Contact: Margot Gerber

323/461-2020, ext. 115

August 17, 2001







WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP With Short "Helicopter" (Sept. 13)

& GANG TAPES (Sept. 20)


HOLLYWOOD – In September, the American Cinematheque’s THE ALTERNATIVE SCREEN: INDEPENDENT FILM SHOWCASE presents the LA PREMIERES of two new independent feature films. A screening of James Marsh’s WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP (Cinemax/BBC Arena, 1999, 76 min.) will take place on Thursday, September 13th at 7:30 PM. Based on Michael Lesy’s 1973 book of the same title, Marsh’s unusual film consists of haunting reenactments of a series of human catastrophes that occurred in a small Wisconsin town in the last decade of the 1800’s. Preceding the feature is Ari Gold’s Student Academy award-winning short film "Helicopter" (21 min.). Following a helicopter crash a young man tries to remember his mother’s face. Producer Maureen A. Ryan will appear with director James Marsh following the screening. On Thursday, September 20th at 7:30 PM is Adam Ripp’s GANG TAPES (80 min., 2001, USA), a riveting chronicle of a young teen’s assimilation into African American gang life in South Central LA, as captured through the lens of a video camera the boy obtains in a car-jacking. Adam Ripp & producer David Goodman will appear for discussion with cast and crew members following the screening. This evening is co-presented with the IFP/West’s Festival Buzz series. The IFP/West will host a beverage reception for all ticket buyers following the screening. All guests are subject to their availability. All screenings are at the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood (between Las Palmas Ave. & McCadden Place).


WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP (1999, 76 min.): Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001 @ 7:30 PM

Despite narrator Ian Holm’s opening claim that "Nowhere can be found a more charming residence," picturesque Black River Falls, Wisconsin in the 1890’s, was "Either some weird plague-stricken hole in an otherwise unblemished American tapestry, or else the whole notion of America’s proud past is a myth." (Luc Sante, Bookforum) Based on Michael Lesy’s book of the same title, director James Marsh renders a wry documentary portrait of this German/Scandinavian settled small town where incidents of suicide, murder, madness, infanticide, and other socially unacceptable mayhem dominate the Badger State Banner newspaper for a decade (coinciding with the economic depression that hit in 1893 and the ravage of a Diphtheria epidemic). These real life accounts read like a litany of human catastrophe invented by Edward Gorey: a cocaine-sniffing schoolmistress who travels the state on a bizarre window breaking quest; a bored teenage girl arsonist; persons possessed by religious fervor who engage in heinous deeds; a 9-year-old who kills his sister while playing with the family gun; and two pre-pubescent runaway brothers who, incited by "the outlaw image" -- murder an old farmer – and live in his house all summer until the law catches up with them. And these are just a few of the grim tales illustrating how "many lives cracked like thin glass in the cold" (David Thomson), at once dispelling the legend of the hardy pioneer and the notion that society has only just corrupted in the modern age. This official selection of the Telluride and San Francisco Film Festivals is a combination of haunting vintage photography and impeccably stylized (B&W) reenactments that give the incredible appearance of period photography in motion. Produced by Maureen A. Ryan.

In The Independent (UK), David Thomson proclaimed, "I doubt you will see a more important American film this year." Variety called the film "…a Victorian "Twin Peaks." In the The New York Times, Greil Marcus wrote, "… a distant story from a century ago that with the force of prophecy seems to rush forward to our time and past it. And in the New York Post, Jonathan Foreman commented, "A gorgeously photographed, highly original film."

With short film, Ari Gold’s "Helicopter" (21 min.) This autobiographical tale made at NYU’s film school, combines live action and animation to express the filmmaker’s experience of losing his 47-year-old mother in a helicopter crash. The 20 year companion of legendary rock promoter Bill Graham (The Grateful Dead, Springsteen), she perished with Graham when their helicopter struck an electrical tower in 1991. Her memorial was a huge concert for the three crash victims, but focused primarily on the mega-famous Graham. Gold recalls the surrealness of grieving in such a public forum. The film’s composer Ethan Gold will appear for discussion following the film.

