Indie film director Allison Anders (Gas, Food, Lodging) and her daughter musician Tiffany Anders co-created and co-curate the Don't Knock the Rock Film and Music Festival in LA. The festival continues through this month.
Women & Hollywood: Why did you start the Don't Knock the Rock Film and Music Festival and how long has it been in existence?
Allison Anders: This is our 4th year! I had created a class at UCSB where I teach one quarter a year called "Don't Knock The Rock" which was a history of rock n roll told through movies. I enjoyed teaching it so much, that I wanted to create a festival. I had also been inspired by a short-lived festival like this in Sheffield England back in 1999, when I was an honored guest there. They screened several of my music based movies and I had the best time, cause I was surrounded by music films, which – when they're good, for me there's nothing better!W&H: What films and bands are you most proud of from this year?
But I wanted to add a live music element to our festival, so I asked Tiffany who was about to move back to LA from living in New York, if she'd be into curating the music for the festival. So we have been doing it that way ever since – I curate the films, she puts together the music line-ups. The very first year her LINE-UPS were reviewed, beautifully I might add – I had never seen line-ups reviewed!
Tiffany always has her ear to the ground for new music, and she is a master at predicting who will take off. She also has great love and rich knowledge of often more obscure artists who are on the verge of re-discovery.
We work together pairing the movies with live music (and DJs!). We have very similar sensibilities, and we don't shy away from stuff that may seem too marginal – cause somehow between the two of us we know how to reach the people who are avid fans of some obscure artist and get them out to see a movie about them!
We moved this year to our new home The Silent Movie Theater and it's a partnership made in movie and music nerd heaven!
AA: Well of course, we are thrilled with ALL of our films and bands! But we have been pretty stunned by how many films this year were directed or co-directed by women! Over HALF – that's quite a record! Last month we screened an incredible film by Ava DuVernay, our very first hip hop movie called "This Is The Life", and the week before that a film by Pamela Valente called Rock 'N' Tokyo about the punk and rockabilly scene in Japan.
Tiffany Anders: I have been very pleased with every performance we've had this year.One of my happy moments was 2 years ago when I received an email from Gary Wilson who said he had read about DKTR and was interested in it and that he currently had a film being made about him and that he would love to be involved. I didn't miss a beat and asked if he would like to "cover" (and I certainly knew Gary Wilson would not deliver a straight version) of a Daniel Johnston song to play after the dvd release party of " The Devil and Daniel Johnston". He agreed and since then we kept in touch. It was great to have him come back with the completed film and play live, and needless to say the audience was just as ecstatic as I was.W&H: What's coming up that you want people to know about?
AA: Yesterday, we had 2 Punk Rock Premieres – one about the Chicago punk scene (You Weren't There) and one about the Dallas Fort Worth scene (DFW PUNK) – one directed by a woman and one co-directed by a woman. These are both fabulous looks at regional punk scenes during the same block of years.W&H: What makes this festival unique?
August 14 we have a BBC documentary on Stiff Records, with an amazing Stiff Tribute Concert by the cream of the local crop of music talent after the movie with some special treats for Stiff fans!
TA: August 14th is going to be amazing fun. I have put together a Stiff tribute band that includes myself on guitar, Jessica Espeleta (ESPS) on guitar, Chet Bently on Bass and Terry Graham ( Gun Club, The Bags) on drums.
We also have amazing guest vocalists Dante ( Starlight Desperation), Jade Gordon (from art performance troop "My Barbarian", and Ian Marshall.
We have been rehearsing for that and it has been SO fun. It really makes you appreciate Stiff Records, they just had so many great artists who wrote such fun songs!
AA: On August 16 we have a Sonic Youth Concert film shot entirely by high school students called "Sleeping Nights Awake". We also have a BMI sponsored roundtable chat on getting your music into Films, TV And New Media and on clearing music for your work.
On August 21 we have a film called "Under The Covers" a fascinating look at the collaboration between photographer Henry Diltz and artist Gary Burden who created some of the most iconic album covers of the classic rock era. And after that a look at the eccentric world and music of one man bands!
On August 28, a beautiful film by New Zealand director Briget Sutherland on musician David Kilgour.
TA: David Kilgour was also in one of my favorite bands The Clean. Also we screened Steve Hanfts film "Return of the Rub a Dub style" and there was a scene where someone was being interviewed in a club and there was a flyer for a David Kilgour show in the background. I got a real kick out of that!
And we come back on Sept 6 for the DVD release party for riot girl favorite "Ladies And Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains" starring a young Diane Lane and Laura Dern from 1982.
AA: We show music movies that are for the informed and music savvy. We don't try to get the huge music films because they are really better served by the big festivals. Consequently, we cooperate with other festivals rather than compete. It's so great having that kind of support, cause these bigger festivals can sometimes alert us to films they can't take, but that would be better served by us.W&H: Tiffany, what are you working on?
And because we're an intimate, niche hand-made festival, we can take the time to find the obsessive fans and music nerds. And I think we do things in a personal way that is hard for larger festivals to do. And no one programs music line-ups the way Tiffany can – she just KNOWS!
TA: I feel strongly that both underground film and music does not get the support it needs to flourish and clearly from the success of DKTR it is obvious that people are very much interested in these films and these bands.
I think since my mother and I are both non- commercial, non corporate artists we are very sensitive to this. I have a lot of friends who are visual artists and it always blows my mind how much support there is for the arts, people get flown to different countries, get residencies, get grants.....and yet film and music is still sorta looked down upon, even if it is not exploring commercial avenues, so I'm happy that we are creating a place for these films and musicians to get their voices heard and people are listening.
TA: I just finished an album that will be released in the UK through Poppydisc, which is run by the great Joe Foster who also does the AMAZING re-issue label Rev- Ola, so I'm very happy that I will be in such great company. As for the U.S., I am still searching for someone to release it.W&H: Allison, we haven't seen a film from you in a while. What are you working on?
AA: I've been developing a western with my partner Terry Graham and we're also about to embark on a documentary film on 60s garage music with another filmmaker Ian Marshall.W&H: You've been at the forefront of the movement to raise awareness of the lack of opportunities for women directors. The situation has not been improving in fact its getting worse. Do you have any theories? Do you have any advice for women who want to be directors?
AA: Well I think there was more room for everyone when the economy was better, and the indie world wasn't over-saturated and dead. Movies are hard for everyone right now. And in lean times, women will always be the first sent back home and out of the work force.More Info: Don't Knock the Rock Festival
But now more than ever it's possible to make your films and get them seen without waiting for permission from the movie studio gods. Keep writing, keep focused and don't for a second lose the faith. We're here to stay.