Photo by Heather Smith

Artists’ Television Access turns 30 this month and is throwing a marathon of a party to celebrate.

The festivities kick off at 1 p.m. today with the start of a 30-hour film screening session, which will be staffed through the night by loyal volunteers. The screening will become a party with live music, drinks and VJ sets at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

There will be a brief intermission at 4 a.m., free coffee refills, and a pancake breakfast at 6 a.m. to sweeten the deal for exhausted film-watchers.

Since 1984, ATA has been giving underground and alternative filmmakers access to what they need to work. Before camera equipment was widely available, “access” referred to gear and editing options. Now, it usually means giving artists who do weird stuff a chance to show what they’ve created. ATA has “gone through numerous transitions of volunteer crews, new organization structures, and new programming ideas,” said Kelly Pendergrast, the current president of ATA’s Board of Directors.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity where … we open our doors to everyone walking by and build a new audience that’s going to support us into the future,” Pendergrast said.

The future, for now, looks bright for ATA. Despite a lease renegotiation that looms at the end of next year, the space is about to undergo renovation. New projectors, a refinished floor and space to archive film data are in the works after a crowdsourced and grant-matched fundraiser surpassed its original goal within a week. ATA now has four days left to reach its stretch goal of $15,000 and is currently hovering around $11,000.

Donors are invited to the party (and drinks!) free of charge, while for others the suggested donation is $10. Other screenings throughout the month cost $7-$10 on a sliding scale. As always, however, Pendergrast said, the goal is to grant the community access to underground film, so nobody is turned away from the programs for lack of funds.

“We’re really hoping for a final surge of community support over the weekend,” she said.

The marathon screening will include work by several members of the ATA old guard, including co-founder Marshal Weber, now based in Brooklyn. His contribution will be a project begun in the early days of ATA, a “psychedelic documentary” and “psycho-drama” titled, “Flatlands.”

Later in the month, visitors might check out Mission Eye & Ear, a collaborative performance series that combines film and live music, or rarely-screened works by Craig Baldwin, including “shlockumentary” renditions of American history, or a two-part talk series with alternative filmmakers and “stormsquatters” George and Mike Kuchar. The complete schedule of screenings can be found here.

Celebratory screenings continue through September 26.

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  1. Man, we need places like ATA in the Mission. They’ve never given up on their quest to give deranged artistic expression a platform. I’d rather see a week of screenings and events at ATA than go to corporate Burning Man. I remember seeing totally whacked performances by Caroliner Rainbow and the Thessalonians in their 80s pre-fire digs. Dem was de days!

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