Phenomenal World Cinema

  1. Here's my first-ever music video, made in honor of the 2nd anniversary of my cat Barkley & I. Enjoy this bit o' free amusement brought to you by the good folks at Phenomenal World Cinema, where "if something happens, it's worth filming".
    Yours truly,

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  2. "Delightful & enormously entertaining...An amazing & meaningful gem!"- Davy Rothbart, This American Life

    In the middle of a suicide mission, Marc Israel becomes intoxicated with a "rebirth of wonder" after imbibing copious amounts of mind-altering Kombucha tea. Thus begins an epic & often hilarious quest investigating a mysterious international motorbike balancing contest. Lean into the world, via Israel's roving camera, & rub intimate eyeballs with a medley of renegade personalities. Get to know Austin's Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata and its eccentric curators, who spend all their time covering the museum in bottle caps & catfood tins. Venture to Iowa City, where the charismatic Optimist Club founder Skutter performs his one-man-show "A Piñata in My Heart" & lectures at the University on a balancing contest in Vietnam. Hop a freight train with Skutter to L.A. and discover a self-described "towel-face artist" who can make your bath towel resemble Whoopi Goldberg within minutes. Lastly, catch a plane to Thailand, hitchhike through Cambodia, finally arriving in Vietnam where a motley assortment of bikers get ready to balance boxes, refrigerators, & entire families on the back of their humble bicycles & mopeds! For more info go to

    "A Balancing Act" - winner of BEST COMEDY DOCUMENTARY at Atlanta International Documentary Festival, Opening Night Film at Montezuma International Film Festival, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, and Atlanta Docufest.

    Also an Official Selection at:
    Film Pop Montreal, Rome International Film Festival, Jacksonville Film Festival, Thin Line Film Fest, ReelHeart International Film Festival, Slow Film Festival, Connecticut Film Festival, Utopia Film Festival, Sweet Onion Film Festival, Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival, Montana Independent Film Festival, S.N.O.B. Film Festival, Northampton Independent Film Festival, Filmbiance, Mid-Valley Video Festival, Bare Bones International Independent Film Festival, Renderyard Film Festival, Over The Top Fest, Seattle True Independent Film Festival....

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  3. This is a trailer for Phenomenal World Cinema's first feature-length documentary. I'm proud to now offer it on DVD. By 1997, I'd been a traveling musician for 5 years. May thru October were spent on the road, hitchhiking, street-performing as a one-man-band, criss-crossing the USA & Europe dozens of times, In winters, I'd stay in New York City, often at the apartment of poet Allen Ginsberg. He was a good friend, a great teacher, & I'd accompany him on guitar for various performances. In April of '97 I witnessed his passing. With a mind now pondering Death (and my other usual obsession, sex!), I hit the road again, only this time I brought a videocamera!

    Get on the road and discuss deathbed manners with urban speculator Geoff Manaugh (mastermind pioneer of bldgblog . blogspot . com) in Chapel Hill, sample drunken ecstatic southerners at the Memphis Blues Festival, stay the night at the World's Most-Cluttered Home in Oklahoma City, visit close Ginsberg friends Steven Taylor (of The Fugs) and poet Anne Waldman in Boulder, share in a titillating liaison in Pocatello, Idaho, alight upon naked hippies singing in an Olympia, Washington shower, savor the vibrant musical flavors of Seattle's Folklife Festival, verse yourself in drug-addled philosophy from Portland street kids, discover the true identity of Bigfoot in Ashland, then head to San Francisco to meet Frank Harrison, a man intent on blowing up the White House. Back east in Vermont, spend a month in group retreat at Karme Choling Buddhist Meditation Center before returning to the Big Wormy Apple. All this, while getting to know a multitude of car & truck-driving cattlemen, immigrants. prostitutes, river rats, paleontologists, ex-cons, & reg'lar blue-collar men who tell often-hilarious stories to filmmaking hitchhikers!
    Music by Marc Israel.
    For more information on Marc Israel's films, please visit:

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  4. Marc Israel had been filming his life for a decade, including hitchhiking & street-performing adventures, love connections, and ongoing emotional struggles. Then, in 2004, a series of near-plagues occurred one after another: a severe case of heartbreak after a failed long-term relationship, an invasion of ants, followed by moths, into his apartment, physical injuries including two massive earaches and a frightful accident concerning his private parts, and, finally, the sudden loss of function in his arms due to chronic tendonitis. Deep in despair, Marc by chance came across a T.V. documentary on the internationally renowned "Miracle Man" healer, John of God, and quickly booked a flight to Brazil. What follows is an exploration of the Self, via encounters with the mysterious and controversial John of God, his community of pilgrims and self-styled spiritualists, the sacred ceremonies of the Fulnio Indians, the jungles rife with strange life, all of which are interwoven with ghostlike flashbacks drawn from years of constant video self-surveillance. Through images both real and surreal, conversations with friends, visits to doctors and therapists, intimate video journals, detailed probes into the natural world, and the editing process of the film itself (also documentary fodder), Marc's pathology and innate wisdom often co-emerge to provide surprisingly humorous and lighthearted moments of relief.

    "Nearer My God To Thee" is a feature-length award-winning film that has played at film festivals around the world. Visit for more information.

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  5. Phenomenal World Cinema presents you with a 25 minute documentary about legendary folksinger Michael Hurley, based on chance encounters with him this past summer. Hurley's music has had a broad influence on other performers, including Lucinda Williams, Smog, Yo La Tengo, Violent Femmes, and singer Cat Power, who's recorded several of his songs for her albums.
    Please enjoy!

    For more information on Marc Israel's films, please visit the internet.

    You can also download the film by clicking down below at the bottom right of the screen. This will afford you much greater clarity of video.

    "Whether weaving a yarn about a mysterious hog or comparing the human heart to a mechanic's toolbox, Mr. Hurley creates elaborate vistas in a musical version of outsider art"
    - Ann Powers / New York Times

    "Hurley is a national treasure"
    - Scott Schinder / Time Out New York

    "Hurley remains one of the elusive masters of American folk"
    - Chris Morris / Billboard

    "Undoubtedly one of this country's greatest folk singers, Hurley has little in common with the majority of today's folk performers. While they seem bent on demonstrating that all people are alike, such a suffocating presumption has no place in this man's work. Michael Hurley is nothing like his potential audience. What better reason to hear what he has to say?"
    - Chuck Cuminale/ Colorblind James

    "...I don't know what else to say about what he writes and sings, other than that it is gosh-darned great. What kind of music is it? Hell, what kind of weeds does God grow? Let's just shut up and listen and go to where Michael Hurley is. After all, we can always turn around and come back. He can't."
    - Nick Tosches/ Author

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Phenomenal World Cinema

Marc Israel

Phenomenal World Cinema is here to show you a good time or a bad time. Either way it will be a good time. Or a bad time. We specialize in documentaries and surgical tools.

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