John DeVore of The Pulse appraised Chattanooga’s alternative film scene in The Pulse, and our upcoming Tennessee premiere of Korla: The Film was a big part of a big month of March for cinephiles. Our very special Saturday showing is made even sweeter by the participation of Tiki Ray’s with some fine, exotic libations being offerred.
Chattanooga film-lovers have lots of upcoming film events to support
This March appears to be the best time to be a film fan in Chattanooga. There are a slew of upcoming and exciting events in film, when as of late there have been few local events to attend.
Besides the Lookout Wild Film Festival, not much has happened in the film scene since the beginning of the year. There are plenty of Hollywood films to see, of course. Being a film critic is likely the easier of writing jobs as there is always something new to experience, some grand film to see. February saw the release of films like Deadpool and The Witch, both of which are worthwhile and fun films to see at the local multiplex.
But rather than being unique experiences, a trip to the movies for most of us is a way to pass time, something to do to avoid the dreary outdoors or speaking to our families for a few hours. Local events are something more—they are a chance to interact with likeminded people, some of whom we might not know, to experience a film or a documentary not found at a Carmike Cinema.
The recent announcement of Chattanooga’s own indie theater, Cine-Rama, will certainly help with that in the months going forward, but for now there are a few upcoming events that are not to be missed.
First up is, of course, the Chattanooga Film Festival. The CFF has the fun marketing strategy of releasing information in waves, dropping hints and announcing guests every week until the festival. The second wave of films has recently been announced, but more importantly, the CFF has announced the return of guest speaker and drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs.
Last year, Briggs was an absolute delight, delivering an overview of the South in film. It was, without a doubt, the best non-film event at last year’s festival and this year will likely be no different. Briggs will be delivering a new treatise in “Redneck Night,” a subject near and dear to the heart of southerners everywhere. Rednecks may not be exclusive to the South, or the United States for that matter, the impact of rednecks on film, according to Briggs, cannot be overstated. He argues that they, in fact, “saved the movie industry.”
Beyond Briggs, the CFF has announced an additional 16 films including Born to be Blue, a re-imagining of the life of jazz great Chet Baker starring Ethan Hawke, February, a thriller starring Emma Roberts and directed by Osgood Perkins, the son of the legendary Anthony Perkins (Psycho), and adventure documentary Meru, which chronicles the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin route on Meru Peak in the Indian Himalayas.
A full list of the second wave of films, as well as ticket information, can be found at ChattanoogaFilmFest.com.
Earlier than the film festival, however, is a unique event brought to Chattanooga by The Shaking Ray Levi Society. On March 12, at the Barking Legs Theater, The Shaking Ray Levi Society presents Exotic is Everywhere Part 1: Tiki/Exotica night featuring a showing of the documentary Korla.
The series itself aims to highlight “the invented musical genre of “exotica” from masters including Martin Denny and Les Baxter, an unmistakable visual aesthetic that drew from Polynesian origins, and tropical cocktails comprised of a blend of domestic and Caribbean rums and other spirits, fresh tropical juices, exotic spices, and handcrafted syrups, which were first concocted by the legendary entrepreneur, bon vivant and pop cultural archetype Don the Beachcomber.”
The Korla documentary, which is a Tennessee premier event, is “a revealing documentary about a television pioneer and a spiritual seeker…Korla Pandit, known as the “Godfather of Exotica.” The film also offers a surprising tale of racial reinvention: the turban-wearing Korla, who successfully passed as an Indian from New Delhi, was actually born in St. Louis and grew up in Columbia, Mo., as the son of an African-American minister.”
According to the Shaking Ray Levi Society, the documentary “covers the long arc of the musician’s career, from the 1950s, when he hosted his own music show on television in LA (while never speaking a word), to his later performing years, when he developed a cult following by playing tiki bars and lounges. His many fans included Carlos Santana and fellow organist Booker T of Booker T and the MGs. Film fans may recognize Korla from an appearance (playing himself) in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Throughout his life, Korla closely held the secret of his true identity, which wasn’t revealed until after his death in 1998.”
With events as wide and varied as these, the film community in Chattanooga couldn’t be stronger. All that’s needed is participation. Support local film.