Last year, KCSB-FM 91.9 launched Popped Culture, a film series devoted to celebrating the connection between community radio and film. Featured movies included everything from the cult classic Pump Up the Volume to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to Bollywood phenomenon Dil Se, all offered for free. On Thursday, November 29 at 8 p.m., Popped Culture returns, this time to Isla Vista Theater, with Border Radio. Filmed over the course of four years in Southern California by codirectors Allison Anders, Kurt Voss, and Dean Lent, the 1987 indie tells the story of Jeff, a musician who flees to Mexico after stealing money from a nightclub owner. Back home, Jeff’s rock journalist wife and two of his friends set out to find him. In celebration of Border Radio’s 25th anniversary, KCSB is bringing the film back to the big screen with plenty of added goodies. Below, we run down a few of the reasons you should check it out. For more info, visit kcsb.org.
1. The Music: In addition to an influential score by Dave Alvin of The Blasters, Border Radio’s cast is littered with some of the more notable members of L.A.’s early punk scene. Jeff is played by Chris D. of The Flesh Eaters and X’s John Doe stars as one of Jeff’s two friends. Bands like Green on Red and Billy Wisdom and the Hee-Shees perform as part of the story, and rockers Texas Terri, Tony Kinman, and Julie Christensen all play bit parts.
2. The Style: Stylistically, Radio’s black-and-white shots and seedy-character-filled storyline call to mind noir classics. But the film’s guerilla production techniques and improvisational feel push it into a realm all its own and make it a must-see for film buffs everywhere. Recalls Voss, “At UCLA, [Allison and I] studied and admired the directors of the New German Cinema — like Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, and Rainer Fassbinder. These directors were dragging their cameras out into the streets and making dynamic films with little money and no stars. At the same time, the U.S. indie scene was blooming — Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise. Our desire to do a feature sprung from that inspiration, and came before our subject did.”
3. The Special Guests: Following Thursday night’s screening, Voss (Ghost on the Highway: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the Gun Club, Down and Out with the Dolls) will be on hand to discuss the film and take audience questions. If scheduling permits, Anders will join the convo via Skype. “Come for the punk-rock history — stay for the creamy black-and-white photography, courtesy of codirector Dean Lent,” says Voss.