Peoples Choice
Juried Films

Selected by: Geoffrey Bottomley, retired motion picture technician, Barb Cassells, school teacher, Barbara Dyck, musician & store owner, Mary Ann Griggs, retired, Don Marshall, town councilor and business owner, Dale Smart, police officer, Dan Sullivan, deputy mayor, Dawn Watson, business owner

August 3, 8:30pm, Symphony Barn

To broaden the scope of the film festival and be more inclusive to filmmakers locally and across the country we advertised extensively for submissions for a screening of short films. The response brought in films from individual filmmakers, film collectives and independent distributors.
These submissions became a part of the strategy and continuing effort to involve the participation of the larger community in the festival. The strategy also included inviting eight individuals from West Grey to jury the submitted films. This required two separate jury screenings to go through the sixty submitted films. The aim of this process is to familiarize individuals with the workings of the Durham Art Gallery and the Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film.

The jury members were offered an entertaining evening that exposed them to a sample of some of the issues surrounding contemporary independent film. One of the aims of this process is to demystify some of the preconceived concerns that accompany contemporary art viewing today, especially film and video. We are consciously building bridges with our whole community in an annual public event that has become a significant part of our cultural environment.

The films submitted include a variety of techniques and genres ranging from low tech animations, through documentaries to the traditional narrative of story telling. The jury’s responsibility was to decide for themselves which they found to be the most appealing; they were given direction in how they should vote on the merit of each film, judging content, imagery, and entertainment value. Consequently the films chosen represent a variety of genres and subjects with no particular overall theme tying them together apart from their broad appeal.

The program of selected short films was about 55 minutes in length and we have balanced that with a late arrival from France, Aperghis, Storm Beneath a Skull, a documentary by the French director Catherine Maximoff.

This documentary is focused on the work Georges Aperghis, the French composer. As a prolific artist he shares his time between vocal and instrumental writing, musical theatre and opera. His works, which number more than a hundred pieces, makes him one of the major composers of the contemporary music scene.

This film takes several paths as it follows the progress of the musicians in the challenging preparation for the final performance. Interspersed with the musical proceedings, Aperghis muses philosophically about the human as a fragmented being in a fragmented world where humour and insecurity is never far away. The musicians reflect upon their relationship to the composer, his music and the strenuous technical and intellectual challenge required in tackling the music score. Their belief in Aperghis and his score enable them to tackle the challenge and explore the boundaries of what music as contemporary art can be. The film culminates in a performance where singers, music and video imagery intertwine into one complete flourish of theatricality and artmaking gesture.

This feels like the leading edge of music creativity. Not creativity as the invention of a new tune, but the genius required in challenging the norms of what we know and expect and turning those expectations upside down. Breaking new ground to change and reconfigure the notion of musicality is also demanding of the audience and requires leaving the comfortable complacent seat of expectation. It is risky, nervy, maybe even insulting on a visceral level, but there is also excitement and wonder about the new direction we have witnessed.

- Tony Massett

Birdlings Two
6 minutes (2004) Canada/USA
Davina Pardo
This documentary explores an adult daughter’s relationship to her father. The metaphor that drives the film is an animated device her father created decades before in collaboration with Norman McLaren. This metaphor bridges past to present as contemplation on the playful spontaneity of youth and its subsequent loss with aging.

coming + going
3 minutes (2005) Canada
Larissa Fan
A portrait of the energy of urban life in split-screen.

Fire #3
2:45 minutes (2003) Canada
John Price
Working with unexposed film-stock, Price labours in a darkened space using candles as the image and light source for generating the film’s content. Such humble techniques of rudimentary form transcend the ordinary into eloquent flames of romantic nuance.

Miracle
7 minutes (2004) Canada
Kelly O’Brien
Ah! The neurosis of the human condition. A disarmingly frank diary of the middle-aged (hope this term is not offensive) filmmaker as she stresses the dilemmas regarding conception and pregnancy. This autobiographical documentary is an explicit look at her concern with getting pregnant, maintaining emotional balance and delivering a healthy baby. The film moves along in a jaunty and humorous manner that is shadowed in an all-pervading pathos.

Nocturno
6:14 minutes (2003) Canada
Naoko Sasaki
We are taken on a journey through the process of making bread. Yet we are unaware of this domestic task due to the close up perspectives and particular lighting technique that embraces the abstract qualities of this labour. As movie stars have been said to embrace the camera, here the opposite occurs where the camera embraces its subject and reveals the lush sensuous textures and gestures inducing a spiritual connectedness that transcends the corporeal

Bug Girl
5:47 minutes (2003) Canada
Susan Rynard
A girl in search of her cat roams an idyllic country setting, considering the philosophic nature of lost objects. She accidentally ingests a bee and subsequently wears a halo of live buzzing bees. This halo paired with a heightened colour technique imparts a surreal fairy-tale quality in the quest for the lost feline.

Freak Girls
4 minutes (2006) Canada
Tamara Vukov
A montage of archival material from Coney Island and the vaudeville era presenting the female figure as a performing object for entertainment and exhibition purposes. The filmmaker’s hand in the process has a light but significant gesture in the way she juxtaposes the historical footage.

I
3:17 minutes (2006) Canada
Sandra Gregson
A sequence of line drawings on a blank piece of paper rendering a single eye. The eye which at times is drawn with an economy of gesture moves through an emotional range of expressions. A simple contruction yet compelling as only an eye can be.

Pond
3 minutes (2007) Canada
Liz Zetlin
A straightforward, up-close look at the typical Ontario pond. Smooth water, rippled surface and water lillies are the backdrop to Don McKay’s recitation of his poem, Pond.

The Foxhole Manifesto
4 minutes (2007) Canada
Nick Fox-Gieg
In your face, strident and unsubtle, Fox-Gieg bombards the viewer with his particular insight into the spiritual significance of God. The tough graphic imagery is very much in keeping with the voice over narrative that drives this vehicle downhill at full speed with no brakes. Heaven help us!!

Two Peanuts
4:35 minutes (2007) Canada
Michael V. Smith
Peanuts the clown ventures onto the streets of the city in search of a soul-mate. Not an easy proposition considering the nature of his attire. Part bunny, part exotic dancer with a hint of Pippy Longstocking. His whimsical and adorable altar-ego unselfconsciously parades to the rhythm of a Feist soundtrack in a street performance that is both charming and non-confrontational to the unsuspecting pedestrian passers-by.

Perfect
4 minutes
Elizabeth Belliveau
An animation constructed in the dense introspection of child storybook innocence, where thoughts become images and images become romantic metaphors of love and possibility. A gentle musing of gesture and transformation.

Aperghis, Storm Beneath a Skull
59 minutes (2006) France
Catherine Maximoff
A documentary that looks at the rehearsal of a music composition by Georges Aperghis, the French composer. This film epitomizes the collaborative nature of new music and the remarkable agility required by the musicians in bringing to fruition the abstract notions of the composer.


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