I just got back from watching a few "experimental" shorts. I'm putting the word experimental in quotes not because I have a thing against it, because I in fact love and participate in experimental work, but because I think the film festival just puts miscellaneous films under the "experimental" title. The announcer even said that the reason they were considered "experimental" was because they didn't fit the categories of documentary or narrative film. Sorry, Mr. Announcer! I don't think "experimental" means "miscellaneous." Experimental is a whole other can of worms. Nevertheless, let's get on with the reviews of some of the shorts. For Burning Emina by Bennet Pimpinella (Italy, 2010, 16 minutes), we see a man (though not his face) without a shirt, and he places thick, black tape vertically on his torso and places another piece horizontally over his nipples, forming a cross. He then takes a marker, and begins to trace the cross. As he draws, you can see animated white lines appearing on the path traced by the marker. The texture of those white lines is much like ripped paper. The whole scene seems filmed in a way to make it feel old and as if made through a home video camera from the early 80s. So, this man has traced the cross onto himself. Many of the following scenes are him tracing such a cross on the tops of many different women. In the end, we see a woman tracing the cross onto a man. This theme persisted for all 16 minutes. I'm not sure if I liked the fact that you can tell that the subjects were aware of their being filmed, but at the same time, it added to it in the sense that you then knew that they were pretty much innocent bystanders who probably don't know the artist at all. You can even see their reactions when the tape was pulled off their breasts. After the film, and when the lights went up in the room, an audience member said, "Buuf, c'est fini!" really loudly. I guess he didn't care much to see so many topless people(women). I thought this film was interesting in the way that you started to get a little anxious with the repetitious imagery, and then something new would happen or something would change. In terms of content, I feel that the repeated use of the cross on the body, particularly the female body, as drawn by (usually) the same man, might indicate some commentary on gender roles in religion. At the same time, when you could tell that these were just random people on the streets, it then connected me with religion and the masses. It's an interesting take, too, on consent: to be drawn on, filmed, (usually publicly) nude, etc, by people you do not know.
For Transformance by Nina Kurtela (Croatia/Germany, 2010, 10 minutes), there is a woman, sometimes sitting (on a couch), sometimes standing, and she stays still while a time lapse behind her occurs. The same is transforming around her from a warehouse for trams and buses to a dance studio. This time lapse occurs over 100 days. She changes, though, with the time, ever so slightly. Her movements are jagged, but she generally wears the same thing, though a scarf or her hairstyle may change. Some humorous things happen: people react to her every now and then, or she may be sitting on the couch while somebody is welding a beam in front of her. Then, when the area below her must change, and get lower, she then appears standing on top of a ladder (to keep her in the same place). Then, eventually, she's on a stack of pallets. I thought it was very funny, and very neat to watch the space change over time, and to see her so meticulously in the same place each day for each lapse of time, and the various ways they problem-solved to keep her in roughly the same place. I really enjoyed the piece.
For Paysage vectoriel no. 1 by Avi Rosen (Israel, 2010, 5 minutes), I feel like the audience just didn't know what to make of this. I found it very intriguing though! It was a vector landscape. At first you saw short red lines in various patterns seemingly reacting to the sounds. Then, sometimes you would see blurry images of somebody getting ready for the morning (it seemed). Sometimes, you would just see a grid of colored dots in squares, or a just a plain grid, or the grid with those red lines again, and everything seems to be reacting with the sound, and sometimes those patterns were overtop the blurred imagery. You could sometimes catch moments where those lines and dots formed the bowl and spoon, and you had a small "aha!" moment. The sounds helped you figure out what the grids, lines and dots might be forming. And then, I thought, well what if this landscape was in fact done the same way but with nature? —and then I thought that that couldn't work, because the vectorial landscape needed to be in the manmade landscape, at least for this piece, and then informs the conversation about what landscape is and could be.
Still Lives by Vincent Ducarne (France, 2010, 7 minutes) was very cool. Though it uses many film conventions I've seen before, I liked the pseudo-narrative it implied. You saw many different scenes, different emotions, different people, all "frozen" in time. They weren't truly frozen, and the part I liked was the fact that you could see this man holding so incredibly still, but the slight twitches in his hand and the slight breeze under the newspaper, made it very poetic. Also, on top of that, one of my favorite features of this piece was the use of sound, because the sound was at "normal" speed while everyone was frozen. You saw the person frozen, seemingly pouring coffee into a cup, but you heard the coffee being poured, you did not truly see it. You could capture the could-be conversation between the two people who have made eye-contact, even though they are not saying or doing anything. It was very interesting, though most of its features are conventions of film.
Back by Vicent Gisbert (Spain, 2011, 6 minutes) features silhouettes of a hooded figure, legs slightly spread, standing in a rocky field. You see wind turbines (sometimes with 6 or more blades) in the background, foreground, etc, varying transparencies. The hooded figures eventually seem to move or dance, and react slightly to sound. I'm not quite sure how to describe this one. It was very simple, and I think that's making it more difficult to figure out, or maybe it's not in fact that complex. Visually, it was very cool, because it had high contrast and was monochromatic. Not quite sure what to say other than, "it looked cool."
I'm going back tonight to see more films. I'll let you know in Part 2 what I think of some of those!