Mini film festival of video clip oddities

Nick Prueher
Nick Prueher
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Everyone should have a hobby.

For New Yorkers Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher their noseying around bargain bins, flea markets and charity shops resulted in a library bursting with obscure, random and just plain peculiar VHS tapes.

Odd records and their often even odder covers now command big bucks on internet auction sites. Clearly Pickett and Prueher believe they have hit a similar mother lode when it comes to that most maligned of formats, the video tape.

Over more than 20 years they have amassed sufficient “weirdiana” to be able to curate an entire festival.

Now, for the second time, it arrives in Yorkshire with a programme of oddities destined to provoke a chuckle.

The video explosion of the early 80s provided a platform for anyone and everyone who wanted to hawk their wares. It was a period of unprecedented production; thousands of video labels sprung up across the globe peddling everything from exercise tips to corporate messages. This cross-section of opportunity, the Found Footage Festival exploits.

“We’re really excited about showing off our collection of greatest VHS finds from the last 20 years,” says co-curator Prueher. “We started this back in high school and would show clips for entertainment at parties and now we’re on tour around the UK, Ireland, Paris and The Netherlands!”

The all-new 90-minute show has been created especially for British audiences. It plays at Leeds’s Hyde Park Picture House tonight as part of a wider UK tour that also takes in Liverpool and Manchester.

Pickett and Prueher travel with the show, introducing clips, providing running commentary and interspersing footage with comedy skits. Judging from the kitsch covers that grace their website it will not be a dull evening. The gallery includes several films devoted to ten-pin bowling, fishing and dancing. Look out for Dancin’ Grannies, an exercise video entitled Do the Macarena Totally Nude! (“Six beautiful women show the moves to its original soundtrack”) and a tape on how to handle profanity, called simply Swearing, formerly owned by the Venice Youth Ministry. Colour Me a Rainbow (“Hey kids, it’s Jesus! He’s our light”) is an evangelical tool. FART The Movie (“The movie they said could never be made”) trumps its dubious message in big, garish letters. And Bar-room Brawling (“The art of staying alive in beer joints, biker bars and other fun places”) appears to combine self-defence with a certain degree of required masochism.

But it’s not just ordinary people doing strange things. Carnival in Rio stars a goggle-eyed Arnold Schwarzenegger and is a forgotten 30-year-old promotional travelogue that features the libidinous Austrian mangling his dialogue as he leers at an array of Brazilian beauties.

“Nick and Joe first came to us last year,” says cinema manager Wendy Cook. “The audience loved them, so with new footage to show I’m sure they’ll be loved again!”

Found Footage Festival, Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds, tonight from 9pm. Tickets £10.