There are three types of crowdfunded movies: "important" documentaries; artsy shorts that people fund because they want to look like they care; and celebrity-driven low-budget projects that folks get extremely vitriolic over only if there's a Zach Braff element—otherwise, nothing.
All three are on display during the Kickstarter Film Festival, a national tour that will screen its greatest-hits collection of shorts and features at the Clinton this Thurday.
First up is What We Do in the Shadows, last year's breakout darling in which Jemaine Clement leads a group of vampire roommates getting the mockumentary treatment. Basically, everybody loves it. But the town criers of the Internet held off having a tizzy, probably because Clement is still very much an indie superstar whose name isn't Zach Braff (Braff raised $3 million for his whiny hipster opus Wish I Was Here that was worth $22 million) and director Taika Waititi isn't Spike Lee (who followed Braff's example by begging for money to make Da Sweet Blood of Jesus). It also probably helps that Shadows isn't a colossal piece of shit.
T-Rex represents the lower-profile side of crowdfunding cinema. It tells the incredible story of Claressa "T-Rex" Shields, a teenager in Flint, Mich., trying to become the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. It's a compelling story that demands to be told and gives a rare glimpse of something positive in Flint (my hometown). And it wouldn't exist—at least in this high quality—without its benefactors.
People who decry higher-profile crowdfunded films say that audiences throwing money at stars' vanity projects is harming lesser-known filmmakers (whether 99 percent of those dissenters are indie filmmakers themselves is up for debate). But the fact is that people are going to give money to the kinds of movies they want to see. And what people want to see isn't always an avant-garde short from some unknown artist. Sometimes people want to shell out $6 for a Veronica Mars movie.
So take the good with the bad, and if the fact that there's one more Zach Braff movie out there means I can also watch squabbling vampires and badass teen athletes, then I'd say the good of crowdfunding outweighs the bad.
SEE IT: The Kickstarter Film Fest is at the Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm (What We Do) and 9:20 pm (T-Rex) Thursday, Oct. 15. Free.
Church of Film's Gothic Literature in Film series dives into lesser-known adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe, including a French take on The Fall of the House of Usher and an Austrian expressionist take on The Raven. North Star Ballroom. 8 pm Wednesday, Oct. 14.
In the 1989 heavy-metal revenge fantasy Trick or Treat, a geeky teenage metalhead gets revenge on bullies with the help of the ghost of his favorite dead rockstar. Living rock ghost Gene Simmons cameos. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Evil Dead 2 makes a strong case for horror remakes. Provided that the remake is made by the same director as the original. And that said director turns his grueling and raw horror tale into a blood-drenched slapstick masterpiece. Hollywood Theatre. 9:45 pm Friday, Oct. 16.
Local trash purveyor Jacques Boyreau is taking over the Laurelhurst in a hell of a way with GrindThis, a batshit collection of vintage horror quasi-classics including 1980's Prom Night, Frankenhooker (which, yes, is as glorious as its title implies), bumsploitation nightmare Street Trash, and much, much more. Laurelhurst Theater. Friday-Thursday, Oct. 16-29. See laurelhursttheater.com for full listings.
The (Re)Discoveries series explores classic Ingrid Bergman performances with the one-two punch of creepy melodrama Gaslight and the feel-good nuns-in-need yarn The Bells of St. Mary's. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. Friday-Monday, Oct. 16-19. See NWFilm.org for full listings.
The Friday Film Club gets enraptured in Wong Kar-Wai's gorgeous, adored In the Mood for Love. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 5:30 pm Friday, Oct. 16.
It's been parodied endlessly and remade recently, but despite cultural saturation, Rosemary's Baby remains as discomforting as it was way back in 1968. Academy Theater. Friday-Thursday, Oct. 16-22.
"Wait, what if we did something like Cujo again. But it's, like, a car! Right? And the car's all 'VRRROOOOOOM, You're dead!' Whoooooo." –Stephen King, pitching Christine to a bag of cocaine, circa 1982. 5th Avenue Cinema. 7 & 9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, Oct. 16-18.
One of the most homage-d films of all time, Tod Browning's Freaks is still a startling revenge tale, as notable for its chilly climax as it is for the way it takes its titular sideshow performers and treats them with the utmost sincerity and sympathy and making the "normal" folks the true monsters. Hollywood Theatre. 3 & 7 pm Saturday and 3 pm Sunday, Oct. 17-18.
If you've spent time in real Detroit, Robocop is kind of depressing, considering the dystopian future depicted in the film itself kinda, sorta came true. Cartopia. Dark, Sunday, Oct. 18.
Long before Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica, Space Patrol, Space Patrol, Space Patrol blazed a trail as the first space-based TV show in 1950. Check out three episodes of the pionnering show, then nerdily debate its true merits on a Trek message board. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Monday, Oct. 19.