When Kiowa-Choctaw artist Steven Paul Judd was a child, growing up on Indian reservations in Oklahoma and Mississippi, he contracted polio and had to go to the hospital. There, by his own account, he “saw TV for the first time.” It made a big impression.
As luck would have it, the TV movie that was playing happened to be The Wizard of Oz. Specifically, it was the scene where Dorothy steps out of monochrome Kansas and into the technicolor splendor of Oz. To hear Judd tell it, having this be your first-ever experience of television was a hyper-accelerated transition from black-and-white moving images into color that basically recapitulated the whole 20th century development of the moving-picture medium in a matter of dizzying minutes. This was an epiphanic exposure — a baptism into TV by fire that left the artist’s world view illuminated and rearranged.
Judd told this story to a packed house at Humboldt State University on Wednesday during a talk he gave as part of HSU’s Native Pathways speaker series. Judd, who lives in Oklahoma and Los Angeles, is a screenwriter, artist and independent filmmaker; he has also recently co-written a novel. His videos tell short, funny stories set in native families and communities, both on and off the reservation. The stories he wants to tell have the simplicity and clarity of folktales, with the reference points updated for contemporary audiences.
From Steven Paul Judd's "Shhh."
The rapid initiation into TV described above seems to have prompted a series of questions: What did it mean to be Indian and be immersed in pop culture? What did it mean to be Kiowa and Choctaw and also be a diehard fan of all things having to do with superheroes and science fiction? These queries continue to propel the artist’s investigations.
In his talk, Judd explained that he hadn’t seen a lot of Indians on TV while he was growing up. In fact, he recalled exactly three. There was Iron Eyes Cody, famous from a 1971 anti-littering PSA, who let a single tear fall from his eye when he gazed upon the white man’s litterbug ways (and who was actually Sicilian). There was Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto in The Lone Ranger. And then there was Erik Estrada, from the 1977-83 series CHiPs. While Estrada is not actually Native either, Judd said he was willing to accord the actor who played Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncharello honorary status: “He’s not a Native person, but I thought he looked like one of my uncles, who watched CHiPs too.”
All of these Indian role models, Judd explained, had their merits, but when it came to authenticity they lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. He decided to start shooting videos, making photo collages and writing screenplays in order to make the Native characters he wanted to see appear onscreen.
His photo collages feature mash-up images created by juxtaposing historical photographs of Indians from the late 19th and early 20th century with anachronistic characters from late 20th century movies and TV. In one still, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man looms alarmingly behind a row of teepees decorated with traditional paintings. A replica “ledger drawing” made in homage to the narrative line drawings created by Plains Indians from the 1860s through the 1920s features warrior figures whose regalia owes more to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than it does to traditional indigenous forms.
Many of the videos involve stop-action animation. In “Round Dance” an artist’s articulated wooden model and a robot call forth assorted action figures that drum and form a moving circle, each toy prompting separate pangs of pop culture deja vu. Ewoks and Storm Troopers stomp through the frame. The command to “be a good Indian” echoes through space, followed by a polite request to turn your phone off.
You can see more of Judd’s videos, including “First Contact,” “Neil Discovers the Moon” and “Search for the World’s Best Indian Taco,” here.
Sara Bareilles sings Joni Mitchell at the Academy Awards.
There were some moving speeches and emotional twists at the Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26, including Sara Bareilles' moving rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," performed during the In Memoriam montage of stars and industry greats who passed away in 2016. In case you missed it while microwaving more popcorn or hobnobbing at the Eureka Theater, the awards show's official website has the video posted for your viewing pleasure.
A choked-up Jennifer Aniston introduced the Humboldt County native, who must be made of steel to hit those high notes with Prince, Gene Wilder and Carrie Fisher speaking softly from the big screen over her shoulder. You can watch it here but get some tissues first. That's it. Just let it all out.
Still hurting from all the stars we lost in 2016? Humboldt County lady Sara Bareilles is here to soothe your pain. Well, not here, but in Los Angeles, where the singer, composer and current Broadway star (she's taking a 10-week turn onstage in Waitress, the pie-centric musical she scored) will perform during the In Memoriam segment of the Academy Awards tonight. According to her Twitter feed, she's already getting cozy with the golden boy (see above). No word yet on what song she'll perform but if sitting in my parked car listening to "When She Was Mine" and crying into a wad of Fresh Freeze napkins is any indication, expect tears.
That's director Jim Hosking in the brimmed hat and down jacket.
No word yet on when that movie filming in Eureka will be in theaters but An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, — directed by Jim Hosking and starring Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement, Craig Robinson and Emile Hirsch — is hitting quite a few Humboldt locations with vintage vibes. When we do finally get to see it, keep your eyes peeled for scenes at Gas 4 Less in Arcata, the Eureka Inn lobby, its exterior and one of the hotel's rooms, Roy's Club Italian Restaurant — where filming took place yesterday afternoon — and right outside the Journal's F Street office. The film crew was on the sidewalk around 5 p.m. Thursday shooting a brief scene in a white van, with prop flyers taped to our newspaper box. (It's like we were basically in a movie but we're not signing autographs, so please be cool about it.) Last night, the Cherry Blossom Bakery in Henderson Center was lit up for a shoot, too, during which an unidentified actress reportedly buys a cinnamon roll. (We're also getting a cinnamon roll later, which is basically like brunch with Aubrey Plaza.)
Robinson and Clement bending a bit to make the writer appear taller because that is what true gentlemen do.
