Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Berkeley" the film

Last Saturday I saw the feature film Berkeley, which is playing for a week at the Sunset 5 movie theater on Sunset strip. Berkeley was a look back at a the years1968-1970 through the eyes of Ben Sweet, a college freshman at UC Berkeley. Though working on a tiny budget as an independent film, the movie did capture it's hero Ben Sweet's transformation from a conservative golf-playing accounting major who plans on entering his father's carpet business to a radicalized rock musician young protester. Most independent films are focused on tiny apolitical themes, but this film is audacious, aiming at showing epic personal and social transformations.

Henry Winkler did a fine job as the hero's father who is appalled at his son's actions while Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave is good as the hero's housemate Vietnam veteran. Bonnie Bedalia also does a fine piece as Ben Sweet's professor/mentor. In one of the funnier scene's Sweet tells his professor that he doesn't want to go to work for Ronald Reagan, while she tells him she does work for Reagan as he signs all her paychecks! The film makes good use of music from the period, including County Joe McDonald's music. County Joe composed a special song which ends the film and also Morello plays in the band that Sweet and his friends form.

Afterwards, as a surprise out came the filmmakers to talk to us: Bobby Roth, the writer/director; Jefferey White, the producer; Nick Roth, the lead actor who is the son of Bobby Roth; and Steve Burns, the Director of Photography. The filmmakers said they didn't pay for any locations but basically snuck onto the UC Berkeley campus to shoot. When someone from Berkeley noticed this, s/he notified Roth who then did pay for a small fee. Both Roth, the writer/director, and White, the producer, went to Berkeley in the late 1960s while Nick Roth graduated from Berkeley in 2006.

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