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Short Films Take a Closer Look at Strip Malls as Part of American Landscape

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Most people do their level best to overlook the endless miles of ugly billboards, roadside motels and strip malls that dot the American landscape. But two film makers decided to slow down and took a closer look.

Who says film making is glamorous? As you heard, I caught up with Roger Beebe and Bill Brown by phone in a Toledo motel room. It's kind of appropriate actually. Their tour brings them to Buffalo next for a presentation of their work, dubbed "Post-Capitalist Love Song."

The short films meditate on some of the physical byproducts of capitalism, via some of its least likely -- and perhaps least liked artifacts. Roger Beebe says it's not about liking this ugly stuff, but understanding it.

"The whole point of making that was to develop a coping mechanism," Beebe said. "I have no great love for strip malls. But they're here and what do we do?"

This kind of contemplation seems to be in style -- at least for the moment. Beebe and Brown says they arre encouraged by the recent swell of interest in documentaries. But Brown says he's not sure propaganda documentaries, such as Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," are dramatically different from "Spiderman" or realty shows. But he hopes the new popularity of documentaries will eventually translate to broader issues.

"It seems that this particular election cycle has gotten people interested in politics," Brown said. "I'm not sure what it will take to awaken people to consider the spaces they live in. That's still a harder nut to crack for people to be so radicalized about the environment they live in that they seek out 'Strip Mall Trilogies.' I'd love it if there was as much buzz about a film like that as there was about Fahrenheit 9/11."

The film makers present the multi-media screening of their "Post-Capitalist Love Song" at Squeaky Wheel on Elmwood, Monday night at 8.