Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film 2008

Fear Remembered

Schedule 2008Tickets and DirectionsFabulous Festival of Fringe Film HomeOpening ReceptionA Pathless LandFear RememberedPeople's ChoiceHandmade Film WorkshopHarvesting the YukonExperiments With TruthTrue Meaning of PicturesTrip-Hop MetropolisAndrew Lampert: Projection Performance



August 3, 9pm, Symphony Barn

by Tess Takahashi
This program includes seven films and videos made between 2000 and 2008 that speculate about how we represent reality in an age when images are so easily reproduced, altered, and disseminated. The filmmakers and artists in this program explore the meaning of documentary truth through digital animation, experimental collage, and found footage, whether it be on 16mm celluloid, video, or YouTube. In particular, these works examine how we represent war and its effects on human beings under present conditions. Together, they interrogate what we can know about contemporary Afganistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, United States, and Viet Nam in the 1960s and 1970s. How, these films and videos ask, do aesthetic choices impact the ways we understand what different media represent?

Julia Meltzer and David Thorne
Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, with Rami Farah

How, they ask, does documentary footage come to be? And how does altering that footage shift its meaning? Many of these films use footage found on the internet or in material archives in order to evoke different senses of what constitutes the truth. For example, Dominic Angerame’s Anaconda Targets takes digital helicopter footage of an air strike in Afganistan off the internet and refuses to alter it – except to clarify the sound and image. Stephen Andrews’ The Quick and the Dead takes digital footage of the aftermath of a hostile military encounter in an unidentified middle-eastern country and reproduces it by hand as a hazy animation. Travis Wilkerson’s National Archive V.1 uses declassified 16mm celluloid film footage of Viet Nam taken from the cockpits of fighter planes in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The images of the green jungle below are punctuated by explosions and poetic phrases. However, Angerame, Andrews and Wilkerson all examine documents of actual events in ways that move between aesthetic beauty, emotional uncertainty and the horror of war.

Other works in this program take liberties with facts in an active attempt to evoke the feelings that arise under difficult political and personal conditions. Julia Meltzer and David Thorne (also known as the Speculative Archive) and Walid Ra’ad (often working in conjunction with the Atlas Group Archive) often utilize found and invented archival materials to evoke the senses of loss, despair, and uncertainty present under conditions of political unrest, war, and geographical displacement. In Meltzer and Thorne’s not a matter of if but when, Syrian actor Rami Farah spins lyrical, evocative stories and conversations that respond to the turbulent political environment in Damascus between 2005-6. Through phrases and allegory, not a matter of if but when points to the pervasive uncertainty of an entire population. Similarly, Walid Ra’ad’s Hostage: the Bachar Tapes (English Version) operates as allegory for larger historical currents. Hostage reinterprets Lebanon’s “Western Hostage Crisis” in the 1980s and 1990s through the experiences of an invented Arab hostage, Souheil Bachar, played by an actor who would be well-known to a Lebanese audience if not to Westerners. Ra’ad’s tape claims to present two of fifty-three video tapes supposedly made by Bachar, a gesture that alludes to the fragmentation of historical information and the difficulty of translating personal experience.

Finally, the last two works in this night’s program bring together a different mixture of documentation and fantasy to describe life under politically restrictive conditions in a post-9/11 world. Jaqueline Goss’s Stranger Comes to Town pairs audio interviews with people who recently have crossed the US border with animated images from the on-line World of Warcraft video game. In it, the personal stories of anonymous border-crossers are voiced by horned, pierced warriors as they wander over a strange, invented landscape. John Greyson’s 14.3 Seconds tells a story of forbidden love, loss, and absence in present day Iraq, woven together from a few remaining scraps of information. 14.3 Seconds attempts to reconstruct a budding romance between an Iraqi translator and an American soldier as they work together to reconstruct a lost archive of film. All of these works undertake narrative and formal experiments with truth in an effort to illuminate pervasive – if often inarticulable – structures of feeling.



The Quick and the Dead
(Canada, 2004, 1 min)
Stephen Andrews
The Quick and the Dead reveals glimpses of a jumble of burning equipment, meandering American soldiers, and the half-naked body of an enemy soldier. This animation is based on a videoclip taken by an unidentified individual that Andrews found on-line and reproduced via hundreds of hand-made, three-color crayon drawings on parchment.

National Archive V.1
(US, 2001, 15 min)
Travis Wilkerson
In National Archive V.1 Wilkerson uses declassified U.S. military footage taken of aerial attacks in Vietnam in the early 1970s. Green jungles, orange explosions, and blue sky are overlaid by captions that refer to objects that could not be visible to the 16mm camera lodged in the cockpit of a bomber plane.

Hostage: The Bashar Tapes (English Version)
(US, 2000, 18min)
Walid Ra’ad and the Atlas Group Archive
Hostage: The Bachar Tapes (English version) is an experimental videotape about the “The Western Hostage Crisis” in Lebanon in the 1980s and early 1990s, told through the imaginary testimony of Souheil Bachar. As Ra’ad writes: “In 1999, Souheil Bachar collaborated with The Atlas Group (a non-profit cultural research foundation based in Lebanon) to produce 53 videotapes about his captivity. Tapes #17 and #31 are the only two tapes Bachar makes available outside of Lebanon. In the tapes, Bachar addresses the cultural, textual, and sexual aspects of his detention with the Americans.”

Anaconda Targets
(US, 2004, 12 min)
Dominic Angerame
Angerame did little to alter the web-footage that comprises Anaconda Targets - except for clarifying its image and sound. Angerame describes this piece as follows: “About 2,000 troops from the US led military coalition were engaged in close in combat on March 4, 2002 with small pockets of suspected al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the rugged terrain of northeastern Afghanistan as part of an operation called Operation Acaconda....The footage in the piece was filmed and audio taped from a US gunship helicopter that was part of this mission.”

not a matter of if but when: brief records of a time in which expectations were repeatedly raised and lowered and people grew exhausted from never knowing if the moment was at hand or still to come
(US, 2007, 17 min)
Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, with Rami Farah
Meltzer and Thorne developed not a matter of it but when with Rami Farah in 2005–06 in Damascus, Syria -- a time “marked by momentous events: Rafiq Harriri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, was assassinated, the Syrians were pressured to withdraw from Lebanon after a 30-year occupation, the Cedar Revolution came and went, elections were held in Iraq and were followed by a descent into civil war, and Hezbollah strengthened its position in Southern Lebanon…Through a combination of direct address and fantastical narrative, Rami’s improvisations speak to living in a condition of uncertainty, chaos and stasis.” This piece is currently in the 2008 Whitney Biennial of American Art.

14.3 seconds
(Canada, 2008, 9min)
John Greyson
14.3 Seconds begins with the premise that after the bombing of the Iraqi Film Archive by US planes in 2003 only 14.3 seconds of celluloid could be salvaged from the wreckage. Greyson’s piece tells the intimate story of two men (a US soldier and an Iraqi translator), who strive to reconstruct a hundred years of Iraqi cinema from these few fragmented images.

Stranger Comes to Town
(US, 2007, 28.30m)
Jacqueline Goss

Stranger Comes to Town

In Stranger Comes to Town, anonymous individuals tell stories about entering the US from behind the masks of video game avatars. In this piece, Goss “focuses on the questions and examinations used to establish identity at the border, and how these processes in turn affect one’s own sense of self and view of the world”. In this piece, Goss re-works animations from three sources: 1) the Department of Homeland Security, 2) the on-line game World of Warcraft, and 3) Google Earth, in order to examine the ways in which people move across shifting global borders.