It was Werner Herzog who sparked festival organizer (and director of this doc) Stuart Swezey’s vision. If Fitzcarraldo could bring an opera to a jungle, what’s stopping Swezey from staging an industrial music concert in the middle of the Mojave? The Desolation Center happenings began in an abandoned warehouse in downtown L.A.’s skid row: the dream was to put on shows “as a form of artistic expression.” That meant an NFP that booked (mostly punk rock) groups on the basis of talent, not drawing power, that didn’t solicit press coverage, and put every cent of profit back into the organization. Out of this punk variation on Woodstock came Lollapalooza, Burning Man, Coachella, etc. But if you think that sort of music is raw and gritty, just wait until you see the quality of the footage that survives. Instead of digitizing the vintage tapes, Swezey opted to go full old school by filming the cassettes off cathode ray tubes. The resulting film is affectionate, informative, and full of images as fuzzy as the eyeballs that captured them. (2018) — Scott Marks
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