who hung, played and performed with the Austin-based songwriter, will perform. Morlix wrote of Blaze Foley: “A soulful, passionate singer/songwriter. Champion of the downtrodden. Friend of the working girl. Truth-seeker. Atmospheric disturbance. Tender caring person with a big ol’ bag of deep-rooted troubles stuffed down into one of his pockets. Blaze could cut right through the bullshit, or he could be the cause of it. The funniest person I ever met, and also the most tragic.”

Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah will be screened in Woodstock on Sunday, June 26; call for time. Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 for Upstate Films members. Listen to Morlix’s latest album, a tribute to Blaze Foley, at www.gurfmorlix.com/music.html.

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