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Movies to Be Projected onto SF's Coit Tower to Mark 40th Anniversary of Alcatraz Occupation
Created by Kimberlee Sakamoto on 11/25/2009 9:40:00 AM

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- On Wednesday and Thursday night, San Francisco's Coit Tower will  once again be transformed into a cylindrical movie screen, projecting films  about the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz to mark the event's 40th  anniversary.

Starting at about sundown on Wednesday, a series of films dealing  with the region's American Indian heritage will be projected all around the  tower. Several focus on the island's nearly two-year occupation by the group  Indians of All Tribes that began in November 1969.

The large-scale movie display is the work of local artists and  collaborators Ben Wood and David Mark. They will use three high-powered  projectors placed on separate Telegraph Hill rooftops to transform the tower  into a 360-degree series of movies screens, each 210 feet high by 60 feet  wide. Mark, who works in both art and cinematography, uses sophisticated  software to ensure the high-definition images aren't distorted as they wrap  around Coit Tower's curved and grooved exterior.

The series of films will run consecutively all night until sunup,  and again starting at sundown on Thursday. Viewers can tune to radio station  KPOO at 89.5 for accompanying audio during the evenings.

This is the first time images will be shown on all sides of the  tower, according to Mark. The pair has worked together on several Coit Tower  projection projects since 2004, when they orchestrated a July 4 display of a  silent film about the local Ohlone Indian tribe.

In 2006, the duo displayed images from the 1906 earthquake as part  of the citywide commemoration of the event. Their events, which include  several other Coit Tower projections, have become progressively more  sophisticated but all focus on the Bay Area's varied cultural heritage.

"Most cities in the U.S. do not have a vantage point of a monument  set up like Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower," he said.

In addition to Telegraph Hill, Mark said the display will be  visible in the North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf, Russian Hill, Chinatown  neighborhoods, and the northern part of the Financial District.

Reaction to previous projects has been positive, he said. "In some  cases people see the movie and start walking up the hill to watch it close  up."

The films include original works, as well as parts of the popular  2001 public television piece Alcatraz is Not an Island.

On Tuesday, the organizers reviewed their playlists, determining the  different order in which movies will play on the tower's three sides, Wood  said. There is also the small matter of transporting 150-pound projectors,  18-inch telephoto lenses and other equipment up to three surrounding  rooftops.

Mark and Wood, both graduates of the San Francisco Art Institute,  were introduced through a professor during their student days. When the pair  first submitted their idea to the city's Recreation and Park Department, they  had to make several presentations to gain approval. Wood recalled thinking,  "they're never going to go for this, it's just too crazy."

The local Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood association has  helped locate appropriate rooftops for the project, Wood said.

The projection is one of several events marking the 40th  anniversary of the day a group of about 80 American Indians landed on  Alcatraz, planning to occupy the shuttered federal prison in the name of  Native American tribes.

The group was composed of American Indian students and  urban-dwelling American Indians from around the Bay Area, according to the  National Park Service. Leaders demanded the deed to the island so they could  establish a university, cultural center and museum dedicated to American  Indians.

Individuals remained through June 1971, when FBI agents, federal  marshals and other government officers removed the remaining handful of  dwellers, according to the NPS. The occupation was highly controversial at  the time, but garnered national attention for the country's policies  concerning American Indians and national policies toward tribal territories.
(Copyright 2009, Bay City News, All rights reserved.)  



  11/25/2009 1:47:56 PM
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