Sally Kirkland says she found it cathartic to play the domineering mother of an exotic dancer (Corinne Becker) in Brent Roske’s “African Chelsea” short film. The gritty, moody and memorable piece was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and is eligible for Academy Award consideration.
“When he described how dysfunctional the mother was, I fell in love with the part,” recalls the inimitable actress-director-artist-activist and one-time member of Andy Warhol’s Factory. “I love doing mother-daughter, hate-love, get to tear the scenery apart kind of roles.”
Why is that? “Maybe because I had a mother-daughter relationship like that, as a daughter,” replies Kirkland. Her “African Chelsea” character “wants to be in control of her daughter, and clearly her daughter is rejecting that and running away. But there’s a moment when she holds her daughter and sings to her, that shows such deeper feelings.”
She adds, “I get drawn toward very lost souls kinds of stories.”
Roske (whose ecelectic credits range from his “Live at the Viper Room” album to directing hundreds of commercial campaigns) sought out Kirkland for the part. She believes, “He clearly has a cinematic gift.”
Kirkland is having a month chocabloc with special event screenings of various movies of hers, including something new, “The Wayshower,” and something old — “Brand X.” The latter is Wynn Chamberlain’s 1969 bawdy absurdist parody of a television show in which she starred with Sam Shepard and Abbie Hoffman, which has been getting re-appreciation screenings after having mysteriously disappeared for more than 40 years. Shown at UCLA’s Hammer Museum last week, “Brand X” has screenings ahead at Harvard and “it’s going to Berlin in February,” Kirkland reveals. She may head to Germany for that.