Is It Really So Strange?
Directed by William E. Jones
The screening will be followed by a conversation between filmmaker William E. Jones and Richard T. Rodríguez, Professor of English and Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside and author of A Kiss across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad.
A carefully crafted portrait featuring interviews with fans and members of The Smiths tribute band The Sweet and Tender Hooligans, Is it Really So Strange? is the first documentary that allows the fans themselves to speak at length about their lives, their loves and their brief encounters with their idol. Prompted by Jones’ 2001 discovery of London is Dead, a club exclusively devoted to Morrissey and Smiths’ music, the film considers how an exuberant community developed around the melancholic 1980’s songs of an artist who, at the time, had not released an album in years – or a Jones’ describes it: “music I had loved long ago.”
Featuring photographs and ephemera culled from concerts and venues, Is It Really So Strange? also maps Morrissey fandom from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to Riverside and the Inland Empire, focusing on spaces that “[offer] a better sense of what it is actually like to live in the region.”
Born in Canton, Ohio, William E. Jones is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, artist and writer whose diverse body of work explores materiality, memory and subcultures. His rigorously researched films and videos include Massillon (1991), Finished (1997), The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998) and Model Workers (2014). His work has been the subject of retrospectives at Tate Modern, London, in 2005, and at Anthology Film Archives, New York, in 2010. Jones’ books include Tearoom (2008), Heliogabalus (2009), Killed: Rejected Images of the Farm Security Administration (2010), Halsted Plays Himself (2011) and True Homosexual Experiences: Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell (2015). His latest novel, I Should Have Known Better, was published in 2021.
Image courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Director: William E. Jones
Running Time: 80 minutes
Release Year: 2004