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Haskell Wexler

This weekend, revered filmmaker Haskell Wexler will screen his reality- blurring film Medium Cool, starring Robert Forster and Verna Bloom, in which a television reporter’s fictional life is set against the very real backdrop of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Wexler, best known for his work in the cinematographer’s chair on classics including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, directed the film and actually shot it at the convention. Yeah, the one where Hubert Humphrey was harangued by protesters inside the convention and major riots broke out in Chicago. (Talk about difficult production conditions.) But the film thrives on the tension and the actors responding to the very real confusion and bustle around them. It is a powerful, albeit somewhat fictional, record of 1968 America.

After the film is shown, Wexler will be joined by Pamela Yates, director of several socially conscious documentaries, for a discussion and reception. Presented in conjunction with the folks from the Woodstock Film Festival, the screening and talk will be at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio (399 Central Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday, March 26) at 7 PM. Tickets are $7. For more information, call 465-5233.

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra

Antibalas means anti-bullets or bulletproof in Spanish, and this 14-piece ensemble use forceful lefty lyrics and a big Afrobeat sound as their ammo. Following in the tradition of Fela Kuti, Antibalas’ style makes use of blazing horns and a rhythm section with serious command of a groove to buttress their fierce tunes sung in English, Yoruba, and Spanish. The members are a cross section of cultures, which is perhaps part of the point: Their intention is to unify people with cross-cultural understanding and constructive messages of love.

Join the sociopolitical dance party tomorrow (Friday, March 26) at 8 PM when Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra take the stage upstairs at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave, Albany). Tickets are $10 for the 18-and-over show. For more information, call 432-6572.

Dogs of Desire

The Albany Symphony Orchestra are smack-dab in the middle of the Key (as in Key Bank) American Music Festival, arguably their most exciting event of the season. So far, various permutations of the ASO have performed new works, by American composers, in various hallowed halls in the State Capitol and across the river in one of their usual haunts, the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. The ASO’s new-music ensemble, Dogs of Desire, will perform tomorrow (Friday) in Troy, but in a venue more associated with rock & roll: Revolution Hall.

As their press release proudly notes, “Since 1994 the Dogs have commissioned over 50 new works from emerging American composers. . . . [and have] gained a national reputation among young composers as a proving ground for emerging talent.” Tomorrow night, maestro David Alan Miller will turn the Dogs loose on newly commissioned works from eight composers: Ken Eberhard, Philippe Bodin, Dana Wilson, Dan Roumain, Arthur Bloom, Huang Ro, Dan Cooper and Randell Eng. All are well-known, accomplished fellows. It has been generally publicized that there will be a multimedia aspect to the evening, and we have it on good authority that this will, at various points, be exceedingly weird. In a good way, we hope.

ASO’s Dogs of Desire will perform tomorrow (Friday, March 26) at 8 PM at Revolution Hall (421-425 River St., Troy). Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. For reservations and information, call the ASO box office at 465-4755.

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