Are you mind-controlled? That’s the question that Lost Film Fest video-jockey Scott Beibin wants an answer to, at least according to the advertisements for the unique, world-traveling, decidedly liberal show that landed – in the form of a strange, flashing saucer-like object – in front of Storke Tower on Monday evening.
Those who stuck around throughout the festival’s duration, despite increasingly cold and windy weather as the night wore on, were treated to a humorous, thought-provoking, although one-sided, criticism of the modern mainstream media and American politics.
The film festival has been traveling all over since its inception on Beibin’s home turf in West Philadelphia back in 1999, the product of a collaboration between Beibin and two 17-year-old kids.
“We had two days of films, bands, a punk-rock haircut booth… and it was great. We had over a thousand people come.”
The attention-attracting UFO was actually a generator that fully powered the Insomniac Cinema and KCSB co-sponsored screening, which was projected from Beibin’s laptop onto the side of UCSB’s tallest monument. In between screening clips, Beibin provided narration.
One of the first clips Beibin cued up was a craftily edited montage of compiled news footage made during the last presidential election called “World of Evil,” which painted a frightening picture of American politicians’ rhetoric on the so-called “war on terror.”
The films that followed were no less controversial: They explored paranoia, conspiracy theories, certain Republican politicians and America’s views on torture. The latter was illustrated through an animated cartoon stylized like popular retro children’s cartoon characters, called “So You Want to Be a Guantanamo Bay Prison Interrogator.”
The festival’s longest offering came in the form of an amusing-yet-unsettling “documentary” by filmmaker Richard Pell about Robert Lansberry called “Don’t Call Me Crazy on the Fourth of July.” Lansberry is a homeless Vietnam War vet who has attracted a good deal of attention to himself over the past couple of decades by his unflinching conviction that the FBI has been withholding his mail and that he has been the subject of government-sponsored mind-control tests.
The show ended around 11:30 p.m. with a much-needed dance party, providing a bit of warmth to the few and dedicated remaining viewers.
One of the most difficult questions was left unanswered: What’s a person to do these days, with dangerously persuasive yet subtly (or, in this case, not-so-subtly) disguised propaganda being thrown at them from both sides of the political spectrum, and any concrete idea of a subjective “truth” becoming more and more elusive?