5 Juror Awards (in no particular order)
A black and white negative is placed on undeveloped black and
white print stock and left in the sun for days to weeks and then
fixed. The sun was the only developer used in making the print.
5 Fun Facts About the Sun
1. The Sun’s diameter is about 110 times Earth’s.
2. The Sun makes up 99.86% of the Solar System’s mass.
3. You could fit approximately 1 million Earth’s inside the Sun.
4. It takes light from the Sun approximately 8 minutes and
20 seconds to reach Earth.
5. The Sun is currently classified as a Yellow Dwarf, but in
approximately 6.4 billion years it will become a Red Giant
and will expand to engulf Mercury and Venus.
And a Brief Definition of a Sun Print:
A sun print refers to multiple printing techniques which use
sunlight as a developing or fixing agent.
In Every Filter in Final Cut Pro, the filters in the digital editing
software Final Cut Pro that are usually used to enhance,
embellish, or otherwise manipulate images becomes the subject
and the content of the video itself.
19th century acculturation of two groups living thousands of
miles apart, but sharing the same name, depending on who you
talk to and what language you say it in. Parallel histories of
invasion, assimilation, aspirations, valuation, and re-evaluation.
Prospectors, colonists, and tourists searching future sites of
luxury resources and romance.
Text/audio drawn from Lord Macaulay’s Minute on Indian Education
(1835), Capt. Richard H. Pratt’s speech advocating for Indian
Industrial schools (1892), “Christopher Columbus” Mel-o-Toons
(1960), Jaypee Greens Luxury Condo promotional video (2009),
GE Show n’ Tell Picturesound Indian Pow-Wow (1964).
Adapted from “Eadweard Muybridge: Fragments of a Tesseract”
by Hollis Frampton, 1973.
Short excerpt from a work in progress exploring why and how
Jurors Benjamin Balcom and Kelly Gallagher, present a program of
their own work in conversation with selections from the UWM
Film Archive. Following the presentation, Gallagher and Balcom
will participate in a moderated panel discussion of how the
presented archival material has influenced or is otherwise
related to their practice. They will also interrogate and explore
one another’s work, while inviting the audience to do the same.
Historical and representational interrogation is a mode common
to these two makers. Their work is grounded in discourse with
the moving image object and its role in society; perception and
actuality; history and contemporary experience. In this
presentation we have asked them to orient themselves and the
experience of the audience in relationship to influence, history,
and each other.
Topsy, the famous “Baby” elephant, was electrocuted at Coney Island on January 4, 1903. We secured an excellent picture of the execution. The scene opens with keeper leading Topsy to the place of execution. After copper plates or electrodes were fastened to her feet, 6,600 volts of electricity were turned on. The elephant is seen to become rigid, throwing her trunk in the air, and then is completely enveloped in smoke from the burning electrodes. The current is cut off and she falls forward to the ground dead.
Wandering through the city, wondering about the potentialities of space, wishing and wanting a full experience of the virtual. These thoughts are rooted to spaces on the outskirts, rendered without detail. Listen to the code. An indecipherable alphabet floods the brain. “Space is really a bad metaphor for the Internet.”
A mirrored discourse. The object we see is that which wants enumeration, but it is never said quite right. We are looking at speech from both sides of the mirror, listening to the wretch who elaborates upon the grid of desire.
Actual or virtual? Here are actualities culled from the network: two acts of falling, two registrations of time. These images mark the oneiric margins of the archive. The re-inscription of the digital to analog (and back again) conflates the actual and the virtual in an uncanny drift.
Annabelle Serpentine Dance is a short silent American film produced and distributed by Edison Manufacturing Company in 1895. It is one of several released by the studio the late 19th century.
One of the century’ s major animation artists Reiniger pioneered a distinctive style of black and white silhouette animation in her interpretations of classic myths and fairy tales.
