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Arts and Entertainment

Cinefamily Pays Tribute To Outsider Filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. At Their Annual Fundraiser

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An eclectic outsider, Robert Downey, Sr. has always remained on the sidelines in the canon of American cinema history. It's especially telling when such an influential filmmaker is nowhere nearly as famous as his movie star son, one of the biggest in the world. And while his best work certainly deserves to stand alongside the usual heavyweights on every "Best of..." list, Downey is at least aware of and readily accepts his obscurity. "Oh I'm way out on the fringes," he admits to LAist, but adds, "I don't even know what a maverick is in today's world."

So when Cinefamily, an outsider repertory theater in an Industry Town, decided to hold their first annual Friends of Cinefamily fundraiser, it was fitting that the event would be a tribute to Downey. "It's embarassing. But... I like it," Downey says of the tribute. Truth And Soul, Inc.: The Films of Robert Downey Sr. (a prince) provides audiences a chance to not only get an overview of his eclectic body of work, but also to hear thoughts from the man himself. Truth And Soul starts tonight, with a Downey family affair. Downey will be in conversation with his son, and screening will be his films Chafed Elbows (1966) and Two Tons Of Turquoise To Taos Tonight (1975), both of which star Downey's first wife Elsie in every female role in both films. Elsie, Robert Downey Jr.'s mother, died earlier this year.

On Saturday night, Downey sits down and talks with director Paul Thomas Anderson, an admirer and also friend. "I've made it no secret I just... idolize him," Anderson told the LA Times. Screening will be a new print of Downey's "acid western" Greaser's Palace (1972) and the extremely rare Pound (1970).

Sunday afternoon the tribute moves to a much larger venue, where Louis C.K. hosts a chat with Downey along with Alan Arkin at the downtown Ace Hotel, and screening will be Putney Swope (1969), universally regarded as Downey's greatest achievement. Putney Swope, hailed by C.K. as "the first film that inspired" him, is a hilarious satire of race and media, depicting the hijinx that ensue when a black radical takes over a Madison Avenue ad agency. Downey has never met C.K. before, but looks forwards to the event. "I love his show [Louie], so that's fine by me."

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The final day of the event moves back to the Silent Movie Theatre on Monday for a free event, in conversation with Alan Arkin and screening rare works and random odds and ends from his career, including possible works he has in the pipeline. "I’ve made some films, and I wanna make some more. I’ve been very lucky to get a lot of them done," Downey says. "It's not easy to get anything out that's not... the obvious."

Further screenings are scheduled in the coming weeks, including a Chafed Elbows and No More Excuses (1968) double-feature on the 13th, an extremely rare screening of his made-for-television Sticks And Bones (1973) for Cinefamily members only, and a week-long run of Greaser's Palace at the end of the month.

Truth And Soul, Inc.: The Films of Robert Downey Sr. (a prince) starts tonight at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, and runs all the way through to the end of the month. See the Cinefamily website for ticket information.