Found Footage Festival 2011 | 04.17.11

There’s also a montage of clips from various videos called “Guy Stuff,” which, among other things, features a winner in something called Caverject: Plain Talk About Impotence.



Between QFest at the Hi-Pointe, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives at the Webster Film Series, and James Gunn on hand to talk about his new film Super at the Tivoli on Friday night, St. Louis is looking forward to a strong weekend for moviegoers. As if that weren’t enough, on Sunday only the Found Footage Fest is returning to the Mad Art Gallery with a whole new program. Last year they were here on Mother’s Day (I ditched my mom and went alone), and this year they’re here on Palm Sunday; I don’t know what it is with them booking their festival on no-fun holidays, but I’m happy to go nonetheless.

If you’re not familiar with the Found Footage Fest, here’s the short version of what you need to know: it’s hosted by two guys, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, who tour the country extensively with this festival. Dates leading up to and immediately after St. Louis are Champaign, Peoria, Chicago, Columbia, and Kansas City, this all within one week, and their tour is basically like that around the country, so anyone that wants to see them doesn’t ever have to drive very far. While touring they hit up thrift shops, garage sales, Goodwills, etc. for old VHS tapes that look funny or campy or stupid or deranged. They pick out the best of what they find (sometimes aided by like-minded trollers of the VHS bin), compile it into themed montages of clips, and show them on these tours, endlessly repeating the process.

They also release these shows on DVD, which are available on their website and at the show itself. I have not seen them live on this year’s tour but have seen the DVD, which is fun but not quite the same. For one thing it’s a lot of fun to watch this crap with as large an audience as possible, though I did find myself laughing goofily at the DVD alone in my apartment. Second, Nick and Joe do unobtrusively ‘host’ the show; this is replicated on the DVD, but you miss hearing them mock disgust (for probably the seventh time that week) at whatever weird stuff is on the screen at any given time.

This year’s program starts off strong with a montage of follies from a cable access show circa the mid-90s called Petpourri, which mostly entails animals misbehaving while the Timothy Treadwell-like host tries to maintain order. After some standard FFF fare such as workout video montage and a slide show of funny VHS covers, we get The Exorcist’s Linda Blair teaching an instructional video about how to get revenge (for real—it goes into how to most effectively let air out of someone’s tires, pump water through the mail slot in their house, etc.) and also a made-for-FFF celebrity appearance from Mr. Show’s Bob Odenkirk about how to behave in a seminar (after a montage of bad videos of seminars, logically enough).

 Petpourri aside, the strongest bits come at the end of the program, where you’re treated to a thoroughly creepy video called Rent-A-Friend (1986; it has a guy talking directly into the camera asking questions about your life and pausing long enough so that you can answer them, while sometimes sharing things from his own life). There’s also a montage of clips from various videos called “Guy Stuff,” which, among other things, features a winner in something called Caverject: Plain Talk About Impotence. And while it isn’t on the DVD, attendees at the live show will get to see the classic 1986 short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, which I’ve seen maybe a hundred times and love to death. (Heavy Metal Parking Lot is available on its own DVD, released by Factory 515.)

And of course this all takes place in the Mad Art Gallery, one of the most fun places to do much of anything in St. Louis—if you’ve never been there before all you need to know is that it’s a repurposed old jailhouse, replete with intact cells and bars and stuff, which they have turned into an art gallery and is a wonderful space for this type of thing. (I miss the days when they did Cine 16 there.) So while this is indeed a strong weekend for moviegoing in St. Louis, the Found Footage Festival is certainly worth your time and consideration—it’s a lot of fun, especially if you can round up some like-minded friends. | Pete Timmermann

This year’s edition of the Found Footage Fest is at the Mad Art Gallery (2727 S. 12th St. in Soulard) at 7 PM on April 17. Admission is $10. For more information or to check out some random videos to see what type of thing you’re in for, visit


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