Equal parts landscape, industrial and portrait film, “Steel Mill Rolling” is a document of a functioning steel mill in Western Pennsylvania where the filmmaker’s family has worked for nearly 100 years. This plant operates with a fraction of the laborers it once employed,and the operations are relegated to specialized processing. The steel slabs transformed at this mill in Farrell, PA come primarily from Russia, where the government subsidizes their production. It is a contemporary portrait from Russia, where the government subsidizes their production. It is a contemporary portrait of the steel industry, considering the economic, political, and environmental realities of multinational steel manufacturing.
This short work utilizes imprints from Soviet-era film leader culled from dozens of films viewed while working as an artist in residence in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in 2014. The material was largely 1980’s-era educational and propaganda films that contained a broad range of content, but had only subtle variations on more or less the same leader. Foregrounding the often ignored hand-written or machine printed artifacts found on leader, the imprints become the primary source material for a psychotronic audio/visual salvo set to an original score.
In 1984, for three weeks in May, what appeared to be a giant cloud shrouded the small town of Hüllen-Hüllen in darkness. Before the end of the month the cloud had dispersed and life seemed to return to normal. One month later, however, the town was hastily abandoned and its residents were nowhere to be found.
An exploration of the interplay between the formal and representational characteristics of water in motion. Soundtrack by Francis Plagne
An expanded view of the lunch crowd at an open-air restaurant, from a bird’s-eye of the exterior to the depths of the interior.
Four generations of grain, choreographed turbulence finds form through static frequencies from the mouth.
Inspired by Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Begotten, Dog Star Man, Phil Solomon’s films, and Peter Kubelka’s 1958 Schwechater Beer commercial, Jimmy Joe Roche’s Leather provides the perfect nightmare fuel.
“Wake” is a dirge in celluloid. It is a celebration of my fathers life, a meditation on his body and a visual record of mourning. When my father died, there was never a chance to see his body after life had left it. This film was made by placing his ashes directly on 35mm film in a dark room and moving the film a frame at a time. What we see in this process of photograming is not the object in the photographic sense, but instead a representation of the space surrounding an object. The photogram is a shadow charting the distance between things.
City 3 is an improvised, analog, expanded cinema performance by Sam Hoolihan and John Marks that focuses on the transportation systems, pedestrian life, green spaces, and industrial textures of Minneapolis, MN, incorporating a triptych of original, artist-processed 16mm films with an original live electroacoustic sound accompaniment.
When the machine is a symbol of modern hybrid TV modulator psychological horror of communism.
In any photographic process there are essentially two opposing forces at work: one, the developer, aims to turn silver salts to black; the other, the fixer, wants to dissolve those salts. In Chorus, dry granular forms of both are added to the film stock simultaneously. When water is introduced, each begins a struggle for its intended conclusion. The film bears witness to the conflict, an ecstatic sum of individual grains asserting.
“As we move together, be aware of the many-sided nature of the causes of behavior, do not be looking for one right reason for what happens, nor aim at pat answers why this does this or that. … People require for play, activity, striving, unpredictability, faith, companionship and supervision. They feel better and are much nicer people after a turn on the hill.” – Sister Alice Francis (edited)
Mermaids flip a tale of twin detriments, domiciles cradle morph invaders, crocodile trails swallow two-legged twigs in a fecund mash of nature’s outlaws … down in the Everglades. Wayward Fronds references a series of historical events that helped shape the Florida Everglades today, while fictionalizing its geological future and its effects on both native and exotic inhabitants. Nature begins to takeover, engulfs and tames civilization after centuries of attack, and even guides it into its mysterious aqueous depths, forcing humans to adapt and evolve to its surroundings.
Featuring speakers of Chinuk Wawa, a Native American language from the Pacific Northwest, Wawa begins slowly, patterning various forms of documentary and ethnography. Quickly, the patterns tangle and become confused and commingled, while translating and transmuting ideas of cultural identity, language, and history.
A meditation on our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence… “The peacock painted on the window will never dance or speak. It is only the peacock that lived in the forest which used to speak, dance, and walk in a sweet manner.”
The signboard builders of Shwebontha Street in Yangon, Burma prompt a search for the sonic and visual traces of a country in transition. Performance of military, labor and sport suffuse the sallow hunger of foreign eyes; pleasure’s lilting arrow prompts scalar confusion; past and future swirl in the peeling bells of global imperative, like hydropower.
