Rural Route Film Festival 2005

For those unable to flee the city this weekend, there's the Rural Route Film Festival, whose third annual program of six features and more than two dozen shorts includes leisurely tours of Southern BBQ pits and an organic turnip farm. "Grass is always greener," as they say: Surveying Rural Route fare from the apparently enviable heartland has this ambivalent Minnesotan longing for New York, where the opening-night screening of Jarmusch's Dead Man (free Pabst in the lobby!) will be followed by the live freak-folk of the Brooklyn-based Akron/Family—that is, by a cowpoke's rhythm rather than his aroma. Wanting what we can't have is also the theme of Spring Night Summer Night, a discomfiting drama of Appalachian poverty and possible incest made in the mid '60s and unseen in the 35 years since it screened at MOMA (and at drive-ins under the name Miss Jessica Is Pregnant). Shooting on location in southeastern Ohio, with college theater vets as the feuding young lovers who might share a dad, director J.L. Anderson didn't seek to dispel hillbilly stereotypes any more aggressively than, say, Shelby Lee Adams has. (Close-ups of gnawing and slurping mouths abound.) Spring Night Summer Night is like a slow swig of Blatz on a dusty road—and maybe the missing link between Shadows and The Last Picture Show.

 
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