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Lost and Found

The late-1970s dawn of the VCR was a strange time: All of a sudden, people had a ton of freedom to put whatever they wanted on video and watch it at any time, and the market was flooded with weird experiments to determine just what type of shit people would buy. Witness, for example, Rent a Friend, a VHS tape that’s pretty much exactly what you’d imagine, but even more hilarious and sad. “We’ve seen tons of stupid concepts that came out of VCR — a lot of self-hypnosis tapes and interactive board games, that type of thing — and this is the lamest concept we’ve ever heard of,” says Nick Prueher, co-curator of the Found Footage Festival, which features Rent a Friend and so, so much more.

Making fun of uber-obscure found footage is a pretty common concept these days, with websites like Everything Is Terrible! in the game and the fail video nearly ubiquitous, but Found Footage, started by Prueher and Onion writer Joe Pickett in 1991, was probably the first and remains one of the best. “I think we have the world’s largest collection of found VHS tapes,” Prueher claims — and it’s a credible claim. “There have been other blogs that have done it, but for us, the right way to see this stuff is in a live setting. There’s something magical that happens when you take something that was never meant to be seen in public and you put it in front of 200 people who are there to laugh.”

As for Rent a Friend? Well, part of what makes the show so special is that Found Footage goes the extra mile: “We tracked this guy down, and we had so many questions for him — and he gave us answers. We’ll be revealing those at the show.”

It plays with Prueher and Pickett live tonight at 7:45 and 10 p.m. at the Denver FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are just $10; find them and more information at
Fri., June 17, 8 p.m., 2011


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