Evoking imagery and memories of the atomic age, THE PLASTIC GARDEN summons the ghost of a forgotten future, the grim fatality of a total nuclear war that held the world hostage half a century ago. A nuclear war, once a tangible inevitability felt by many, has seemingly slipped into oblivion in recent times. Despite going out of fashion as a symbol for the socio-political imaginary, the nuclear drama, like a malicious return of the repressed, continues to haunt the contemporary world in various forms, with the recent North Korean threat as one of the latest episodes.
A visual haiku of an ephemeral and potent journey into the unconscious through hand manipulated super 8mm film. It combines sound with imagery to create a trance-like state and glimpse into the realm of fleeting memories.
Lensed in Ohio’s Broadview Developmental Center in 1967 by secret camera genius and audiovisual healer Jeffrey Paull, Scrapbook tells the story of audacious autistic Donna Washington in her own words, as she encounters pictures of one of her former selves fifty years later.
A dark tale of Love and Dismemberment. The Waldgeist & Me explores the many intricacies of love and hate and how the two can be intertwined. Written and directed by Joe Bichard. The film also includes the vocal talents of Matt King (aka Super Hans from Peepshow) and immense sound design by Oswald Skillbard.
This film draws from a long lineage of movement studies for the camera – including Muybridge’s motion studies of both humans and animals. Realized completely in-camera, the goal for this film was to transfer aspects of live performance execution to a one-take process. “Pas de cheval,” or step of the horse, is the classical ballet action I’m referencing but this interpretation is modernized and hybridized into a montaged synthesis of unison.
Limbs detach, bodies open to reveal hidden objects, peculiar figures gather among stepped archways, hesitating to touch. The Wrong Story wavers at the frayed edges of a narrative, unraveling the artist’s desire for both connection and solitude.
Waiting, snipping, shaving, smoking, and chatting. These are the daily rhythms of a barbershop in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio where brothers Fausto (age 83) and Emilio (age 75) have worked together for decades.
A Los Angeles street film staring empty signs, radio from passing cars and human sign spinners, some with a pulse and some without.
A watershed moment serves as a site for perceptual contemplation and a meditation on the transitory nature of things. Using the multiple meanings of a watershed basin, moment and the literal ‘watershed’, the film is deceivingly simple but unfolds layers of meaning concerning images, representation and ontology.
Remake of the eponyme film of Pierrick Sorin. A comedy about a peeping tom.
This video is part of a series of databending experiments.The process involves taking raw video footage through a series of digital “mistranslations” until the exotic and beautiful underlying digital nature of the original video file emerges from within.
Field Notes is an experimental documentary about the ghosts embedded in the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. The film is structured as a visual and aural field guide to the ghosts spirits and jumbies throughout the island. From personal tales about the soucouyant and lagahoo, to the ghosts of Trinidad’s past.
Inspired by experiments in film-phonography, Check explores the sonic potential of running sequences of patterns through a 16mm film projector. Collages composed of three different patterns and solid patches of black and white were composed and photocopied onto strips of clear film leader. The sequences provide not only the images projected on to the screen, but also the soundtrack to the film.
Filmed on the Central Florida “SpaceCoast”, site of NASA’s launch pads. Dormant spacecraft, arcane text, activated landscape, and the surface of the image work towards a future-past shot reverse shot.
Unmoving rock collapsed to ocean—geology’s “thrust and fold”—becomes the unlikely habitat for two actors’ shadowy encounters with sand, waves, night, desert, dread, calm, trepidation and escape.
An abstracted portrait of actress Jojo Hill as she portrays five different characters in this behind-the-scenes documentary of Uzi’s Party: an experimental pagan teen drama by Lyra Hill.
Sunlight sparking through a window sets into motion this story of a woman recovering from a break up. She heads outside looking for love, but what she doesn’t expect to fnd is a perfect match. With music by the Wet Darlings.
A study in visual rhythm by shooting architecture with certain camera angles and movements in Manhattan, New York. All edited in-camera and hand-processed afterwards.
