July 13, 2006
LA’s Rockers film fest expands musical horizons
By Chris Morris
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - When the Mods & Rockers
Film Festival hits the American Cinematheque at Hollywood's
Egyptian Theater and Santa Monica's Aero Theater for its annual
outing, it will sport a slightly different slant.
the 1960s English comedies "Bedazzled" and "The Bed Sitting
Room," the rock-based movie festival, co-produced by Martin
Lewis and the Cinematheque's Chris D., will screen more than 60
features during its six-week run. But the scope of its
offerings is broader this year, both chronologically and
When Lewis undertook the festival seven years ago, it was
'60s-focused, and -- befitting Lewis' English origins --
programmed with a decidedly Anglophilic skew.
Lewis explains, "1999 was the year of the second Austin
Powers film . . . There were sly references to various '60s
films in there, so (we thought), wouldn't it be fun to show the
The narrowcasting of the festival is defined by its name:
The mods (English teens who favored contemporary music) and
rockers (successors to the "Teddy Boys" who adored old rock 'n'
roll) actually held sway in Britain for a few short years in
the mid-'60s -- a period memorably captured in the Who's
Lewis, a noted authority on the Beatles, is himself
grounded in '60s lore. But he began to rethink the direction of
the festival after he started working on Little Steven Van
Zandt's "Underground Garage" channel on Sirius satellite radio.
"Steven said, 'Rock 'n' roll is a continuum,"' Lewis says.
"Among the many things that are wrong with radio, radio
segregates everything by decade. (On Sirius) we're playing Gene
Vincent and Eddie Cochran, then the Strokes and the White
Stripes. He said, 'Why limit yourself to movies of the '50s and
While ranging farther afield, this year's Mods & Rockers
Festival remains true to its roots. There will be a weeklong
salute to Elvis Presley; screenings of quintessential English
pop movies like "A Hard Day's Night," "Privilege," "Having a
Wild Weekend" and "Wonderwall"; and unspoolings of '60s kitsch
like "Beach Party, "Ski Party" and "Surf Party."
But hippiedom and even the punk era will be explored as
well. Highlighting the festival are "Everyone Stares: The
Police Inside Out," a new documentary about the '70s new wave
megagroup by its drummer Stewart Copeland, and "Who Is Harry
Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?)," a feature
about the '70s pop singer-songwriter and intimate of John
Also on view: "Urgh! A Music War," a record of a two-night
1980 punk/new wave extravaganza at the Santa Monica Civic
Auditorium; "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains," the
little-seen 1981 comedy about an all-girl punk band starring
Diane Lane; and such latter-day rock musicals as "Flashdance"
and (in a singalong version) "Grease."
Special events on tap include an exhibit at the Egyptian by
photographer Henry Diltz, who captured many of the most iconic
rock images of the '60s and early '70s; a free August 5 talk at
the Egyptian by Michael Walker, author of the current
bestseller "Laurel Canyon: Rock 'n' Roll's Legendary
Neighborhood"; and multiple performances of "Great
Exploitation's!" Lewis' own one-man spiel about his life in the
Despite the festival's broader palette, Lewis remains a
true '60s believer. "There really was a renaissance," he says.
"There was an alchemy . . . There was this incredible
(Chris Morris hosts "Watusi Rodeo" on Indie 103.1 in Los
Angeles from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. every Sunday.