Beyond Chron review of 575 Castro St.

The San Francisco International Film Festival press office just sent me clippings of coverage they got for my short when it played the festival in May. Consider me extremely impressed! And thrilled about this quite substantial review from BeyondChron:
"The titular "575 Castro Street" of Jenni Olson’s short is the address of slain supervisor Harvey Milk’s camera shop. Viewers of the film “Milk” know this shop as the base for the gay leader’s political runs for office. But the shop also processed the Super 8 studies in light and motion that became the basis for the San Franicsco Gay Film Festival.

Olson’s short pays homage to both these legacies. Visually, the viewer is treated to static shots of the shop’s interior, which was meticulously reconstructed for “Milk.” Reflections from the outside traffic resemble rivers of quietly flowing light. The effect renders the shop as a contemplative shrine.

The audio track will rattle certain viewers’ cages. Despite being recorded over three decades ago, Harvey Milk’s posthumous post-assassination message still has the power to discomfit. His reminders about the evils of organized religion, complacency in the LGBT community, and those who put their egos above the movement is still timely advice that has been sometimes ignored in the decades after his death.

Olson’s union of these two individually powerful elements creates a mournful whole. Milk’s monologue feels like wind whispering through a mausoleum. But it also stimulates the viewer’s imagination to visualize the many political meetings in that shop and to muse over the sociopolitical changes brought to the LGBT community by ensuing decades. Unmediated by Sean Penn, Milk’s voice still compels."


In the early 70's, the Castro was in change from a sleepy neighborhood in the Eureka Valley. Like Harvey, I was a transplant... except from Chicago. I arrived in the early 60's at the tail-end of the beatnik era and that was followed by Hippies,Flower Children, "the Summer of Love" the peace mongers and war protesters. To start the 1970s, I moved between the Haight and the Castro and made a living as a freelance photographer and publicist that specialized in gay clients and businesses. I used to display my photos in a Castro St. bakery shop...
just a short distance from today's Harvey Milk Plaza. I had my film developed at a new camera shop a block away... called Harvey Milk. We became friends. His shop became like a small town's general store... without the potbelly stove. People came in to talk politics, pet Harvey's dog... or comment on the never ending supply of good looking young men who passed in front of his store front window. We didn't know then... that it would become the center of the gay rights movement or become a historical marker as such... thankfully for the "Milk" movie... millions of people, young and old, gay and straight, here in America and around the world now know of him and that era. Somewhere, today there is a new Harvey Milk waiting to be discovered... and the sooner, the better!

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