Model Fifty-One Fifty-Six displays the physical changes of the maker’s heart since being born with the congenital disorder, Transposition of the Great Vessels. This chronicle showcases a movement from human to cyborg that connects personal vulnerability to 1980s science fiction.
a. A visible mark, such as a footprint, made or left by the passage of a person, animal, or thing.
b. Evidence or an indication of the former presence or
existence of something; a vestige.
A barely perceivable indication
Merging himself and the young gymnasts of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta into one composite character, he enters an ambivalent position between envy, identification, rejection and critique of these highly controlled bodies and their restricted performative roles. The video follows the preparation and execution of a floor routine, suspending the marginal moment right before the action, encapsulating ambition, the pressure to succeed and the looming possibility of failure.
Amid the arboreal giants and temperate organisms of a primeval rain forest lurks an elusive luminous force.
The film “Rest in Me” describes an everyday routine oscillating between devotion and surrender. Malz’s rapid rhythmic montage of found footage from feature films from over the last twenty-five years chronicles in visual terms the increasing outsourcing of physical presence in favour of virtual identity. What began as the opening up of the world through the internet has mutated into an increasingly comprehensive encryption and surveillance of the individual subject.
Four Winnipeg houses as documented by reporter Lillian Gibbons, and illustrated by Arlene Osen. Shot for the 9th annual WNDX OneTake Super 8 Event.
Shiverings in anticipation of the approaching chill.
I buried a 100-foot 35mm film under fallen leaves, about 15 miles from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, for a night to expose it to the possible remaining of the radioactive materials. The area was once an evacuation zone but now people live there after the removal of the contaminated soil.
Bad bitches have existed in all time periods. Exploring the concept of “badness” as defiance against social norms, and the gendered characterization of the term “bitch,” is a short film moment intended to reframe the phrase positively. In this short incantation, I face a portrait of my namesake, Elisabeth, whose scandalous
amorous relations shook the bedrock of society in aristocratic Norway and Denmark in the late 1800s. I pay respect to her otous spirit, bravery and the unshakable confidence I detect in her smirk.
Events of a summer day in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park.
There are icons in Cyprus that are centuries old. They bloom like flowers in houses, churches, monasteries, and markets. Last summer marked the 40th anniversary of Cyprus’s invasion and partition. Today the island remains divided with abandoned spaces on both sides of the Green Line. For decades every US administration has exploited this partition, using military bases on the island to conduct surveillance in the Middle East. Aniconisa prayer, a window to heaven, to a listening ear.
This is a (dysfunctional) dialectical conversation that could also be experienced as an internal monologue. S & J represent to micro and macro of one’s mind. They are contrary to each other and this difference in perspective leads to the impossibility of understanding, while simultaneously being the reason for their codependency.
Journeys in Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta.
“A journey without arrival in the great tradition of Canadian landscape travelogues.” – Richard Kerr
A knight traverses the chessboard, as a bored radical traverses a Winnipeg supermarket by chance (played by Chance Taylor).
Consider Cameron Frye (played by Alan Ruck) from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off stuck in the speculative space between point and pixel. Video art in the expanded field.
The Klein Bottle, a 4D object rendered in 3D reduced to 2D (4D->3D->2D). A spatial analysis of a non-orientable surface with no boundary, a space potentially like our own.
Innocuous vacation footage of a hike up Volcán Pacaya combine with images from the Guatemala Death Squad Diary combine with travel guide suggestions forgetting the most out of your trip produce this video.
The object shatters our ability to discuss it sanely.
After reading another Monday morning Chicago news list of names, of those killed by handguns, I started glitching photographs of guns. I ‘steal’ photos of guns hosted online, and ‘break’ those photos, manipulating the code supporting the image, a symbolic trafficking in stolen guns.
Moreso than photographing the subject into nothingness, the camera here reassembles its subject with every repetition allowing the image to constantly redefine itself while simultaneously heading down path towards the undefinable.
