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Independent films thrive in Calaveras


About two dozen people gathered to watch a documentary about a father and son from an affluent Long Island town who pleaded guilty to raping young boys.

No, this wasn't in San Francisco, but rather Angels Camp.

"Capturing the Friedmans," shown last Thursday, was part of the Angels Theatre's independent film series. This series, combined with a Columbia College course taught by the theater's manager, has made many Calaveras County residents think twice about how they view the world.

Most movies in the series have sell-out crowds. But last week's documentary was the lowest attended independent film the theater has shown in more than three years.

"It bothered a lot of people," said theater Manager Jeff Olson.

Olson, 33, said sometimes it's necessary to play a controversial movie to push the envelope.

"I didn't have any desire to go," Betty Morris, 82, of Murphys, said of the documentary. "It sounded kind of depressing."

But Tasha Unninayar said the independent films are always original and interesting. She's seen several independent films at the theater, including "Capturing the Friedmans."

"I would think the movies are exposing (people) to things and opening their minds," the 24-year-old Bar XX resident said.

‘Wonderful turnout'

Morris regularly attends the theater's independent film series in addition to an international film class Olson teaches in Murphys for Columbia College.

The class is held at Black Bart Playhouse, 580 S. Algiers St., Murphys. The college contracts with the playhouse to show foreign films there at 6 p.m. on most Monday nights from Sept. 8 to Dec. 8.

Olson, who has a film production degree from San Jose State University, introduces the films before the class watches, then discusses them.

The featured films, ranging from the '20s to 2000, are from countries such as Japan, Portugal and Mexico. Sometimes he even shows silent films.

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