Oakland Hosts the Drunken Film Festival

Jax Griffin has a bright idea: show films in pubs, in Oakland.


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What could be better than watching films in pubs?

Photo courtesy Drunken Film Fest

Just a couple years ago, an enterprising lady named Jax Griffin in the West Yorkshire city of Bradford had the bright idea of showing films in pubs. The Drunken Film Fest, named to reflect Griffin’s stated goal of getting people “drunk on film,” tapped a keg at a different establishment every day for a week, luring moviegoers to various and possibly unfamiliar neighborhoods. The menu consisted of short films of every genre, and the price was, as they say in England, nil.

For the first-ever Drunken Film Fest outside of Bradford, Griffin chose — wait for it — Oakland. Pretty cool, huh? (“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into Oaktown’s,” an elated, modern-day Rick Blaine might say.) The pub crawl runs Oct. 7-12, beginning at the Layover on Sunday and shutting off the projector at Classic Cars West on Friday. The weeknight schedule (in order) consists of the Stay Gold Deli, Lost & Found, Telegraph Beer Garden, and Eli’s Mile High Club.

If the movies are curated anywhere near as well as the bars — and perhaps even if they’re not — the Drunken Film Festival has “winner” stamped all over it. The irreverent moniker and whiskey-stained venues may imply that what’s onscreen is intended as accompaniment rather than main attraction, but Drunken Film Festival-Oakland director and programmer Arlin Goldin (who’s programmed Bradford’s documentary lineup from afar since the beginning) asserts otherwise. Indeed, the Oct. 7 program alone includes narrative shorts from Peru and Belgium, documentaries from Portugal and Oakland, animated movies from Belarus and the United States, and an avant-garde work from Ghana. And every night offers an entirely fresh lineup, providing a terrific incentive to pop a cork at a different joint all week long. As Blaine might put it, “Drunken, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Drunken Film Festival, Oct. 7-12, free, various bars, Oak-land, DrunkenFilmFest.com.

This report was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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