From the punk-roused outcasts of "Border Radio" to the oldies-loving homegirls of "Mi Vida Loca," the work of local filmmaker Allison Anders has always been driven by a music lover's sensibility, not to mention a rock 'n' roll-style rebelliousness. So it's no surprise that the director claims a longtime passion for rock-driven celluloid. So much so that she taught a course about the subject at UC Santa Barbara.
The class, called Don't Knock the Rock, was popular enough that Anders decided to take it to the next level: a full-fledged film and music festival.
"People really responded to the movies," says Anders, sipping juice with her comrades on the project -- daughter Tiffany Anders and co-director Gianna Chachere -- on a recent Saturday morning in the backyard of her collectibles-filled North Hollywood home. "And there were a lot them that people hadn't even seen. I just thought people needed to watch these films on a big screen with a crowd."
Anders' vision comes to life this weekend as the first Don't Knock the Rock festival takes over a handful of Hollywood venues with movies and music, including performances by J Mascis, Wayne Kramer, the Tyde, Dead Meadow and Sonic Youth, and two big West Coast premieres: David C. Thomas' "MC5: A True Testimonial" (a documentary about the early days of the Detroit punk pioneers) and Eric Idle's "The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch" (the sequel to his beloved Beatles parody "The Rutles," aka "All You Need Is Cash").
Despite the presence of these two high-profile if largely unseen works, don't expect the usual faux-indie/competitive vibe of other film fests. The ladies behind this event say it'll be anything but business-driven.
"This isn't about people looking for the next big thing that's going make them money," says Chachere, who also directs the Slamdance Film Festival and its Filmmakers Bootcamp in New Orleans. "This is about having fun."
"It's really for people who respond to rock and pop history," Anders adds. "People who collect records. There's a lot of knowledge to be found in this festival for people who are obsessed with this kind of thing and even those who aren't."
In addition to the premieres, Don't Knock the Rock's screenings, primarily of cult classics, will include a three-part tribute to Penelope Spheeris featuring "The Decline of Western Civilization" I and II (rock documentaries chronicling the L.A. punk and metal scenes, respectively) and the angsty punk drama "Suburbia."
Also in the lineup will be "Head," the subversive black comedy starring the Monkees; the Lou Adler-directed girl band favorite "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains," starring Diane Lane and Laura Dern; the Mick Jagger psychosexual art vehicle "Performance"; and "Stardust," a rags-to-riches tale featuring Dave Edmunds and Keith Moon (which Anders is also restoring with the help of sponsors).
"These are the types of movies that people aren't necessarily going to preserve because they're not highbrow enough or they didn't make enough money," she says. "We want to restore one of the films every year so people can enjoy them for years to come."
Though the lineup celebrates film and music and how each has influenced the other over the years, there's a subtext that pays homage to the festival's location.
"I could stand on any corner in Hollywood and point in any direction and point out the whole history of rock 'n' roll here," Anders says.
Opening-NIGHT festivities include a Teen Band Contest at Amoeba Records, in which under-18 groups compete for prizes including rock star clothing and haircuts, gear and studio time.
There'll also be Punk Rock Aerobics, an exercise class featuring hard-core sounds; an auction of Anders' personal vintage record cases, with proceeds going to charity; and panels about "actors playing musicians and musicians who become actors" and "how to score films on a budget" (something Anders says has challenged her over the years). And there will be a selection of videos and shorts, the most anticipated of which is rare footage of the Flying Burrito Brothers shot just before they broke up.
Of course, it's all inspired by the music itself, and headliners Sonic Youth (set to be inducted into Guitar Center's Rock Walk of Fame next week) epitomize the fest's independent rock 'n' roll spirit.
"It was important for us to expose bands that don't get attention," says Tiffany, who booked the live music talent big and small. "Sonic Youth have always been really good about showcasing lesser known bands on their bills, and this one's no exception."
Actor-musician Michael Des Barres is master of ceremonies, and Anders celebrity pals including Matt Dillon and Rosanna Arquette will host the musical portions.