CURATOR TO CURATOR: DIMITRI SIMAKIS ON “EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE”

As a curator for Other Cinema Digital and elsewhere, I made a point of screening the most obscure and bizarre films I could lay my hands on. It takes a warped, obsessive mind to dwell in the nether regions of cinematic esoterica and an almost Quixotean drive to convince an audience to wallow in your unorthodox sensibilities.

My series “Curator To Curator” will be a chance to talk shop with other film and video programmers who specialize in offbeat audiovisual work. The first installment is a chat with Dimitri Simakis about his wildly popular blog/festival/movement “Everything Is Terrible!”

EIT began as a group of friends, a bong, and a VCR at Ohio University. The kids searched thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales for the tackiest VHS tapes in the world. They did not come back empty-handed. Have you ever wanted to see a man dressed in a yellow dinosaur suit teach children how to protect themselves from pedophiles? Then go here.

After a barrage of viral videos and two feature-length DVD’s. EIT expanded into a festival of found footage, fringe culture, and 80s overload. Featured guests have included Joe Dante (“The Movie Orgy”), Firesign Theatre, and Mark Hosler from Negativland. The EIT gang wrapped up the second edition of their festival at Cinefamily earlier this month so Dimitri had a chance to unwind and spill his guts.

What was the most unexpected comment you received about this year’s festival?
So much crazy shit was said during the entire festival, and it was just one surreal moment after another.  I was freaking out during the entire fest, trying to make sure everyone was having the best time possible. By the end, we were all just drained.

Then on the last day, right before we screened Joe Dante’s found footage masterpiece, “The Movie Orgy” (which blew me away), Mark Hosler of Negativland approached me to tell me how great this all was and how important it is to remember that it’s not about the films or events we showed, but about the positive vibe and good energy everyone had all weekend.

When I told him how scared I had been leading up to it all, like an angel, he simply said “Stay scared.”  I would get that tattooed on my face to remember, but I’ll never forget!  By the way, Mr. Hosler is an amazing man and I kind of wish he would adopt me.  I also heard about 100 people tell me their face melted off. So mission accomplished!

What makes a piece of found footage interesting to you?
A lot can go into it, but I’m a real dummy when it comes to that sort of thing and I want immediate insanity all the time. I want it to yank me in right away and take me along for the ride.  As a huge fan of softballs like “Death Promise” (amazing film – ed.), you know right from the title sequence this movie is going to rule and rule hard.  However, a slow burn like “Facial Magic” can also be insane if you’re patient enough for the right moment of subtle madness.  A lot of editing goes into most pieces, and so It just depends on the mood I’m in, I suppose. But as Rilke said ‘Every angel is terrible.’

Tell us about the most interesting VHS tape you acquired in the last 30 days?
I just got a tape last night entitled “Alfred & Seymour: 2’s A Crowd aka Blackstreet Boyz GONE WILD!!! Limited Edition.”  Very DIY cover, and the back just shows a picture of two dudes smirking with cartoon bubbles: ‘Which way to Hollywood?’ and ‘Houston, we have a problem!’  If that wasn’t enough to fork over Amoeba’s 99¢ asking prince, it says below their picture ‘They do live no topless table dancing, some soft corn, plenty of asses, and hard core comedy.’  I have not watched this yet, but even if the tape is blank, I couldn’t care less.  I win.

The initial reaction of audiences who watch your found footage compilations is one of amusement. Goofy footage of 80’s televangelists naturally provokes laughter. However, I am curious about your own relationship to this material. What motivates you to watch countless hours of this footage day and night? Nostalgia? Transcendence? Something else?
Darn, I was kind of hoping you would be able to tell me that because I don’t know anymore.  A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are trying to tap into an alternate universe where everything is a little fucked up.  For example, Christian puppet tapes are EVERYWHERE. Explaining God to people is super-awkward, so you gotta get ‘em young.

We got thousands upon thousands of tapes that would make Jim Henson and Jesus cry.  Does that make any sense?  All we do is open to the door to that universe and let the wonder seep in. Maybe you could call it “Analog Alchemy.”  I’m gonna coin that term.

Tell us about your future plans for “Everything Is Terrible!”
Oh man, I am so excited about our next project that I want to puke! Commodore Gilgamesh and I are working on ‘DoggieWoggiez PoochieWoochiez!’  It will be a remake of Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain” but with footage taken exclusively from dog movies.  It’s going to murder us, but we are planning to tour the country once again early next year. We promise our live show will be unforgettable, and will involve singing, dancing, pooching, and wooching. Seriously…GET READY.




Posted on August 8, 2011 in Features by
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