By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
6. DIRTY HANDS: THE LIFE & CRIMES OF DAVID CHOE
About two minutes into Harry Kim’s tag-along documentary, the LA street artist is already loathsome. But audiences are treated to so many quick cuts and eye candy (thank you, ADHD-addled MTV generation!) that they should stick with it another 91 minutes. Back and forth across oceans, from 2000 to 2007, Kim captures Choe vandalizing, confessing, exploiting, fucking and fucking up. Maybe you’ve seen his giant whales and faces on the sides of Southland freeways. He also laps up the praise of commercial art buyers, the porn magazines that gave him his start and fellow street artists like Shepard Fairey of Obey fame. By the time Choe’s many stints in jail are capped by a year of solitary in Japan, it is clear he is what the experts call “flipping nuts.” (The film explains it as near-schizophrenia, or some shit.) He’s still a dick, sure, but, come on: He’s sick! Therefore, you must root for him, although it’s his girlfriend you pity most. Put this flick in a time capsule in case Choe creates a masterwork, really goes over the edge, or both. (MC) Edwards Island 4, (949) 640-1218. Fri., April 24, 5:30 p.m.
7. BLUE GOLD: WORLD WATER WARS
Based on the book by Maude Barlow, the documentary by Irvine’s Sam Bozzo begins with a very sober explanation of what happens to a human body that goes one week without water (don’t try this at home, kids). His camera then goes around the world and into the faces of talking heads to damn our planet’s looming water crisis. We’re talking shortages, corporate corruption and wars already being mapped out in the halls of power. The naysaying grows wearisome because the other side, no matter how defenseless, is not asked Blue Gold’s underlying question: Does anyone have the right to deny someone else a precious resource required for life? If the answer is yes, look next for Sparkletts oxygen trucks rumbling into your office park. (MC) Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center, 2301 University Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 923-2290. Sun., April 26, 11:30 a.m.; Edwards Island 4, (949) 640-1218. Mon., April 27, 7:30 p.m.
8. CENTER STREET RISING
This true story is the stuff of good drama: A boxing coach who gives his life over to a rickety boxing club in the heart of one of Santa Ana’s troubled neighborhoods—and to the two poor young boxers who rise above it all and get a shot at going to the Olympics. Director Tracy Sabeti and the group of local producers who made this half-hour documentary short about TKO Boxing Club obviously saw the story’s potential and tried their best to tell it well. We hear from the pugilists, their coaches and community members who love what the club is doing for kids who might otherwise join gangs. The film could do with fewer fluffy sound bites, a less-obtrusive score and more intimate, sustained examinations of its most compelling characters. These include pro boxer Luis Ramos, who lives in a tiny home with his Guatemalan parents and who narrowly missed qualifying for the 2010 Olympics; young pro boxer Ronny Rios (see the Weekly cover story “Ronny,” Aug. 2, 2007), who was raised by a single mother in a tiny trailer park, climbed to national championship status in just a few short years and came within a hair of making the Olympics; and their hyper-driven, volunteer coach Hector Lopez, who was once a boxer himself, has no sons and works tirelessly to build the kids into top boxers (and students). Despite its shortcomings, Center Street Rising shines a rare, positive light on the gem that is the TKO Boxing Club and the endless hours of volunteer training and kid-mentoring done by its founders and coaches. (Daffodil J. Altan) Edwards Island 2, (949) 640-1218. Wed., April 29, 6 p.m.
9. SAVING THE BOOM
How would you begin a documentary short on a doomed gay bar? With same-sex couples soaking in strobe lights and dancing to loud thumpa-thumpa-thumpa disco? Then you, mister, think just like producer/director John Keitel, whose camera goes on to chronicle the sad demise of the world-famous Boom Boom Room. When the center of gay nightlife in Laguna Beach (if not all of Orange County) is sold and slated for redevelopment in its 61st year, longtime resident Fred Karger mounts a campaign to stop the wrecking ball. Keitel follows Boomers into the streets, local businesses and outside the Century City offices of AIG Insurance, the parent company of a firm presided over by a partner (with or without Brad Pitt and George Clooney) who purchased the building the Boom was in and surrounding properties in 2005. Refreshingly, Karger and co. encounter more supporters than foes, although a man who only identifies himself as a 30-year resident of the village tells Save the Boom petition circulators, “This cause is an abomination to God, I gotta tell ya.” When it becomes obvious that chap’s God won this round, closing night is marked in typical Boom fashion: same-sex couples soaking in strobe lights and dancing to loud thumpa-thumpa-thumpa disco. (MC) Edwards Island 2, ?(949) 640-1218. Tues., April 28, 2 p.m.
10. HIS GOOD WILL
This short film from director Cayman Grant finds Will (Donis Leonoard Jr.), a poor little black boy, collecting bottles anywhere he can find them in a small town on a hot summer day in the 1950s. After turning his bounty in for spare change from Mr. Cooper (James Avery), Will goes to a diner filled with white customers and waitresses for a plate of “fried potatoes.” Don’t watch what ensues if watery eyes and a lumpy throat bother you. (MC) Edwards Island 2, (949) 640-1218. Fri., April 24, 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are generally $8 to $12 per screening, although it’s $125 for the Lymelife opening-night screening and party, or $80 for the party alone. Call (949) 253-2880 or log on to newportbeachfilmfest.com for tickets and other festival details. Read more reviews of NBFF films on our staff blog, Navel Gazing.