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Swan Day 2009

This Saturday marks the second international Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) day, a commemoration and series of celebrations to raise visibility for women artists around the world. Whether you're in Austin, Jerusalem, or Nairobi, there are a series of events near you. From jazz fests to Girls Write Now Days, use the SWAN Day online map to find out what’s happening locally. The project, which was started by San Francisco's collaborative network Fund for Women Artists, also has a local partnership with the upcoming SF Women's Film Festival to highlight filmmakers behind and in front of the camera.

Playing For Change

Smiles are sure to abound for North American audiences of Playing for Change as the musical extravaganza goes on tour this week. The multimedia, artist-driven effort is working to promote peace and music education through collaboration and live performances of World music. San Franciscans can take in the tunes, including a rather irresistible rendition of “Stand By Me” at Slim‘s today. Other upcoming shows include Seattle’s Showbox and New York’s High Line Ballroom. Should you miss the opportunity to see Grandpa Elliott, Mohammed Alidu, Jason Tamba of Afro Fiesta, and their counterparts performing together live for the first time, the film looks to be a promising second best (after showing at Tribeca, it won best song at the Roxbury Film Festival — no surprise there).

Che: A Graphic Biography

While Steven Soderbergh's film Che has gotten mixed reviews on the festival circuit, there's one piece of media, Che: A Graphic Biography, that provides an indisputably great snapshot of the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary's life and death. Created by longtime cartoonist Spain Rodriguez — one of the original members of Zap Comics with Robert Crumb — the illustrated life of Ernesto "Che" Guevara is lovingly told in the tradition of underground political comics. You'll find details on parts of his life you've heard about (Latin American motorcycle adventures, leadership in Fidel Castro's revolutionary movement) and many you haven't (severe bouts of asthma, extensive African travels).

Morgans Hotel Group x Recess Sessions

If you’re seeking solace from news about bailouts and our tanking economy, look no further than the Recess Sessions. The project by the Morgans Hotel Group “seeks to capture the creative spirit and collaboration that drives independent musicians and filmmakers.” It shows artists performing on-site at Morgans properties in New York, London and L.A. Director Vincent Moon’s video of Brazilian singer/guitarist Curumin (and Au Revoir Simone) is calming and light, whereas Mark Wilkinson’s take on rockers Semi Precious Weapons at the Hudson is more raucous. Footage of Miho Hatori and Miss Derringer is said to be coming soon — as are user submissions, of course.

Sean Tubridy

It would be a sin of omission to call Sean Tubridy a photographer when he's in fact a publisher/activist/graphic designer/salesman. And by salesman, we mean the "stuff" he sells, that includes screenprinted shirts with illustrations of Leica M3s and transistor radios, not to mention the self-published book Toys on Roids featuring shots of classic and modern toys taken with a Polaroid SX-70. He was also co-founder of the Save Polaroid movement last year. But the body of work that we're most excited about is an extensive Flickr collection under the moniker Tubes. Keyboard keys, He-Man figurines, and Matchbox cars have never looked so beautiful.

Tubridy, who first got his hands on a Polaroid camera eight years ago, said he's enamored with "the immediacy, the tactile nature, the one of a kind aspect of them "¦ I like the idea of using a camera and film that was made for more casual purposes and using it for studio shots of these little toy sets I create. I could shoot with a digital camera and edit in Photoshop, but I love the challenge of getting the correct in camera and leaving the computer out of it."

San Francisco Women's Film Festival

Crowdsourcing is coming to this year's San Francisco Women's Film Festival, the Bay Area’s annual celebration of recent contributions to documentary, LGBT, and dramatic film. Indie-Fest recently opened an online screening competition sponsored by the film forum and marketplace IndieFlix. While the festival begins on April 1, voting on five shorts is open until the end of the month, with the winner getting a screening at SFWFF. Characters in the shorts include a soldier going AWOL in the Iraqi desert, a child dressed as the Hindu god Ganesh, and exotic parrots (why not?). Scarlett Shepard, founder of the festival and the Bay Area-based Women's Film Institute, said that "between the festival, the Internet and audience engagement, this is a great platform for people around the globe to see great indie films made by women.”

Alec Soth x The Last Days of W

If you've seen images at the Whitney, SF Museum of Modern Art, or Minneapolis' Walker Art Center (or the Magnum Photos archives for that matter), the shots of photographer Alec Soth may have caught your eye. The Minnesota-based artist's photos are colorful yet haunting, and his most recent frameset, shot in the days before President Obama's inauguration are no exception. "The Last Days of W" is a visual critique of the impact that the outgoing head of state had on Americans "” from mothers of Marines to religious imagery in offices. The show opened with an exhibition in Zurich and is now being featured in a self-published softcover book that serves as a celebration/requiem for President Bush, who once uttered that "one of the great things about books is, sometimes there are some fantastic pictures."Â  What else would you expect from locations like California's Camp Purgatory and Detroit before the promise of the automaker bailout?

Handmade Nation

Tonight the San Francisco Film Society will play host to a screening of Handmade Nation, a documentary about the work and connections between independent artists across the country. Made by first-time filmmaker and craft blogger Faythe Levine, the film focuses on the role that the Web has played on the marketability of handmade objects (Etsy, anyone?). That, and the "punky do-it-yourself ethos [that has been] informed by modern aesthetics, politics, feminism and art."

A discussion will follow the event at Mezzanine, and will include design*sponge editor and co-owner of The Curiosity Shoppe, Derek Fagerstrom and Craft editor Natalie Zee Drieu. At $12 a ticket the event will still be less than seeing a flick at Sundance.

International Doc Challenge

Today will close the International Documentary Challenge 2009, a filmmaking competition that solicits the work of brilliant (and crazy) storytellers and editors racing against the clock to put together thematic work. After choosing from one of two assigned documentary genres like sports or music, the teams have had five days to put together their best entries for the chance to premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. Inspired by the understanding that "filmmaking tools are now so affordable that anyone willing to invest the time and energy to tell a story can do so," Challenge founder Doug Whyte of KDHX Community Media has been pleased to draw professional and amateur filmmakers alike, 80 percent of whom turn in a completed film by the hard deadline. The 12 films selected this year will join nominees from previous competitions, including docs about shopping carts, small town prostitution, and mixed music trading. Submissions are required to be mailed by 5 p.m., which is the same time that these video warriors can finally get some sleep.

Shotwell

Yelpers are a notoriously fickle bunch, and pretty verbose when it comes to the recently opened San Francisco men and women's apparel boutique SHOTWELL. Carrying "vintage Lacoste sweaters, plaid shirts … and reconstructed dresses", as well as lines from Cheap Monday and Alex & Chloe, one reviewer described it as having a "SF-meets-L.A.-meets-NY-hipster-meets-high-fashion yuppy threads."

Founders Michael Weaver and Holly Kricher were previously selling vintage clothing out of their house in the Mission District before grabbing this space on Geary St. If you need an excuse to shop, Bosnian artist Jasko Begovic's colorful, haunting artwork will be on display at an in-store party tonight.

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