Now Playing! Other Cinema Zooms in on a San Francisco Background

Still from 'In the Red,' 1979, co-directed by Liz Keim and Karen Merchant. (Courtesy of Other Cinema)

San Franciscans, even more than Angelenos, Manhattanites and Chicagoans, love to indulge in image-based, nostalgia-steeped, urban archaeology.

From Rick Prelinger’s annual compilations of midcentury home movies to the location-spotting inherent in Elliot Lavine and Eddie Muller’s film noir and “B” movie showcases, we never tire of seeing how the city looked when men wore hats and cars had tailfins. Heck, I bet that half the people who revisit Vertigo at its annual (or is it quarterly?) Castro revival wish Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart would move aside so they could get a better look at the way things were in 1950s San Francisco.

Other Cinema was well aware, even before gentrification hit the Mission, that our culture’s dominant impulse is to build atop and paint over our history. Longtime curator and underground impresario Craig Baldwin pushes back with Psycho-Geo1: SF (Saturday, Feb. 24 at 8:30pm), a multi-angled compendium of San Francisco landscapes. Drawing on stills from the 1949 noir Thieves’ Highway and a slew of other deep-cover sources, invaluable local film writer, historian and all-around maven Brian Darr revisits the blacklisting of director Jules Dassin and the rest of the Hollywood Ten. In their wittily titled San Faux Cisco, David Cox and Molly Hankwitz (aka Bivoulab) take us for a spin around the city as it’s conjured in video games and other imaginary digital manifestations.

Poster from Jules Dassin's 'Thieves Highway,' 1949.
Poster from Jules Dassin's 'Thieves Highway,' 1949. (Courtesy of Other Cinema)

Grounding the evening’s excursions -- which include a fistful of short experimental and documentary portraits of various pieces of S.F.’s colorful history -- is a heart-stopping hunk of punk. In the Red, Liz Keim and Karen Merchant’s 1979 record of the community, music and fashion that sprung up around Mabuhay Gardens, melds interviews, live performances and hallowed views of North Beach and beyond. Yeah, the city’s changed a lot, but don’t let it bring you down: Punk’s not dead.

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