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Giving a New Spin to Film Premieres

August 03, 1992|KEVIN ALLMAN

The Scene: Thursday night's premiere at the Directors Guild of America of "The Panama Deception," a documentary about the 1989 invasion of Panama. The evening was presented by radio station KPFK, the charity El Rescate and the Empowerment Project, which also produced the film.

The Buzz: Depending on whom you ask, the movie was either a brilliant indictment of one aspect of the Bush Administration's foreign policy or election-year agitprop dished up by the usual liberal suspects. Naturally, the guests leaned toward the former.

Who Was There: "Panama" director Barbara Trent; actors Cher, Richard Masur, David Clennon, Ed Asner and Susan Clark; director Paul Mazursky and singer Jackson Browne, who contributed music to the movie. Speakers included former CIA officer Philip Roettinger and former Panama diplomat Humberto Brown.

Dress Code: Casual leftist chic. Guests wore T-shirts with anti-apartheid or Veterans for Peace messages, and some had the image of Che Guevara. Baseball caps read "X" (as in Malcolm, of course) and "Brown in '92."

Chow: A buffet donated by local restaurants: A Votre Sante, Cha Cha Cha, L.A. Nicola and Maple Drive.

Money Matters: Tickets to the premiere were $60. After the screening, Empowerment Project volunteers passed a hat, seeking $13,000 to transfer the video to 35-millimeter film.

Glitches: KPFK supporters were put in the politically uncomfortable position of crossing a picket line. Outside, a group was protesting what they perceived as "racist attitudes of management and staff at KPFK." A seemingly embarrassed KPFK staffer addressed the audience before the movie, saying, "The issue of free speech is very complex."

Exit Line: "What, Oliver Stone isn't here to see this?" asked one guest. Another person answered, "Well, it's about a conspiracy--but I guess it's not Oliver's conspiracy."

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