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Found Footage Festival opens 10th year in NC

by Mark Burger

Looking for “Found Footage”?

Look no more — it’s been found.

The Found Footage Festival will celebrate its momentous 10 th anniversary with an all-new presentation scheduled to premiere Wednesday at the Rialto in Raleigh, followed Thursday at the Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema in Greensboro.

Hosts Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, veterans of The Onion and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” have assembled an all-new selection of found video clips and live comedy that they will be sharing with audiences around the world.

“We are continually flabbergasted that people find this stuff as funny as we do,” says Prueher. “When we started finding and sharing ridiculous VHS tapes with friends in high school, we thought it just a dumb inside joke. But when we finally took our collection out of a living room and screened it in a theater for strangers, people really latched onto it.

“I think it was just the right moment in time when people were ready to look back at the VHS era and laugh,” he added.

Each festival is different from the last, as each one incorporates brand-new footage into the presentation. The 2014 festival is no exception. Among the new clips featured in this year’s event are segments from a 1997 instructional video titled How to Have Cybersex on the Internet; Special Delivery, a 1994 video for dog breeders that explains the process of “whelping”; newly-found footage of home-shopping hosts John and Johnny, described as “the world’s most obnoxious home-shopping hosts,” circa 1987, along with a John and Johnny reunion engineered by the Found Footage curators a quarter of a century later; and “101 Jesuses,” images taken from dozens of religious videos presented in under three minutes.

“It can be pretty mind-numbing sorting through all the videotapes we’ve found at thrift stores each year,” Prueher admits, “but when we find one that’s unintentionally funny in just the right way, we’re excited. We just can’t wait to show it to people, and that’s what keeps it fun for us. We get to do a show-andtell every night for a new group of people. Hard to complain about a job like that, although believe me, we still do!”

The festival was founded in New York in 2004 and became an almost instantaneous hit with audiences, selling out hundreds of shows each year throughout the United States and Canada, including the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. The festival has also been featured in segments aired on National Public Radio “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

The festival has also been prominently cited as a “critic’s pick” in dozens of publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Chicago Tribune. The festival is also showcased twice weekly in a popular web series on The Onion’s AV Club and was the subject of the light-hearted non-fiction book, VHS: Absurd, Odd and Ridiculous Relics from the Videotape Era.

This event showcases forgotten videos found at garage sales, thrift stores, warehouses and dumpsters throughout North America. Pickett and Prueher lead audiences on a guided tour of their latest, greatest, most off-the-wall VHS discoveries, providing live commentary during the screenings and sharing updates about some of the people who appear in the videos. Whether it’s an obsolete training video, public-access shows, local commercials or even someone’s home videos, Found Footage finds, shows, and celebrates these often-endearing oddities.

Each year, the curators of the Found Footage Festival embark on their long, arduous journey, sharing these oftenridiculous rarities with audiences — while also ever vigilant in their pursuit of new video treasures yet to be discovered.

“Last year, we played all 50 states and what we learned is that only about 40 of them are any good — the other 10 we could take or leave,” jokes Prueher, “but we’ll stay play about 140 shows this year, kicking off in North Carolina and hitting the UK, Europe and Scandinavia before things wrap up in 2015.”

At which point, of course, it’ll be time to start the process all over again! !

WANNA go?

Show times are 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Rialto (1620 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh) and 8 p.m. Thursday at the Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema (2134 Lawndale Ave., Greensboro). Tickets for each show are $12. For more information, visit foundfootagefest.com.

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