Sunday, August 9, 2009

Short films under the stars

The Henry Miller Library's 4th annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series is drawing to a close this month, as Big Sur's cultural scene achieves its late-summer climax. Every Thursday evening, from June through Labor Day, we gather on the lawn for the best kind of armchair travel, into the hearts of people all over the world.

Who says we are stuck in the boonies, a bunch of hicks at the end of the road? It's certainly not the case this century. The Henry Miller Library and the Big Sur Spirit Garden make countless offerings to our community's cultural life all year long, but especially in the summertime.

Short films, Flamenco classes, singing lessons, concerts, open mikes, art shows, book tours, it's all here, on stages under the redwoods at the Library or in the mural filled sculpture garden at Loma Vista. Plus, in various locations, there are political discussion groups involving the ongoing advocacy of saving our state parks, local musicians performing at restaurants, and the occasional unforgettable memorial.

Since so many of us are now reading our emails, checking social networking sites and (god help us) "twittering", no one misses a beat. I remember asking my elderly neighbor what they did before radio down here in Big Sur, before satellite dishes, cell phones, the Internet. "Well," he replied, "there was always ice cream."

The ball is rolling now and most would say there's an ongoing spike in cultural choices throughout Big Sur, from the Soul River Studio's Film Series, to Big Sur Arts Initiative's Stagekids Theatre Program, to private dinner parties, pool parties, and theme parties involving copious amounts of Tequila (don't ask.) Well, sometimes it's a bit much (as they say on that tiny island in the Atlantic that my husband comes from.)

It's getting to the point where I feel guilty for staying at home and drooling in the sun on my yoga mat. I have so much to read, darn it, and so much to learn (and at this late date I have to learn fast) and so many, many distractions. Not to mention ice cream to eat.

That said, the lure of the epiphany of the short film (and the fabulous popcorn) draws me regularly to the Henry Miller Library series. Last week was especially gratifying: the closing film was Kroeskop (Absolutely Afro) from the Netherlands. Is it possible that my life could be forever altered in just 10 minutes? I think so, and this little cinematic gem did it. Just remembering its ineffable innocence makes me smile.

Then last night, I saw a woman emerge from a shining chrysalis, to dance on stage triumphantly in glowing, enormous wings (everyone should have a pair.) She recalled ancient Ma'at, the Egyptian goddess of Truth, and appeared in my dreams, of a golden summer season in the Sur.

The deliberately low-brow opening cartoon at the HML
World's BEST popcorn by "the popcorn girl"

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