Pick of the Day: Team Picture
Local filmmaker Kentucker Audley (aka Andrew Nenninger, a product of the fertile local film scene that grew up around Cooper-Young's Memphis Digital Arts Cooperative), rose to prominence at Indie Memphis a couple of years ago, with his award-winning short Bright Sunny South, which went on to screen at the Slamdance Film Festival. Tonight, Audley unveils his debut feature, Team Picture, which has already screened as part of "emerging filmmaker" series in New York and Boston. For more on Audley and his movie, see our feature story in this week's paper. -- Chris Herrington
Screens at 8:05 p.m.
Local Pick: The Delta
Before there was Craig Brewer, there was Ira Sachs. The Memphis-bred filmmaker, who shared Sundance glory with Brewer with his grand-jury-prize winning Forty Shades of Blue, shot his first feature in Memphis more than a decade ago. The Delta, about the relationship between an affluent white teenager and the immigrant son of a poor Vietnamese woman and black GI, became a film-festival hit upon its 1996 release. It screens here as part of Indie Memphis' "Back in the Day" selection of local filmmaking that predates the beginning of the festival. Sachs is scheduled to attend the screening. -- CH
Screens at 5:55 p.m.
Doc Pick: Hell on Wheels
The renaissance of roller derby -- its latest, at least -- began in Austin in 2000. The league that would one day become TXRD, founded as Bad Girl, Good Woman Productions, initially split into four teams: the Hellcats, the Putas Del Fuego, the Rhinestone Cowgirls, and the Holy Rollers.
For fans of A&E's reality show Rollergirls, it's a familiar narrative, and Hell on Wheels might be considered the backstory. There are certainly some familiar faces: Sister Mary Jane, Veruca Assault, Luna, and Cha Cha. But Hell on Wheels tells the story of all of the Texas rollergirls from the very beginning.
As roller derby has spread across the county, the mantra of many flat-track leagues is "for the skaters, by the skaters." Instead of having a benefactor or an owner, the leagues strive to be skater-owned and operated. And Hell on Wheels explains exactly why that is.
Two years into its existence, 65 of BGGW's 80 skaters left the organization en masse. The leagueâs four managers, calling themselves She-E-Os, held control of the league. The skaters wanted more input in league decisions. And like the rollergirls they are, neither side would back down. The result of the derby divorce was two leagues: TXRD with its banked track and the Texas Rollergirls, identified in the film as TXRG, on the flat track.
Though it includes its share of derby drama, the film is not just a verbal catfight. Coming in at just under 90 minutes (or the amount of time needed for your average bout), Hell on Wheels jams in as much on-the-track action as off the track. The filmmakers include a fair amount of practices, bout footage, and some really horrifying injuries.
But in the end, it tells the story of how a counter-culture was reborn. -- Mary Cashiola
Screens at 7:25 p.m.
Shorts Pick: Help is Coming
The experimental short film Help is Coming tracks three adolescent African-American boys as they walk through the detritus of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the blueish-gray tint enlivened by stray bursts of color. The boys wear masks of Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Ray Nagin as they walk past such surreally unnerving sites as two horses pulling an automobile, a school bus smashed against a wall, a beheaded Christ statue. Shot in the lower 9th Ward over the course of three days in late December, 2005, this 8 minute experimental film seems clearly inspired by Killer of Sheep and/or George Washington (and you could sure do worse for inspiration), but has a weight all its own.
Help is Coming screens as part of the festival's "Shorts Program 3" alongside a mix of local and non-local shorts. Among the local films of note are No Shades of Gray, Jon Sparks' musical interpretation of the Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas' assault on Memphis in May for inviting Three 6 Mafia to perform, and Conversion Tactics, a sharp little animated consideration of the pagan roots of Christmas from Live From Memphis' Sarah Fleming and Christopher Reyes. -- CH
Screens at 5:15 p.m.