In the midst of a hyperpatriotic era in which the dual crimes of independent thinking and dissent are often labeled as un-American, the award for "best irony and social commentary in a name" goes to the good folks who hung the moniker on Phoenix's own Thought Crime Gallery. Not afraid to provoke in the name of art, Thought Crime has become a haven for art, live music and spoken-word performances with (gasp!) an actual point of view.
Flush with the knowledge that there is an audience clamoring for such non-mainstream fare, Thought Crime is branching out into other media in an effort to provide independent artists with a forum for their work. One such medium -- film -- is helping to turn Saturday nights into John Ashcroft's worst nightmare via an ongoing independent movie night called FOCUS.
The brain child of local artist Will Poulson and his girlfriend, political activist Kate James, FOCUS features different films with political and artistic subject matter every week. Already the two have featured Urban Warrior, a film about the militarization of the police in America, as well as a piece about the ritual performance band Crash Worship.
One of FOCUS' most appealing aspects is its policy of inclusion. Admission is granted on a sliding scale that caps off at $5, meaning that even if all you have in your pocket is lint, you'll still make it through the doors. It's a policy Poulson believes is in keeping with FOCUS' main goals.
"We were definitely interested in creating a venue in which to distribute political content," he says. "More importantly, we wanted to provide an incentive for artists to make these types of films. We thought we could do that by assuring that they have a place for their work to be shown."