UPDATE: Official confirmation has finally come from the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission regarding the famous folk we've been seeing around Eureka. In a press release this morning, Cassandra Hesseltine, who's kept contractually mum up until now, stated that Jemaine Clement, Craig Robinson, Aubrey Plaza, Emile Hirsch, Matt Berry and Director Jim Hosking were all in town to film An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn. (This is not the title we previously reported after getting it from a source who shall remain nameless and whom we are not judging because Humboldt weed is strong, people, and out-of-towners need a little slack.) No word yet on when this comes out but we'll keep you posted.
Shameless and a little lazy, honestly. Actors Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows) were right downstairs from the Journal offices at Because Coffee today, after all. The two are in town, along with Aubrey Plaza, filming an indie film directed by Jim Hosking (The Greasy Strangler) called Lena Left Lynn.
Rae Robison and Megan Johnson snap a selfie with Jemaine Clement at the Eureka Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 21.
Both Robinson and Clement are enjoying our fair county — Robinson even snapped a sweet photo of an elk up at Prairie Creek — and say they're impressed by its arts scene. Clement, who hails from New Zealand finds our verdant coastal landscape familiar and other than the odd journalist (ahem), everybody's been pretty cool. Eureka City Councilmember Kim Bergel stopped by the coffee shop with her son, with whom Robinson posed for a photo. She also took the one above — which they insisted I had to be in.
Clement also joined the Women's March in Eureka this past weekend (Robinson had to work) and was impressed by the turnout.
Past the convoy of trucks and catering tents, A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th, Queen Sugar) and her crew were set up in Sequoia Park running through an action scene today. People stopped to warm up by a glowing heater and chat quietly while the cameras and actors worked farther down the slope into the forest. "They're still running," one crewmember remarked.
The film, an adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's classic young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel (deep breaths, fellow nerds), boasts among its cast members Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kahling, Chris Pine and Zach Galifianakis. In the book, a trio of kids (Storm Reid, Levi Miller and Deric McCabe) zip around between worlds. You'll have to read up if you want to know where our county comes in.
Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine says the filming in our county, which also included Patrick's Point, is scheduled to wrap up tomorrow.
The crowd beneath the lit marquee at the Minor's reopening.
On Friday night, after a furious round of renovations, the Minor Theatre opened again in Arcata with a black-tie celebration and a night of local independent films. After a decade of corporate ownership, the movie house is in the hands of Josh Neff and partner Merrick McKinlay, who promise a steady schedule of independent, foreign and mainstream movies alike. The theater, first completed in 1914, is the oldest surviving multi-reel feature film theater in the U.S. And now you can get a beer there. Photographer Mark McKenna was cruising the lobby and photographing the swells in their finery. Put your tux on and enjoy his slideshow of the festivities.
Peter, Hazel and Shirley Santino bring vintage glamour to the vintage lobby of the Eureka Theater.
While Leonardo DiCaprio was selling his soul to that goat from The Witch for his Oscar, the Eureka Theater was flush with its own parade of gowns and tuxes at the Red Carpet Gala co-hosted by the Humboldt Del Norte Film Commission and the theater, celebrating 100 years of filming on the North Coast. The 88th Academy Awards and clips from movies with familiar locales played on the big screen, local awards were bestowed and a lobby full of locals in their finest clinked glasses and chased after the woman carrying the plate of bacon-wrapped shrimp. And they looked good, too. The people. (And the shrimp, actually.) True to Humboldt's nature, there was a lot of vintage, especially in the way of tuxedos, hats and fur stoles, both real and faux. Plenty of women took a shine to sequins, and it appears trains are back, so watch your step. Check out the slideshow for some style highlights just off the red carpet.
Were you wondering if movie buffs at Portugal's 2013 Duoro Film Harvest and the crowd at the 2013 Humboldt premier were the only people who'd ever see the The Wine of Summer? Well, so was local filmmaker Maria Matteoli for a minute there. But come Oct. 6 the film, shot both in Spain and here in Old Town Eureka, will open at the Fine Arts Beverly Hills theater — the whole Hollywood red carpet treatment. In a phone interview, while wrangling her 2-year-old son, Matteoli says it's a big deal for such a small film.
"I'm so shocked that it even got theatrical release," she says with a laugh. The hunt for a distributor started in 2012, but Matteoli feels winning a prize at the film fest in Portugal helped the movie land the deal with New Films International. TheWine of Summer is slated for release in 10 cities with the possibility of wider distribution depending on ticket sales.
Not that Matteoli has been sitting around waiting. "I already have financing and we've already started casting for my new film," she says. While she won't say who, she hints that an Academy Award-winning actress is interested in the lead role in Lady of the Canyon, about explorer/author Isabella Bird, who traveled in Colorado in 1874. Set to be shot in Colorado and England, the film spans Bird's life but is focused on her early 40s, if that helps you speculate on the actress any.
If you think you saw a Hollywood actress around town, you probably did. Rowdy Kelly, who is scouting locations for the production company Woodshock LLC, won't confirm or deny whether Kirsten Dunst is in Humboldt for pre-production visit (and neither will Cassandra Hesseltine of the Humboldt Del Norte Film Commission), but the film's IMDB page lists her as cast in the film Woodshock from Coda Films. (We had to check — remember that Jennifer Lawrence/Sean Penn hoax at the Peg House?) Kelly was able to tell the Journal that the film is a psychological drama to be filmed largely in Eureka and around Humboldt with a few scenes in Del Norte. Kelly has worked as a location scout on The Majestic, After Earth (go easy, he was a scout, not a writer) and several car commercials.
If you see Dunst around town, be cool, Humboldt. (She's had it rough, what with being stuck as a child vampire with blonde Tom Cruise and having Gwen Stacy steal Spiderman.) Kelly says selfies with the star are probably fine, "as long as you have her permission — or his." Very smooth. Send a snapshot our way if you get one — we want to Photoshop ourselves in there.