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Plaster Caster And Ghost Dance At National Arts Festival

DVD cover featuring a photo of a young Cynthia Plaster Caster

The National Arts Festival is a celebration of the multidisciplinary arts held in Grahamstown, South Africa. This year, it is running from June 30 to July 10 and features dance performances, stage plays and musicals, stand-up comedy, art exhibitions, music concerts, and a film festival.

In keeping with the arts theme, the NAF is screening two excellent documentaries about two very unconventional American artists as part of the film festival. They are: Plaster Caster, which profiles legendary Chicago- based super-groupie Cynthia Plaster, and Ghost Dance, which tracks a visit to Europe by controversial artist Steven Johnson Leyba.

Plaster Caster screens on Tuesday, July 5 at 3:00 p.m. while Ghost Dance screens on Thursday July 7 at 10:00 p.m.

A huge hit on the international film festival circuit in 2001-2002, Plaster Caster was subsequently released on DVD all over the world. (Amazon | Netflix). Filmmaker Jessica Everleth (née Villines) tracks the artistic career of Cynthia Plaster Caster, the rock groupie who has famously made plaster sculptures of the private parts of some of the biggest names in music, most notably, Jimi Hendrix.

Still practicing her craft, in the documentary Cynthia wrangles two indie musicians, the reticent Bill Dolan and the raucous Danny Doll Rod, into posing for two new sculptures all the while preparing for the first big gallery showing of her career in NYC. The film is an engaging and fascinating portrait of an artist who finally gets the art world respect she’s always deserved. Read the Underground Film Journal’s review of the film here.

Watch the trailer for Plaster Caster:

Steven Johnson Leyba looking at paintings in a museum

Ghost Dance is co-directed by filmmaking collaborators Ca Ca Ca and Dionysos Andronis. The documentary follows painter and performance artist Steven Johnson Leyba as he expounds on his theories about art, politics and religion — which all intertwine in his work — on a tour of Europe.

Leyba is a controversial and enigmatic figure who allows himself to be cut and defiled during his performance art pieces, paints extremely graphic imagery and is a reverend in the Satanic Church. In Ghost Dance, we see a more pensive Leyba who performs a tame spoken word piece, admires classic European art and discusses religion and politics. The film is an idiosyncratic portrait of a unique figure. Read the Underground Film Journal’s review of the film here.

(Program note: Ghost Dance is screening on a special double bill with the classic silent film Metropolis.)


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