Artists' Television Access

[email protected]: Always For Pleasure & Homegrown

Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 6:30 pm

Screening a Noe Valley Library ( 451 Jersey St, SF)

Always For Pleasure (Les Blank, 1978) 58 minutes
One of the most infectiously joyous non-fiction films ever made, Always For Pleasure marked award-winning Berkeley documentarian Les Blank’s return to New Orleans, where he’d studied literature and theatre before beginning his film education in California. His camera lovingly captures Mardis Gras 1977 as well as other Springtime celebrations, being prepared for and celebrated by Louisianans of all walks of life. From the simmering of mouth-watering cajun cuisine, to the creation and parading of the incredibly flamboyant fashions of the “Mardis Gras Indians,” it’s a feast for the eyes. We hear about the historical underpinnings of many of the traditions still being practiced today, but mostly we get to listen to a wonderful selection of New Orleans music by the likes of Professor Longhair, Frankie Ford and the Wild Tchoupitoulas with the Neville Brothers. A cinematic gumbo, part concert film, part cooking how-to, and all heart, Always For Pleasure hasn’t lost its power to literally and figuratively move audiences more than forty years after its first release.  We’ll enhance the presentation of a gorgeous color print by trying a variation on Blank’s own recipe for a “Smell-Around” presentation, augmenting the sound and visual impact with a pleasant engagement of at least one of the other five senses.

preceded by:
Homegrown (Ben Van Meter, 1970) 23 minutes
In the late 1960s filmmaker Ben Van Meter was a household name among local aficionados of images able to match the unfettered spirit of the psychedelic sound and ethos. He made the definitive film record of the primordial San Francisco hippie event, 1966’s Tripps Festival, was a founding director of experimental film distribution co-op Canyon Cinema, and collaborated with Bruce Conner and Kenneth Anger. His outfit the North American Ibis Alchemical Company was hired by the Avalon Ballroom to create light shows to accompany concerts by The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and countless out-of-town acts. Homegrown was perhaps his most autobiographical film, both engaging with his family’s Southern roots and presenting a snapshot of his adopted home of Bolinas, where we see a Fourth of July parade, a beach clean-up, and much more. Because Van Meter used an iconic song of the era on the soundtrack without official permission from any record company, this has become one of the most difficult of his films to see, but the library’s 16mm prints still retains good color.

Leave a Reply