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.