A From The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords Pittsburgh Courier Archives BOOKS & THE CULTURE Sundance Without Snow Trolling the Celluloid at South by Southwest BY STEVEN G. KELLMAN ex and sports are they not interchangeable? drew hordes to Austin theaters dur ing the South by Southwest Film Festival, March 12-20. “I believe that sex is good enough to die for,” declared Annabel Chong, who appeared live at a crowded Saturday night screening of SEX: The Annabel Chong Story. Chong, who was born Grace Quek in Singapore, could be called the Wilt Chamberlain of fornication, if the Stilt himself had not already retired the title. But for a brief period, as documented by SEX, Chong held the public record for concentrated copulation 251 men in ten hours. The next night, Wadd: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes, documented the rise and demise of another prodigious porn star. With eighty entries in nine days, SXSW encourages cinematic acrobats, viewers of steady gaze and sturdy butt. It is almost impossible to see everything in the festival and difficult to generalize about the shorts, longs, animations, live-actions, documentaries, and narratives chosen for screening at the annual event. And with Home Page, a record of Doug Block’s adventures in Web culture, the SXSW experience need never end. That film concludes with the e-mail addresses of Block himself \(d-word.com the Internetters he meets along the way. No one but Rhett Butler ever succeeded in talking back to Scarlett O’Hara, but this is an interactive movie where anyone with a modem and moxy can prolong acquaintance with people on the screen. One image that lingers on my mental monitor after many hours in the dark in Austin is that of figures in a ring scrappers with gloves on their hands and blood on their noses. Two separate entries at SXSW, On the Ropes and In My Comer, set out to study the subculture of a New York boxing gym. The Bed Stuy Boxing Club, in Brooklyn, is the setting and subject for On the Ropes, while Ricki Stern hung out at the Bronxchester Boxing Club in the South Bronx in order to make In My Corner. With On the Ropes, directors Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen follow three local contenders, including a woman, Tyrene, as they train for battle and try, unsuccessfully, to stay out of trouble. The film also records the hopes and disappointments of their trainer, Harry, who offers his troubled protgs, and himself, grace through measured combat. Focusing on two younger boxers who attract the interest of famous trainer Luis Camacho and his disciple Angel, In My Corner studies the strained relations between talented, endangered adolescents and the middle-aged men who take them under their wing and into the ring. A more epic take on the sporting life is offered by Aviva Kempner, in her study of a legendary first baseman from baseball’s heroic era. The Life & Times of Hank Greenberg recounts the eventful career of the famous Detroit slugger, who got an early boost by leading Beaumont to championship of the Texas League in 1932. Playing in the majors for the Tigers, Greenberg finished 1938 two home runs shy of Babe Ruth’s majestic sixty. When Alan Dershowitz tells the camera, “He might have been the single most important Jew to live in the 1930s,” the Harvard law professor might not be doing justice to Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin, and Leon Trotsky. But Dershowitz, Carl Levin, Dick Schaap, Walter Matthau, and others testify to how, during an era when anti-Semitism was overt and rampant, the hardy, handsome Greenberg offered anxious fellow Jews the possibility of achievement within Ameri 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 16, 1999
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