Friday, August 15, 2008

Help Save Cinema Revolution

For readers in the Minneapolis area:

If you are like me, you enjoy a good cup of coffee, a nice tumbler of whiskey, rain storms, and movies. Particularly movies that are not going to be found at your local Blockbuster. Also you probably enjoy all of these things at locally run businesses (damn those FOXNEWS sponsored thunderstorms...).

This isn't just a random rant about something that pissed me off so stick with me here.

I frequented Cinema Revolution for many years (it's actually just off to the side of many of the pictures on this site), it's easily one of the best video stores (if not the best) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and they are in trouble. The store is having some financial difficulties and I thought I'd throw something up in hopes that you value what John and Cinema Revolution do for the community as much as I do. The store is run by volunteers who support film screenings around town, host cinema discussion evenings, allow you to rent local filmmakers (often for free) and have a selection that no one else in town can compare to. So here's a little bit of an e-mail John Koch (owner) sent out to some today, about why Cinema Revolution is important:

We believe that a local store run by live local people is something of value - a store that curates film as a gallery would curate any other form of art, a store that actively promotes film in the community, a store with a real, tangible personality. Cinema Revolution creates an artistic context for your DVD rental experience; we help guide you through innumerable choices, and celebrate films that otherwise are marginalized or ignored. We are active in the community as well. Through the nearly five years of our existence, we have shot a feature film using all local talent, we have held dozens of film screenings through Cinema des Artistes and our Film Society, commissioned new original short films from local artists, held weekly live film discussion groups, started a local record label, and have helped actively promote countless festivals, performances and screenings by local producers. It is a major part of our mission to connect, support and inspire our local artistic community. If you value what we do for the community, we ask you to please help us continue in these endeavors.

So, if you can donate a little bit to help them out, if you can't do that, make an effort to rent some films from there, go to a screening hosted by Cinema Revolution, or participate in one of their weekly film discussions.

Here are the details sent out about how you can help out:

We are seeking to raise $5,000 by September 15th to help make our move to a new location a reality, as it cannot be done without this additional support. The suggested donation is $20 (and if 250 people can do this, we will make our goal), but please feel free to give at any level you can afford. With your collective help we can make this happen.

We are also seeking volunteers to help in this fundraising effort. If you are interested in helping out, contact We are also open to any suggestions or advice anyone may have to help us along.

In just the past two years we have lost legendary video stores Discount Video and Box Office Video. We have seen the Oak Street and Bell Auditorium film programs vanish, we have watched the entire film editorial staff at the City Pages lose their jobs, and Hollywood fare is now seeping into our beloved Lagoon Cinema. Please help keep an active, inspiring film culture alive in the Twin Cities and donate securely via PayPal today at (Click on the link below).

Please note that if for any reason we do not achieve our financial goal, your generous donations will be refunded directly through PayPal. If we should raise more than our goal, the extra money will be applied to growing our movie collection to help fill our new space. Also be aware that we are not organized as a non-profit organization for tax purposes, so your donation is not tax deductible.

That's all I've got, it's well worth a little bit of your time or money to help keep filmmaking in the city alive. Adios.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I am Robin Gunningham

There has been a lot of talk flying around message boards, blogs, and even reputable papers and magazines like Time and The Guardian about the potential unmasking of Banksy. For those who are somehow unfamiliar with one of the most influential artists alive, Banksy is a street artist whose whole persona has relied on the fact that no one knows who Banksy is. He started has a regular tagger in London, and has evolved into an international criminal and hero. Creating a Guantanamo prisoner blow up at Disneyland, tagging the walls of the West Bank, recreating works like the Mona Lisa and sneaking them into the Louvre, tagging the front steps of the Tate Modern with a "Mind the Crap" stencil. Banksy has helped to legitimize street art, bringing it into galleries, both undercover and legitimately.

All the while, through books on his work, huge installations and international fame, the mystery of Banksy has remained much like the mystery of Batman. People have searched - especially the law - and no one has been certain who Banksy is.

Recently a 2004 photo in Jamaica and some research done by a UK paper have revealed that Banksy might possibly be Robin Gunningham. That facts are that the 2004 photo shows Robin Gunningham crouched over a Banksy stencil holding a can of spray paint. It was revealed through research that Gunningham was a middle class art student in the UK with an interest in street art. Interviews with former friends and roommates have revealed that he was a good artist in many mediums and that, at that point, he was not spraying, and was not Banksy. Representatives of Banksy (do they know who he is?) are saying that the man in the photo is not, in fact, Banksy.

So the debate has raged online. Many say the photo has existed for years and that the papers are just trying to stir up a little bit of controversy. Others are claiming that it has taken this long to put together the facts and truly figure out who Robin Gunningham is.

I think the real question here is why are we trying to unmask one of the greatest artists of our time? Surely many law enforcement agencies would like to have him unmasked and prosecuted, but does the press really want to be to blame for that? If there is any follow through here, and they can prove Gunningham is Banksy, what are the real implications of that?

There is certainly an "I am Spartacus" sort of reaction going on around the globe right now. No one wants to see him unmasked, as curious as we all are. But there is certainly the potential that many "Banksy's" have been done by other artists, as the potential for being a copycat of an unknown person is there. Printing of "I am Robin Gunningham" shirts have already begun, and the backlash towards the people ripping the mask off of a hero.