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Gather 'Round the Big Screen

Back Alley Film Festival
7 p.m., Saturday, May 26
Bison Witches Bar and Deli Parking Lot
326 N. Fourth Ave.
740-1541;backalleyfilmfestival.com

Sick of overpriced movie tickets? Want to see independent films from all over the world--for free? If so, look to the Back Alley Film Festival for hours of free film entertainment this Memorial Day weekend.

In this, the ninth Back Alley Film Festival, Tucson-based JerseyBoy Productions will offer an alternative way of viewing movies--under the stars.

This year's festival promises to wow cinema fans with independent films from all over the world, says festival coordinator Joshua Dragotta.

"People will be getting a taste of films they might not get a chance to see," says Dragotta, a filmmaker himself.

About 20 short films, including some from Tucson filmmakers, will be shown on a large projector in the alley behind Bison Witches. Independent films shown in past alley festivals have gone on to be official selections at festivals like Sundance and Slamdance in Park City, Utah.

The unique outdoor atmosphere provides an opportunity unlike any other--and it beats waiting in long lines at theaters.

"We always rent chairs, but we have people standing, too," says Dragotta. "Everybody has such a great time."

So grab a pal, fill up on the free popcorn and get to the alley if you want to experience independent films you won't see anywhere else. The festival is free, but organizers will be accepting donations. For more information, visit backalleyfilmfestival.com. --L.H.


Climate Change 101

"Global Warming: Answer the Call"
with Elna Otter
6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 29
Woods Memorial Library, 3455 N. First Ave.
791-4548

Elna Otter has been interested in climate change since she took a trip around the world in 1990.

"I was traveling the world and meeting people," Otter says. "Everywhere I went, there were people who were experiencing drastic climate change. I met some Australians who were experiencing severe droughts, but they all thought it was only in their area. I think that was part of the disinformation."

A former UA electrical-engineering instructor, Otter recently returned from Al Gore's global-warming training project in Nashville, Tenn., where Gore is training thousands to deliver his An Inconvenient Truth slideshow to people in their hometowns. She'll give this lecture at the Woods library on Tuesday, May 29.

She's customized Gore's lecture for a local audience, inserting her own slides with information about desert hydrology and temperature patterns for Arizona.

"I can't give his presentation, but I can give my presentation," says Otter, who now lives in Cascabel, Ariz.

Otter draws on her experience as a Sierra Club volunteer and her studies of desert hydrology to help spread the word about climate change.

"Americans finally believe that global warming exists," Otter says. "The same people who years ago said global warming doesn't exist, that we couldn't possibly have caused a problem so big, are now saying the problem is too big, and we can't change it. We need to jump-start change, and encourage the government to help us."

The talk will be hosted by the Owl and Panther project, a creative-writing and art workshop for refugee families, run by the Hopi Foundation Center for Prevention and Resolution of Violence for refugee families. --T.M.


Celebrating the Worst

"The Very Bad Movie's Bad Birthday Bash"
7 p.m., Saturday, May 26
The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
322-5638

Good bad movies are hard to find these days. This is why The Very Bad Movie show exists--to help you get a weekly dose of awful.

The My Tucson TV show was launched a year ago to give viewers a chance to appreciate really, really bad movies.

Brian Baltosiewich, the producer of the show, says he started showing bad movies late at night on KTTU Channel 18, because the station had rights to hundreds of awful old movies that "weren't good enough to show in the daytime."

"It hits home for a lot of us here who grew up in the days before cable, those of us who grew up when the only thing on in the afternoon was these old movies," Baltosiewich says.

To celebrate, the Loft will be showing Plan 9 From Outer Space, which Loft programming director Jeff Yanc says is probably one of the best worst movies out there.

"We wanted to find a really good bad movie," Yanc says. "We wanted to find one that's just really awful. It's almost surreal how bad it is."

Yanc says Plan 9 has "everything you'd want in a bad movie," including graveyards (where tombstones are made of cardboard and get knocked over by the actors in mid-scene), horrible acting (stumbled-over lines the director apparently never bothered to refilm) and horrible sets (which include paper plates hanging from the ceiling as flying saucers)--making the movie a classic.

My Tucson TV will film the bash and broadcast it on the show hours later at 11p.m. Admission to the bash is $5, and all proceeds go to the Loft. --T.M.


Chill With the "Saxman"

Marion Meadows in Concert
7:30 P.M., Sunday, May 27
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N. Resort Drive 903-1265

Spend a relaxing evening indulging in sultry saxophone music as the sun sets over Tucson this Sunday, when the Tucson Jazz Society and Loews Ventana Canyon Resort bring the soulful jazz and R&B sounds of "Saxman" Marion Meadows and his band to town.

Meadows assures Tucson jazz fans that his performance will be full of energy.

"We're not your typical jazz band," says Meadows.

His albums provide an eclectic and artistic mix of soprano saxophone, piano and percussion, combined for an ultra-cool style of contemporary jazz. His most recent release, Dressed to Chill, satisfies every facet of sophistication and class.

Meadows' immense passion for music has continued to flourish for the past two decades--with many of his albums reaching the Top 10 of the Billboard Music Charts.

Residing in Phoenix, Meadows says he is looking forward to the performance in Tucson ("It's close to home.") and assures jazz fans it will be a special treat. For Meadows, the most rewarding aspect of live music is the excitement it generates for an audience, he says.

Tickets are $25 at the door, and $20 for Tucson Jazz Society Members. Tickets are available at

tucsonjazz.org and at any Bookmans location. --L.H.

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