Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chelsea on the Rocks at Doc Fest

Friday October 17, 2008.  Opening night of Doc Fest.  

Abel Ferrara's Chelsea on the Rocks made a wonderful selection for opening night film, very timely and apropos for San Francisco.  This quirky, semi-vérité, semi-docudrama, multiple-format documentary film really stokes the fires of bitterness as corporate greed and management consume and destroy the living, beating heart of a building which has housed artists, writers, and musicians for over one hundred years.  Like the post-ordinateur San Francisco, why suffer an indigenous population of struggling artists to live in units which can be rented for $250-900 a night?  

The appearances of many famous artists, writers, and musicians are disguised by not having introductory subtitles.  As a result, you're not bombarded by résumés, but allowed to appreciate idiosyncratic artists for their own eccentricities.  

You know, if you go to Paris, great artists and writers are no longer to be found at Café de Flore either.  It is just for tourists.  It is a bygone era.

You can preserve a building.  Sadly it is more difficult to preserve the human element, especially those on the fringes of an urban society increasingly interested in war and money, and not trifling things like art and culture.

Ironically this film is sure to increase interest in a night's stay at the Chelsea, for those who can afford it.  Come and meet the artists you're pushing out.  Then again, maybe it will keep you in Manhattan and out of Bushwick for a while.

1 comment:

Ernest Hardy said...

I'm dying to see this film. I read an interview Abel did with (I think) the NY Times a few weeks ago and it really sparked my interest.

Where goes culture? At this moment that is such a crucial question, and most of the media outlets (especially those claiming to be "alternative") to which we have traditionally turned to be gatekeepers and nurturers of culture are now part of the problem of gentrification and co-option.