Fort Morgan is a short film inspired by a brick fort of the same name on the Alabama coast. The film uses live-action footage and drawn animation to examine the geometric plan, physical materials, and structure of the 200-year-old fort. Following an intricate geometric diagram, the fort grows of its own accord like an oyster shell or a crystal forming, until it is eccentrically shaped, encrusted, and overgrown.
For every trip and/ or move we bring various amounts of suitcases and boxes filled with our tactile possessions. Have we become obsessed or is it merely a necessity in order to be comfortable in one’s own skin? I don’t know…
Babash is a parrot. He lives in Los Angeles. Kept by an Iranian family, he speaks mostly Farsi. Sometimes he mixes English and Azeri into his conversations. Behrouz Rae has made friends with him over the years. Babash is a portrait about a special relationship and the domestic surroundings in which it grew.
Sitting beside the screen is myself and a bag of 16mm film scraps. A long piece of film is threaded into the projector. Once engaged, I reach into the bag and randomly select additional pieces of film, and splice them onto the tail end of the strip running through the projector. The scraps are of a variety of discarded material: leader; scratched and worn film;non-image. The result is a film whose production (editing) takes place simultaneously with its exhibition. The film ends either when a splice breaks or I can no longer keep up with the film dragging along the ground – MR
We’ve sent the program booklet to the printers! It will come back in Black and White, but if you want a little color, here it is:
The Work of Fern Silva
Friday, Fine Arts Cinema, Mitchell Hall B91
Oddly enough, when watching the work of Fern Silva, I find myself hearing the opening lines of the television series Farscape. In the series, astronaut John Crichton finds himself flung across the universe through a wormhole. In the opening credits he muses over not knowing how to share the wonders he’s seen with those he’s left home. Silva, on Earth, finds the same dilemma and, being in possession of a Bolex, solves it.
In Silva’s work expect to find a tension between what was, and what is; between extinction and preservation. Forests burn, carpets fly and, always, there is an eagle. The vantage point here is one of a traveler. A person who is in a place long enough to record it, long enough to find boredom, but not free from a departure date and time. A traveler not quite free enough to leave the hotel room and the television behind to find their own adventure. As with Marker’s globe trotting time traveler in Sans Soleil, the television provides a deceptive window into the culture at large. For Silva’s traveler though, media invades the space of the travelogue. It bends and is bent along with it. It writes the soundtrack, and perhaps parts of the script as well. The traveler may, at times, lack a bit of cultural sensitivity. However, this traveler has only come long enough to find the need to return home, with a head full of strange television and strange landscapes.
Silva’s craft with celluloid is deft and easy to consume. Set shots, tv screens, soundtracks, field recordings, and verité are cut together with skill. In Silva’s traveler we might find ourselves and consider our own cultural tourism, for a moment.
Join us Friday, 3pm. Artist in attendance. For now.
Wayward Fronds 2014 13mins
Tender Feet 2013 16mm 10mins
Concrete Parlay 2012 16mm 18mins
Passage Upon the Plume 2011 16mm 7mins
Peril of the Antilles 2011 6mins
In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails 2010 13mins
Wow! Thanks so much for your help this year with our fundraising on Indiegogo.
There is so much more to do, of course. The programming, the parties, and the rock shows. And then, there’s
Please allow us to introduce
Marika Borgeson is a filmmaker and photographer currently based in Los Angeles, California. Fascinated by the fluidity and mythology of American histories, she uses film and video to explore the suspension of time and the creation of legends through historic sites, museums, landscapes, and archives. She also works with 16mm film using cameraless techniques and alternative processes.
Her work has screened in galleries and festivals, including the New York Film Festival in Views from the Avant Garde, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Void Gallery in Derry, Northern Ireland, and the Media City Film Festival in Windsor, Canada. Before receiving an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke University, Marika served as the Assistant Director of the Experiments in Cinema Film Festival in Albuquerque, NM.
Kelly Gallagher is an experimental animator and filmmaker currently based in Iowa City. She is the 2014 recipient of the Helen Hill Award for her political cutout animation, “Pen Up the Pigs,” which explores connections between the history of slavery and modern day racist policing.
