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Thursday, January 19, 2006 | Upcoming film, theater and music events:

FILM

Media matters. In an age of socially-conscious documentaries (think “Super Size Me” and “The Corporation”), it’s easy to feel simultaneously inspired to action and yet helpless upon leaving the theater. Well, nonprofit organization Media Rights is seeking to change that, with its Fifth Annual Media That Matters Film Festival. The traveling, year-long festival tours the nation, from big cities to small towns, not only screening films but also hosting workshops on how to produce and distribute digital films with a conscience.

The festival stops in San Diego tonight for a one-day only screening of 16 digital shorts (each no longer than 8 minutes). The films were selected from a pool of 450 entries – half of which were created by filmmakers under 25 – and address everything from sustainable agriculture to civic engagement to social justice. Enrico Cullen, one of the film festival’s founders, said hosting these community screenings is one way to facilitate people in “making the move from emotion to action.” He explained, “Sometimes you walk away from a screening that touches you but not sure what to do. Our role is to generate that interest, provide tools and opportunities to bring about social change.”

In order for film viewers to do something about what they just witnessed, Cullen’s organization has put together a festival Web site that includes “Take Action” resource links for individuals who want to become more involved with an issue seen on screen. For example, viewers who were inspired by one of the featured shorts, such as “Young Agrarians,” can visit the site to learn more find sustainable farms and farmers’ markets in their area.

“Media That Matters Film Festival” screens 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, 5998 Alcala Park, University of San Diego campus. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Johanna Divine (producer of “Young Agrarians”) and a reception. The event is free, though reservations through the festival’s Web site are encouraged. For more information and to see film clips, visit www.mediathatmattersfest.org/mtm05.

More films:

– “The Valley of the Dog Songs” follows the lives of six struggling artists, who although live in different parts of the world share a common desire to create. The film was shot in Amsterdam, Jakarta, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Lima and features a soundtrack by San Diego-based musician Phil Beaumont. The screening is followed by a reception and performance by Beaumont and local band Maquiladora, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s La Jolla location, 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19.

– Set in 1930s Rome during the rise of Italian fascism, Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist,” is brimming with politics, sex and gorgeous cinematography. In Italian with English subtitles. Opens Friday, Jan. 20 at the Landmark Hillcrest Cinema (CC)

THEATER

Sitting on a park bench. Two men who have never met before make each other’s acquaintance at the graveside of Flo Halpern. As the men tell their stories, they learn about the love they both had for the same woman regardless of the fact that she was married to one of them for 30 years. Written by Lionel Goldstein, “Halpern & Johnson” makes its West Coast premiere this weekend at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, starring Jonathan McMurtry and Robert Grossman. Opens at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 and runs 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and 7 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 19. North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Suite D, Solana Beach. Info: (858) 481-2155 or www.northcoastrep.org.

More performances:

– Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” is often lauded as one of the classics of modern musical theater. The story centers on bachelor Robert as he turns 35 and his group of married friends. Begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25 and continues at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 26-28, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27-28 at the San Diego School of Creative Performing Arts, 2425 Dusk Drive. Info: (619) 470-0555 or www.scpa.sandi.net.

– One of Sophocles’ earliest plays, “Ajax” tells the story of the warrior-hero and his rage-filled vow to avenge the fact that he was not awarded the armor of Achilles. Translated by Dr. Marianne McDonald. Plays at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 5 at 6th @ Penn Theatre, 3704 Sixth Ave. Info: (619) 688-9210 or www.6thatpenn.com. (MB)

MUSIC

More tickets released. Imogen Heap has been generating a lot of buzz lately. The singer-songwriter is also known as one half of the duo Frou Frou, whose dreamy song “Let Go” was featured on the “Garden State” soundtrack. Her sophomore album, “Speak for Yourself” is layered with swirling, ethereal sounds and vocals and is being touted as one of 2005’s best.

With comparisons to Bjork, Dido and even Kate Bush, Heap’s range goes beyond merely voice. She’s a classically trained pianist, a producer and a programmer. Initially sold-out, more tickets have been made available for this show. With Zoe Keating, 7:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 23 at House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Ave., downtown. Info: (619) 299-2583 or www.hob.com.

More music:

– Get twice the fun with fast-paced punk rock band Pennywise. First, an all-ages show with No Use For A Name, Suicide Machines and Love Equals Death, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 at SOMA, 3350 Sports Arena Blvd., Suite I. $17. Info: (619) 226-SOMA or www.somasandiego.com. The second show is 21 and up, 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at 4th & B, 345 B St., downtown. $16. Info: (619) 231-4343 or www.4thandb.com.

– Fulfill your ballad and twang needs with Trisha Yearwood. The Grammy-winning, contemporary-country singer-songwriter plays 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22 at Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula. Info: (951) 693-1819 or www.Pechanga.com.

– Indie-folkster Tom Brousseau, rootsy Brandi Carlile and former Catherine Wheel singer Rob Dickinson (his song “My Name is Love” has been featured on local radio lately and has a way of sticking in your head) play a can’t miss, three-fer show, 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24 at The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd. Info: (619) 232-4355 or www.thecasbah.com. (MB)

– VOICE STAFF

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