Arts & Events

New: Citizen Koch:
Voters, Workers, Filmmakers All Get Screwed by the Kochs --
Opens June 27 at the Landmark Shattuck

Review by Gar Smith
Monday June 23, 2014 - 02:48:00 PM

It's not for nothing that the "MPAA Rating" on the Citizen Koch press packet warns the 86-minute documentary contains some coarse language "and terrifying political maneuvering." Case in point: The reason we will be watching Citizen Koch on the Big Screen is because we weren't allowed to see it on PBS.

The film was originally set for broadcast on PBS—until the Independent Television Service (ITVS) pulled its promised $150,000 in completion funds. Why? Out of concern the film might rile the bile of a particular donor named Koch (who also sits on the boards of two of the largest PBS stations). ITVS had earlier aired Alex Gibney's exposé, Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, which included a scathing critique of David Koch and his brother Charles. Citizen Koch arrived just as WNET (the flagship PBS station in Manhattan) was anticipating a seven-figure gift from Koch. Aware of Mr. Koch's displeasure over the Ginbey film, WNET's president refused to schedule the film for broadcast. As one senior ITVS exec subsequently explained: "We live in a world where we have to be aware that people with power have power."

Ironically, this was the very message the filmmakers were trying to make.

Directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin were forced to "go grassroots" to finished their film. A Kickstarter campaign drew more than 3,000 supporters who contributed nearly $170,000 in 30 days.

The film is arriving in Bay Area movie theaters on June 27. The Kochs will not be pleased.

Co-director Tia Lessin will be at the Landmark Shattuck on Saturday to discuss the film. There will be a Q&A after the 5, 7 and 9:30 screenings. Common Cause CA will host the second Q&A and Tia Lesin will introduce the final screening. -more-

New: Arianne MacBean & The Big Show Company at ODC in San Francisco June 26-8

Previewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday June 22, 2014 - 08:52:00 AM

Although Becky O’Malley, editor of the Planet and mother of an opera singer, shares with me the perils of writing about one’s own offspring, she has encouraged me to write, if not a review, at least a preview to alert readers to the forthcoming modern dance events Thursday, June 26 through Saturday, June 28, at ODC, 351 Shotwell Street (between 17th & 18th) in San Francisco’s Mission District.

My daughter Arianne MacBean brings her modern dance troupe, The Big Show Co., from Los Angeles for three performances, including a world première of a new piece entitled “Present Tense.” As a choreographer much praised by the Los Angeles Times, Arianne MacBean combines dance, music, movement, gesture, and text—sometimes spoken by the dancers, sometimes in a dialogue between an off-stage voice and the dancers, and sometimes written on the bodies of the dancers. Her work is full of humor and whimsy, and it usually deals with issues of communication across gender lines. I heartily recommend her shows; but then she’s my daughter. Come and see for yourself. -more-

MUSIC REVIEWS: Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH in Hertz Hall and
Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday June 19, 2014 - 10:18:00 AM

On Friday, June 13, 2014, the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra gave the first of three performances of Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah at Hertz Hall on the UC Berk-eley campus. Elijah was composed by Mendelssohn on a commission from the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival in England, where it was first performed in 1846. It is the second oratorio composed by Mendelssohn, the first being St. Paul, which also received an English première, though ten years earlier. These two oratorios, set to religious texts, and following in the tradition of Bach and Handel, firmly established Mendelssohn in the English musical scene. In the course of Mendelssohn’s brief life, he made nine different trips to England, even becoming friends with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who championed his music. -more-