“Drugs In the Tenderloin” Documentary Screening | SF
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Tenderloin Museum | 398 Eddy St., San Francisco, CA
Submitted by the Event Organizer
Join for a rare opportunity to see Robert Zagone’s guerilla-style documentary that captures the Tenderloin transforming into a center for young queers and drug users. Premiered on KQED in 1966, this visceral flick wasn’t shown again in public until 2015 when it was rediscovered by the Tenderloin Museum. Zagone’s footage is a revealing time-capsule of ’60s SF, and his camerawork gives a whole new meaning to “eyes on the street.” The intimacy and intensity with which Drugs in the Tenderloin paints its subjects transports viewers to a time and place on the edge. The film is one of the few records of the TL’s marginalized communities during one of the pivotal moments in the neighborhood’s history.
One of Drugs in the Tenderloin most characteristic features is its evocative lighting, that “grainy night photography” lit by the “smoky backdrop of seedy neon.” Over the Tenderloin Museum’s summer full of neon-related programing, Drugs in the Tenderloin emerged as a crucial document for preservationists, searching for evidence of original business signs and architectural details. In addition to its transfixing human portrayals, the film depicts a zone of the built environment that, in spite of its dark and underground reputation, is illuminated by warm, colorful neon. What’s more, the film provides an important record: the only known glimpses of several historic signs in color.