Her films have screened in venues across the world including: the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, Bryn Mawr Film Institute, ICA Artists’ Film Biennial, Winnipeg Underground Film Festival, London Hackney Picturehouse, Berlin Mobile Kino, and Alternative Film Video Festival Belgrade. She is interested in the history of handmade cinema and the radical possibilities of collage film and cutout animation. She is currently finishing an experimental documentary on abolitionist John Brown.
Ben Balcom is film and video maker currently living, working, and teaching in Milwaukee, WI. His work in film and digital (and digital-film hybrids) investigates ordinary objects and affects through the lens of speculative realism. In addition to making films and videos, Ben also is the curator and co-founder of a neighborhood cinema in Milwaukee called Microlights, which specializes in avant-garde film and video work (www.microlightscinema.com).
There you have it, three amazing makers. They are going to have a lot to show. So please join them this year. The Milwaukee Underground Film Festival runs from April 30 to May 3rd, 2015. See you then!
This is it friends, we’re bringing the house down. Fundraising for the 15th Annual Milwaukee Underground Film Fest is now open! Let’s work together to make this year 2015 the best year the festival’s ever seen. April 30 through May 3. Mark your calendars.
You can also just make a donation directly to the festival:
Yo yo, all you beautiful young hepcats who support all we do here at the Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, we are proud to present our festival staff for 2015! We’re building this festival from the ground up to bring you the best in film and artistic culture from around the world, so get ready for it. April 30 to May 3, 2015, will certainly be four days to remember.
This past Winter, Milwaukee Underground Film brought Mono No Aware to Microlights for a screening to compliment their two days of hands on filmmaking workshops. Just after this year’s call for entries posted, we were treated to the work of Josh Lewis.
From Lewis came two entries in a series of “Doubts.” Doubt #6 and Doubt #9 come from a collection of 9 films created in a laboratory, mad scientist fashion. Working under a red light, in the basement of a lab (which already existed nearly as a basement itself to begin with), Josh scattered various chemicals onto outstretched canvases of 16mm black and white film. In his own words, “the struggle to maintain control quickly gives way to a kind of desperate religion.”
A documentary of his exploits in that basement, an exploration of his doubts about the outcome of his filmmaking process manifests itself in these artifact reels. Unknown combinations of chemicals applied to the celluloid surface expose the emulsion’s thickness. Exposures along the line of the strip make its vertical run clear. Meanwhile, chemicals continually shout out their acidic force or lack of it, their ability to make permanent or erase, and a general frenzy of applicative hits and misses.
One of my favorite moments in handmade film is the very thing that digital exhibition of them is completely incapable of– the refraction of light along the edge of exposure. Where the emulsion is removed by chemical or physical action, the projection of light to a distant screen renders the bevel of the exposure visible. Like bright sunlight grazing a window blind, there is that small bend of the lamp’s rays. It’s a bend that spreads over the distance from emulsion to screen that results in a display of an edge’s depth. Without the distance from the bulb, through gel, to screen, this is lost in the transfer to digital.
The Doubt series then becomes something of a meta-document. A document of its own making, one which, once described, I find entertaining and unforgettable. Mad scientist, in the basement of the lab, trying to come up with something but coming up with something else entirely. Beyond that beginning image, this series manages to document the space in which it is projected and develops, for a brief moment, an on-screen record of room, lamp, equipment and distance. It is in the nature of a no camera projection, that one can find that the bending of light past thin boundaries, into patterned refractions, renders form and depth, light, darkness, and color. And it can only be found in that room, at that time.
Find it here.
A Review of the Friday 7pm Program of 2014’s Milwaukee Underground Film Festival
by Connor Martin
(Matt Rossoni & the set-up for his performance piece Lunar Phases)
On Friday, May 2nd the audience of the 14th Milwaukee Underground Film Festival was able to glean why this annual event has shown continued success and growth since its genesis. Each piece in this 80 minute program managed to flourish on their own merits, but what speaks to the quality of the festival as a whole is how well each film in this program functioned as components of a larger machine. This program was my vote for the most successful of the competition and since three of our nine juror awards came from that evening it would seem the sentiment was shared.
