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The Berlin International Film Festival comes around for the 60th time from February 11th to the 21st. This monster festival is broken into 7 sections, each with its own director. There are a ton of movies, I thought I should mention a few that sound interesting to me.

One Life, Maybe Two is another paratemporal story, in which a single event goes both ways, and the fork between worldlines explores each outcome. The premise matches up with Sliding Doors in that regard, but the kind of events explored are quite different. While I suspect no one is referencing the Spanish Inquisition in this one, I am looking forward to seeing it some day.

Another film worth noting is Shutter Island, a rather surreal film about a disappearing mass murderess who may have escaped from a psychiatric prison. The talent involved with this film includes names like Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, and Max von Sydow, and the trailer looks great. This one is not just for the film festivals; it goes into public release on the weekend of the 18th/19th of February.

There are a few other films you might want to check out. Howl has been making the festival circuits, a DocuDrama about the Ginsburg obscenity trial in 1957. That was the birthplace of the American Counterculture movement, and everything that it evolved into over the following 50 plus years. This film includes a presentation of the poem itself, which more than anything else puts into perspective just how far we have come since then.

And Ginsburg begat Dury; so how appropriate this festival also includes Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, a film format reconstruction of Ian Dury’s biography, showing how he became key to the development of Punk and New Wave music, and the culture they spawned. He influenced The Clash, The Pretenders and the Sex Pistols to name just a few. He toured the US with Elvis Costello and Lou Reed back in the seventies. As the title of the film (it is also the title of his smash hit song) might make you suspect, he really was on the direct line of decent from Ginsburg, and was a major influence on the development of his segment of the Counterculture.

And Ginsberg begat Warhol and Waters; also in the 70s, No Wave film making was born in New York City, mostly in the low-income parts of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The movie Blank City does a good job of presenting just how intense this Counterculture cauldron became, and what kind of film movements it spawned.

Wish I could be in Berlin for this fest, but I guess I will just have to cheer them on from here.

This week brings us one of the monster festivals of the year, the Sundance Film Festival from the 21st to the 31st. As always with Sundance, there are a ton of great films and workshops to attend, but there are two that look particularly interesting. The first would be Splice, a story of genetic engineering and its consequences, while the 2nd is Pumzi, a story of restoring the Earth to support life after WWIII. In the Comedy category we have Tucker & Dale vs Evil, which shows you what is really happening in all those Texas Chainsaw derived movies, and for the documentary side, Life 2.0 leads the pack with a representation of one of my favorite segments of virtual reality.

Other films worth noting include Howl, an experiment in film making showing the the birth of a counterculture, All My Friends Are Funeral Singers for the musically oriented, and the entire Drunk History series, of which my favorite is Drunk History: Tesla & Edison. There are about 20 more films I feel the need to mention, but if I don’t stop now, I may never do so.

Another festival running from the 22nd to the 24th is the Trail Dance Film Festival in Duncan, OK. Ready Teddy looks like a fun one there, with the story of how the Beatles kidnapped Elvis (yes, that comes under the heading of Alternate History).

Weather is moving in, so I may not get to see Avatar in my local theater on opening day. But since William Gibson inspired me to post some music yesterday, I thought it might to be fun to post a bit more today, this time recommended by Wil Wheaton from his Radio Free Burrito podcast. The band Monsters from Mars may not be posting many new tracks these days, but I sure like the old ones.

I just noticed that John Scalzi posted some of his favorite music videos today as well, and there are some great tunes there.

Speaking of old audio tracks, anyone remember Lord Buckley? With his classic poems from Hipsters, Flipsters, and Finger Poppin Daddies, knock me your lobes, to The Naz, to Gods Own Drunk, and many more, he was the precursor that ushered in everyone from William Burroughs to Lenny Bruce around 1950 or so (Buckley started recording about 1940). In the process, he singlehandedly invented the language of the Beat Generation, and introduced Jack Kerouac to stream of consciousness poetry, Allen Ginsberg to free-form rhyme, and cheered on Neal Cassady as he also created a unique variation on what it was to be an American Beat. Neal never wrote anything, as near as I can remember; he was just the quiet center around which everyone else kept writing, and doing, and evolving, using him for their inspiration.

One of my favorite film festivals is Sci-Fi London, which will be coming around again from April 28th to May 3rd, 2010. If you build your own Science Fiction or Fantasy, be it live action or animated, they would like to see your film and consider including it in their festival. Submissions are now open at their web site; if you want to get an idea of the kinds of things they will accept, check their TV segment and watch some videos.

Likewise, on this side of the pond, the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival coming up February 5 – 15th, 2010, is also looking for submissions. In fact, they are almost done, but you still have time to get your film in (just) with the regular deadline on November 30, and the late deadline on December 15.

The New York City Horror Fest starts off tomorrow with the Kick Off Party at BLVD, Five bands / 11 Films / One hour free beer!, and runs through the 22nd. One of the interesting things they are doing is the Killer Shorts Sudden Death Film Competition in cooperation with the Monster Mania Collectibles Con held semi-annually in NYC. The opening band has songs called things like “Video Vixen Vampire”, “Mermaids in Outer Space”, and “Spooks on the Loose”; I would probably have spent more time watching Witches In Bikinis than the actual movies.

I should also mention that the Sundance Film Festival (No, that is NOT this weekend) just announced the Sundance Film Festival U.S.A., where they will be presenting festival films in other cities around the country on the 28th of January.