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Bay Area filmmaker Rob Nilsson presents the complete 9 @ Night series, a compilation of nine feature films he produced over the last decade in collaboration with the Tenderloin yGroup, an inner-city acting and production workshop Nilsson developed in the San Francisco Tenderloin. With a “Direct Action” aesthetic influenced by the pioneering work of John Cassavetes, and a structure inspired by Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue, the nine black-and-white films have individual and independent stories, but they share recurring characters and interrelated themes.
In the first of the 9 @ Night series, convicted counterfeiter Ben Malafide (Robert Viharo) gets out of prison after 20 years and ends up in the Tenderloin. Seeking the bare essentials to make ends meet, he confronts the Information Age, a barrage of images and noises that offer neither knowledge nor heart. With Paige Olson, Edwin Johnson. (US 2002) 80 minutes.
Certain he’s been betrayed, Malafide (Robert Viharo) leaves his lover and hops freights to Reno to find a Cherokee healer he met in prison named People T. Joined by a black homeless man named Johnny (Edwin Johnson), they set out into the desolate beauty of the Nevada desert. (US 2007) 84 min.
Spoddy (Michael Disend) is the arrogant owner of an automotive “chop shop” who discovers he is HIV positive. Rejected by those he’s used, he finds sanctuary with the people he has always despised, the homeless. (US 2003) 109 min.
Estranged from his longtime girlfriend, suburban accountant Perry (James Carpenter) wanders into the Tenderloin at night and is drawn into a series of dangerous and erotic encounters. With Barbara Jasperson, Domenique Lozano. (US 2000) 75 min.
Johnny (Edwin Johnson), now working for Malafide, finds and rescues Phil (Teddy Weiler), an aging Beat poet who has had a stroke. Ray Carney writes: “In Stroke (a punning title), the touch of a woman’s hand, the kindness of a friend, or the sound of a voice can give the hopeless fleeting hope.” (US 2000) 95 min.
Bid (Cory Duval) is a self-styled rebel on a motorcycle determined to prove to his father Qually (Bruce Marovich), a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department, that he can live outside the law, without family, friends or even a place to stay. With Monica Cortes Viharo, David Fine. (US 2001) 97 min.
Jane (Marianne Heath) is a stripper, her mother Lou (Brette McCabe) an aging prostitute defying the pimps. Petite (Diane Gaidry) robs johns, and Francesca (Gabriel Maltz Larkin) manages an escort service. In a profession that thrives on fantasy and martyrdom, these four women struggle to hold on to their reasons for caring for each other. Producer: Beth LaDove (US 2005) 97 min.
Ex-convict Pan (Kieron McCartney) tries to father a group of street people in a homeless encampment by the railroad. Into their lives comes Bobby (Nighttrain Schickele), a lonely latchkey kid who follows Pan out there. Critic David Templeton writes: “Pan makes heartrending visual poetry out of the iconic images of trains and railroad tracks… ” (US 2006) 96 min.
The culmination of the series takes self-referential and expressionistic curves, as a couple (Denny Dey and Michelle Anton Allen) struggle with the survival of both their marriage and the failing Oakland art cinema they own… ironically showing the 9 @ Night movies. Homeless gather in the alleys, and the theater itself wants to speak to them. (US 2007) 100 min.