(Peacock by Alexander Stewart)
Appropriately chosen as the piece to kickstart this program, Peacock by Alexander Stewart deconstructs cinema into a few of its core components through its dazzling manipulation of light, shape, and movement. A feast for both eyes and ears, Stewart’s 16mm film seemingly adopts a referential approach, intentional or not, towards the musical genres of classical and jazz as it muses on the concepts of repetition, pattern, and eventual variation. For an audience with a clean palette, Peacock serves as an effective usher into the world of the senses as it offers itself up as unadulterated graphical and aural pleasure.
(Short by Robert Todd)
On the heels of Peacock, Robert Todd’s 16mm short, Short (winner of this year’s best experimental film), continued to mine deeper into the concept of using light and shape to create a series of evocative, emerging imagery. As the variable shutter on his camera “sleeps and rises” light floods the frame momentarily only to slowly recede, contour, and then reveal a loose narrative through masterful composition and editing. Through the collision of silent, high-contrast imagery, Todd’s piece began to the bring the audience into the realm of storytelling segueing effectively into the films that followed.
(Nile Perch by Josh Gibson)
Nile Perch (taking second place in the category of documentary), tracks the migration of a fish caught in Uganda’s Lake Victoria from market to export commodity. Josh Gibson’s 35mm hand-made film fashions a “modern-day parable of the effects of globalization on Africa” through a striking exaggeration of the play between light and dark that accentuates the skin of his subjects as well as amplifying the sun’s impact on a their environment. The results are uniquely effective in wrapping this minimalistic approach to the genre with a truly alluring set of aesthetics that typically rest in the hands of experimental directors such as the aforementioned Robert Todd.
(Lunar Phases by Matt Rossoni)
Lunar Phases, a 16mm performance piece by Matt Rossoni interrupted the form of the evening’s content. Rossoni’s empty-projector offers the audience a chance to experience the phases of the moon in a new context. By experimenting with the artifice of cinema and its many facets, Matt’s performance captured the movements and magnitude of celestial bodies and placed them within the confines of a theater. This manipulation of the mechanics of film and the spaces they typically occupy offered Rossoni’s audience a different perspective on the opportunities of the medium.
(A Study in Natural Magic by Charlotte Pryce)
(Light Year by Paul Clipson)
(45 7 Broadway by Tomonari Nishikawa)
The next three pieces continued the theme of exploring the realms of space, shape, and light. Charlotte Pryce’s A Study in Natural Magic, was a gleaning of “an alchemist’s spell; the transmutation of light into substance; a glimpse of gold.” Light Year, a film from director Paul Clipson and commissioned by the San Francisco Exploratorium, manifests itself as a collage of images that study the water systems and architecture of the bay area’s waterfront both through abstract and formal approaches. An impressive demonstration of composition and the layered image that paint a portrait of the area. The second to last film of the evening, 45 7 Broadway by Tomonari Nishikawa delves intro the bustle of Times Square. Described as showcasing “noises in visual and sound”, Nishikawa’s color splitting technique that effectively created three layers of imagery that both complimented the tone of the space as well as distorted the onslaught of digital advertisements, transcending the intersection and its inhabitants into new realities.
(Let Us Persevere In What We Have Resolved Before We Forget by Ben Russell)
The last piece in the program , Let Us Persevere In What We Have Resolved Before We Forget, by Ben Russell (winner of this year’s best documentary) rapped up the evening with a beautifully shot and realized attempt at highlighting forms of happiness outside of the economic, career driven success of modern capitalism. Through wonderfully patient and visually stimulating shots, Russell muses on a slice of life who’s simplicity feels foreign and uncomfortable. We are convinced of this existence’s legitimacy and ultimately its allure, by a Samuel Beckett quoting wise man clad in an Arsenal soccer jersey.
What defines a successful program? This amalgamation of works stands as an prime example of that definition. Interwoven pieces that, devoid of their creator’s intent, inform and enhance both the visual attraction and thematic strength of the works surrounding. This is a testament not only to the overall quality of the submissions that M.U.F.F. receives, but points to an innate understanding of the medium and its intricacies that allow the organizers of the festival continued success.