Sam Green has been making award-winning short documentaries since the late 1990s. This program gathers together for the first time an evening-length program of Green’s short films, ranging from a portrait of the world’s largest shopping mall in Southern China, which is actually completely empty (Utopia, Part 3), to an elegy for Meredith Hunter, the young man who was killed by Hell’s Angels at the notorious 1969 Altamont concert (lot 63, grave c). Other films from the program include: The Fabulous Stains: Behind the Movie, the remarkable story of the cult film directed by Lou Adler in 1982. The Universal Language is a portrait of Esperanto, an artificial language that was created in the late 1800s with the hope of creating world peace, and the worldwide movement of people who still speak it. Running through Green’s films is a celebration of idealism and the search for meaning along with the often humorous realities of human folly.
Utopia Part 3: the World’s Largest Shopping Mall – 13:08, 2009
Pie Fight ’69 – 8:03, 2000
The Fabulous Stains: Behind the Movie – 11:00, 1999
lot 63, grave c – 9:47, 2006
N-Judah 5:30 – 3:18, 2004
Clear Glasses – 4:13, 2008
The Universal Language – 30:00, 2011
Sarah Jacobson (1971–2004) was a legendary San Francisco underground filmmaker, as well as a great pal and inspiration. Sarah was extremely passionate about things––when she was interesting in something, she made the world stand up and take notice. In the early 2000s, Sarah become obsessed with the 1981 cult film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. I had never even heard of the movie, but when Sarah showed me a bootlegged VHS copy, it blew my mind. The Fabulous Stains is definitely one of the weirdest movies ever made, but weird in a fascinating way! The congruence of people and social forces that came together in the film, not to mention the ambition and failure and all that…
Anyway, Sarah pitched doing a piece about The Stains to John Pierson, who had a TV show about indie film on some cable channel at that time. John liked Sarah and loved the idea for the piece––I think he’d actually even shown The Stains way back in the early 1980s.
Sarah didn’t have a lot of experience with documentary, so she asked me to work with her on the project. It ended up being a real collaboration, and I learned a lot from Sarah. She was meticulous about music editing, and also had very strong opinions in the edit room. Needless to say, we fought! But we had a great time making the piece, and I still think of it, and my time working with Sarah, fondly.
And thanks entirely to Sarah’s tireless championing of The Stains, in 2008 Rhino recently re-released it.