Arts & Events

Around & About--Theater: New Play Written & Directed by Bahram Beyzaie

Ken Bullock
Friday October 21, 2016 - 03:35:00 PM

Not long after I started reviewing for the Planet a dozen years ago, I went to a production at Ashby Stage. Shotgun was collaborating with Darvag Theatre of Oakland, an Iranian-American troupe that mostly performs in Farsi. The production was an English translation of 'The Death of Yazdgerd,' the last pre-Islamic Shah of Iran, killed under mysterious circumstances after the battle won by the Arab Muslim invaders. The play was written by Bahram Beyzaie. -more-

Do Not Resist: How America's Police Are becoming an Occupying Military Force

Gar Smith
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:58:00 PM

Opens October 21 at the Elmwood in Berkeley

Filmmaker Craig Atkinson's dad was a Detroit-area cop for 29 years and a member of his town's first SWAT team in 1989. Both the filmmaker and his retired father are troubled by the direction policing has taken in the US over the post-9/11 years and Do Not Resist—a visceral, unnarrated 73-minute documentary—presents a powerful warning about the perils and growing presence of an American Police State.

Director/cinematographer/editor Atkinson's pro-police background enabled him to gain uncommon entrée into the world of policing—hanging out with cops, attending their conferences and training sessions, even squeezing his camera inside urban tanks crowded with automatic weapons and combat-ready enforcers heading to suburban drug raids.

The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the federal government from using military personnel to enforce domestic laws. In the 1960's, however, when UC Berkeley was besieged by bayonet-wielding soldiers, we saw how the National Guard could be deployed to avoid this law. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon and the War Lobby found a new way to entrench their powers and enrich their coffers—by turning domestic police into a virtual army equipped with full-scale combat weaponry including assault rifles, drones, and armored personnel carriers.

But here's the problem: when you adopt these weapons, you also adopt the killer mentality they are designed to serve.


Movies in the Margin: The Disability Film Festival, the UN Film Festival, and Films on Fracking

Gar Smith
Friday October 21, 2016 - 12:48:00 PM

The Disability Film Festival

Screenings on Saturday, October 22 at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley and Sunday, October 23 at The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Superfest, the world's longest-running disability film festival. Since it first debuted in a small Los Angeles showcase in 1970, Superfest: The International Disability Film Festival has become an eagerly anticipated international event—co-hosted by San Francisco's Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Paul K. Longmore Institute.

Hollywood has had a long and feverish romance with disease and disability (c.f., Love Story, My Left Foot, A Beautiful Mind, The Theory of Everything) but these award-winning blockbusters frequently have left the disabled community feeling jilted. Hence, the Superfest.

As a blog on the Longmore Institute website puts it: "We [no longer] have to settle for the typical fare of nondisabled actors getting Oscars for playing disabled people in ways that promote pity and helplessness. We know that disability isn't just about Kleenex™ boxes and suicide."