Screening cassettes, press kits and B&W photos are available to press. New York based filmmakers James Marsh and Maureen A. Ryan are available for interview. For more information about the film see Since our booking of this film, there is a pending Los Angeles limited theatrical run immediately following this screening. Previously WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP enjoyed a popular run at New York’s Film Forum. "Helicopter" is also available for review. For more information see


 GANG TAPES (2001, 80 min., USA): Thursday, September 20, 2001 @ 7:30 PM

Co-Presented with IFP/West Festival Buzz

Adam Ripp’s directorial debut (he produced X-MEN director Bryan Singer’s directorial debut PUBLIC ACCESS) depicts the unsettling juxtaposition between horror and happiness in everyday life in South Central Los Angeles -- a world where stepping out of your front door is a life-threatening risk, and any slight is met with brutal retaliation, in the constant war for turf and respect. When Kris (Trivell), a bright 13-year-old boy, acquires a video camera after a car-jacking, he turns it on himself, his family and the older gangbangers he strives to join, to create a refreshingly, realistic and provocative portrait of

African American gang life. Devoid of the preachiness of Hollywood ‘Hood pictures, Kris’ startling "video diary" chronicles a summer of chaos and turmoil, where a young man is transformed from childish onlooker, into a hardened gangster, deeply entrenched in the problems of the gang. Cyril (Darontay McClendon), a recent ex-con, ruled by anger and Alonzo (Darris Love), an expectant father with some semblance of humanity, are two charismatic gangsters who serve as Kris’ role models. The authentically portrayed pair are splitting the gang’s loyalties as they battle with each other. "GANG TAPES manages to pull off a conceit previously thought to be tapped-out in both theme and execution. …pic’s convincingly natural performances and faux-amateur presentation create a potent, non-judgmental look at how violence breeds violence in one underprivileged community." (Dennis Harvey, VARIETY) Ron Wells of Film Threat wrote, "It's a strong, powerful work that while under 90 minutes, will take you much longer to shake off."

The film’s script, co-penned by Ripp and Steven Wolfson, was culled from hours of conversations with gang members and their families and improvisations with the actors (who were cast from the South Central Community). The film recently played the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. Produced by David Goodman and Ripp. Cast & Crew discussion and reception hosted by IFP/West will follow the screening.

Los Angeles based filmmakers Adam Ripp and David Goodman are available for interview. Press kits, photos and screening cassettes are available for press preview.

For press credentials send a fax on letterhead from your outlet stating that you have a specific assignment to cover, and when the coverage will appear. If your outlet is not known to us, please include a paragraph describing your outlet’s circulation and focus. Press requests not faxed in on time cannot be honored. For details see our website for press policies. Directors are available for interview.

General admission price: $8. Sr./Student rate is $7 and Cinematheque Members are $6. Programs listed as double features are one price for both films. There will be a 5-7 minute intermission between programs (or longer if a Q & A is scheduled in between the screenings).

The Alternative Screen: A Forum For Independent Film Exhibition And Beyond…, the American Cinematheque’s on-going series focusing on independent and new forms of cinema was created to serve the public as well as the independent film community in Los Angeles by providing a year-round venue for independent feature films that have not yet secured wide commercial distribution. Whatever the ALTERNATIVE SCREEN offers from month to month, it promises to be provocative, innovative and fiercely independent. Select Alternative Screen alumni include THE BIBLE & GUN CLUB, HABIT, STAR MAPS, OUR SONG and THE LAST BIG THING. For information about IFP/West please call 310.475.4379 or see

The Alternative Screen takes on-going submissions for consideration of fiercely independent work in all genres. Please send a 1/2" tape to: Margot Gerber, The Alternative Screen, c/o American Cinematheque, 1800 N. Highland Avenue, Suite 717, Hollywood, CA., 90028. Include a SASE if you would like your tape returned. Inquiries should be directed to 323.461.2020, ext. 115. Short films should be sent to the attention of Andrew Crane.

For information about the Alternative Screen or other American Cinematheque events, please call 323.466-FILM. THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

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American Cinematheque, 1800 N. Highland Avenue, Suite 717,

Hollywood, CA 90028 tel (323) 466-3456 fax (323) 461.9737


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