Month: January 2014

The History of ESFS

snobsThe E Street Film Society (ESFS) was founded in January 2002 by two upstart film geeks, Daniel Barnes and Mike Dub, who wanted to create a forum in which to view and discuss cinema.  Every few weeks, ESFS would meet in a small basement apartment on E Street in Sacramento and screen their own film fests.  For each festival, they curated and screened three films that were connected to each other by director, star, genre, year, or a common theme.

Tensions in the E Street Film Society ran high from the beginning, and during an ill-advised screening of Silent Running, dissent erupted among ESFS members over the artistic direction of the group.  In a lavish publicity stunt, Mike Dub vowed to leave the group and take every member with him, eventually fleeing back to Chicago alone under a cloud of shame.

A few years later, Daniel Barnes reclaimed the ESFS brand and re-booted the film society as a movie blog.  Successful for several years, the online version of ESFS eventually struggled under the weight of legal issues brought about by Dub, who demanded residuals from the blog (despite the fact that it had never made any money).  Some still believe that the real reason for the lawsuits was not Dub’s ignominious departure from the society, but rather Barnes’ 2006 declaration that “Dwyane Wade is the new Michael Jordan.”  While Dub failed to secure any financial compensation from the blog, he did succeed in shutting it down.

After five years of silent antipathy between the two founding members of ESFS, they were reunited when, unbeknownst to each other, they both agreed to appear on the 2013 Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon.  During their tearful on-air reunion, Barnes and Dub decided that it was time to bring back ESFS yet again.  This time, they have pledged to set aside their personal feelings and lead ESFS with professionalism, integrity and respect.  They will not allow themselves to succumb to shallow, bickering punditry.  Their newly minted collaboration is a rising star that will forever shine brightly in the evening sky.

As long as they don’t completely screw it up.

My Declaration of Principles

hqdefault1)      The canon is a dry erase board, not a stone tablet.

2)      Nostalgia is the enemy of taste.

3)      Entrenchment is the enemy of reason.

4)      Criticism without passion is a waste of time.

5)      Cinema should be approached with a spirit of adventure.

6)      A critic devoid of humility is a tyrant.

7)      Blind spots demand to be illuminated.

8)      Constructive dialogue and disagreements should be respected above all else.

9)      All eras, genres, cultures, and budgets should be approached with open minds and hearts.

10)      My goal is to be the critic I always wanted to read.

Citizen Kane - Declaration of Principles kane31

About Daniel Barnes

the-man-who-came-to-dinner-monty-woolley-1942Daniel Barnes is a film critic for the Sacramento News and Review and a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.  His work has appeared in the Colorado Springs IndependentSan Antonio Current, and Monterey County Weekly, among other print and online publications.  He began blogging about films in 2005 on his websites The Barnesyard, Movie City USA, and the original online iteration of E Street Film Society.  Married since 2008, Daniel and his wife Darcey also run a beer blog called His and Hers Beer Notes that has been profiled in numerous Sacramento publications, and their work is featured regularly on the EatDrinkFilm website.  Daniel’s favorite films are generally over-stylized and pretentious while promoting a warped morality, and his favorite pastimes include shushing movie theater talkers and that’s it.

About Mike Dub

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Mike Dub was born and mostly raised in Chicago. He lived in Sacramento during his late teens and early twenties, during which time he became cofounder of the E Street Film Society before leaving again for Chicago. After graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Film, he went on to earn a Masters Degree in Media Arts from the University of Arizona. He says his favorite films include Citizen Kane, Some Like It Hot, and The Maltese Falcon, but the movie he has seen more times than any other is The Lost Boys. Also, his real name is Mike Wegrzyn.