Growing from a two-day festival in its first year to five days last year and now a plus-sized, 10-day, multivenue event, the Everything Is Festival is transforming into the end-of-summer party that organizers have long envisioned it to be. Certainly it neatly encapsulates the overlapping missions of the Cinefamily and the found-footage collective Everything Is Terrible.
There's a know-it-when-you-see-it intuitiveness to the mix of outsider movies, cat videos, disreputable action, art, comedy and just plain weirdness.
"We just keep calling it a gonzo celebration of found footage, fun, creativity, madness," says Everything Is Terrible member Dimitri Simakis, co-director of the festival with Cinefamily's Hadrian Belove. "We don't want to exclude anything. If there's something we're interested in, we want to put it in there. It's funny how much sense it makes to everybody. As random as it seems on the surface, it sort of flows together. Everything fits."
This year's festival, titled Everything Is Festival III: The Domination, opens with the Cinespia all-night summer camp movie marathon, including Wet Hot American Summer and Little Darlings, Aug. 18 at Hollywood Forever Cemetery before pushing on the next night to the Saban Theatre for Cinematic Titanic, with the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing their way through Ted V. Mikels' 1973 The Doll Squad. CT/MST member Joel Hodgson also will be part of a show-and-tell presentation at home-base venue Cinefamily on Aug. 20 that will include looks at unaired television pilots.
Among other guests through the run of the festival will be "the female Chuck Norris," action sensation Cynthia Rothrock; a talent show featuring "Parks and Recreation" star Nick Offerman; some lady wrestlers from the documentary G.L.O.W.: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, about the all-female 1980s wrestling TV show; and a keynote presentation by artist Wayne White.
In what could be the year's signature event, Aug. 25 offers a program called "The Feline Gaze: The Art of the Cat Film." This isn't just Internet cat videos — though there will be a preview of the upcoming cat video program from Minneapolis' Walker Art Center — but rather a full-on history of cats in cinema. The evening includes a screening of the short CatCam, a festival sensation in which a man attached a camera to his cat and let the animal roam.
The festival wraps up Aug. 28 at downtown's Orpheum Theater with a reunion of the cast and creators of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, the short-lived, now-beloved mid-'90s Nickelodeon kids show. The series has grown in stature as kids who saw it originally have grown into adults nostalgic for a show already tinged with a nostalgic wistfulness.
"I always think of the show as a great record that you love and no one else seems to know about — it's your private special record," says Will McRobb, who created the show with Chris Viscardi. "That's Pete and Pete to a lot of people. And then you get to hang out with a whole bunch of other people who are in on the secret and that's pretty cool, too."
While something like Pete and Pete might have more marquee value, the real heart of the Everything Is Festival is more like the 1987 martial arts film Miami Connection or the unreleased '80s musical Rock 'n' Roll Hotel, a movie so rare it will be screened from a collector's VHS tape. Neither Belove nor Simakis will have even seen Hotel before it shows at the festival, testing the waters for the first time with everyone else.
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With its bold and strange mix of, well, the bold and the strange, Everything Is Festival III: The Domination captures a sense of discovery and sharing intended perhaps most of all to light a fire of more crazy creativity within its audience, a circle of self-generating fun.
"The temptation is to say, 'This is about what's going on today, man,' but the reality is there's something old-fashioned about it," Belove says. "This is what festivals are supposed to be, finding and celebrating things.
"We're just trying to round up 2012, right now, what are we, the collective we, the capital-W we, all excited about? That might be cat videos, it might be Nick Offerman. But what's bubbling to the surface? This is like the Venn diagram of what we're interested in together."
EVERYTHING IS FESTIVAL III: THE DOMINATION | Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., and other venues | Aug. 18-28 | cinefamily.org