Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film 2008

Fear Remembered

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August 1, 9pm, Middle Dam, Durham

by Tony Massett
This program is specifically designed to give independent filmmakers the opportunity for their work to be viewed and possibly selected and screened as part of this year’s film festival. To facilitate this process we requested short film/video submissions from individual artists, film collectives, and alternative film distributors around the country.

10th Avatar
10th Avatar,Charuvi Agrawal

Following the success of last year’s jury selection process, which was greatly appreciated by the jurors, we have again selected a jury that comprises a fair representation of the Durham/West Grey community. They were given the mandate of selecting a cross section of films that they found appealing and would be of interest to a larger audience. The jury was given free reign in this decision making process. Of the films submitted, a large proportion were those in the more traditional narrative of story telling and consequently most of the jury’s selection follows along this vein whether in the genre of drama or documentary. Not that this is altogether an issue, but to fully explore the ever expanding medium of the moving image we need to further research that realm of imagery that diverges from our notions of familiarity and comfort.

Several of the selected films depart from the norm in that their construction incorporates elements of digital animation, which contributes to a whole other area of expression. In Transhuman Dance Recital and Letter to Liza the human protagonists exist in a digitally manipulated world. The former as a disembodied head floating in a whimsical world of abstract design elements, whilst the latter portrays a digital rendering of the downtown streets of Toronto emphasizing and exaggerating the atmosphere of alienation that Liza experiences as a street person living rough, and already outside the norms of society. Of course digital manipulation of the image to create special effects has been around for a while and become a mainstay of the commercial film industry which has now carried over into the world of independent filmmaking due to the availability of cheaper and more accessible technology. This in itself presents a whole new realm of challenge and political assessment as the filmmaking artist consume and critique this density of contemporary media culture.

To present a more inclusive program of varying filmmaking genres I have selected two additional films from those submitted because they address other visual concerns in the filmmaking idiom. Both these films present an indeterminate narrative that emphasizes the abstract nature of film in its visual construction.
The first Death of Natural Language stood out from all the films submitted due to the method in which the imagery has been put together. The presentation of typewritten text acts much like the low definition reading of a poorly focused print depicting scenes of a blurry and ambiguous nature. This ingenuity of method gives play between the two dimensional world of text and the necessity to distil meaning, whilst simultaneously scanning the whole and discerning the three dimensional moving image. The ground between this dichotomy allows for a multitude of abstract readings, resplendent with comprehension and complete confusion.

The second film I chose for its stunning observation of the inherent beauty in the prosaic mechanics of daily chemistry. Awash seems to play with several definitions; Awash – as alternately covered and exposed by waves or flood. A Wash - as the daily ritual of domestic hygiene. This play on watery interpretations is the premise by which the filmmaker explores the full range of form, light and all its inherent seductive qualities. An unabashed indulgence in the sensuality of slow-motion, up close cinematography.



3:35 minutes (2005) Canada
Keesic Douglas
A young boy, after being tucked into bed by his mother, surreptitiously departs the house and gleefully tricycles off to the local park to partake in his passion of careening down the plastic playground slide. The child’s perspective, in all its innocent excitement, is contrasted to the parental perspective; the nightmare of the lost child! This becomes somewhat disquieting when the mother checks the child’s bedroom. The dilemma of a safe childhood verses untrammeled freedom.

Close and Low
4:30 minutes (2006) Canada
Jeff Winch
A man and his dog story. “Low to the ground and close to heaven” features the dog as metaphor, an ideological touch-stone on the issues of life, death, loneliness and love. This philosophic muse romps through this film with all the dog-graciousness that one would expect of the canine kindred spirit.

Journey My Heart
8:40 minutes (2007) Canada
Reil Munro
A documentary following the fitness regimen of a dedicated distance runner. She describes her daily running routine; pitfalls, expectations, discipline and fervour. Only slowly revealing the true intent to which she pursues her fitness regimen. The tenor of this documentary is to lead the viewer through the portal of effort and dedication in the personal pursuit of competitive performance. A specific cultural performance that only reveals itself in the closing moments of the film.

Letter to Liza
7:00 minutes (2006) Canada
Jason Brown
A graphic hybrid of animation and real life representation presents a narrative of a young woman pregnant and destitute in the lonely big city. The sermonizing letter from the father, absolving all responsibility leaves Liza desperate. A sad and somewhat melodramatic account that probably has a ring of truth for homeless youth in large urban centres.

Trans-human Dance
6:29 minutes (2007) Canada
Jeremy Bailey
A discombobulated delight as the disembodied head of the narrator bobs around in the digital world of graphic design. The ensuing pas de deux of bodiless head and graphic brilliance (accoutrements) defines itself in a performance of versatile absurdity, full of grace and wit.

Million Dollar Gamer
2:54 minutes (2006) Canada
Jim Munroe
A young woman dares to dream of participating in the male dominated world of video gaming. A game where foot manoeuvres (dance sequences) are the controlling device in competition with the machine. The boxing metaphor becomes immediately apparent as the crusty coach takes on his new protégé. A pastiche tribute to the formulaic Hollywood movie depicting the little guy as archetypal fighter overcoming all the odds.

Eggs Instead
2:32 minutes (2006) Canada
Lena Recollet
The morning gets off to a bad start, popping pills, ruminating death and the cosmetic nature of a corpse, an all pervasive tone of suicide. More pills and the frantic parental banging at the bathroom door. “Should have started with Eggs Instead,” she remarks as the final sardonic quip that mystifies rather than clarifies (or is that visa - versa)?

Wanda and Miles
12:55 minutes (2007) Canada
Lesley Loksi Chan
The transient life of a mother and son as they continuously move residence to avoid the demons that lurk in their past. The mother’s compulsive drawing of maps is an act of securing definition and destination. But these maps are the harbinger change that precipitates the need to move. This psychological strategy by which she navigates their way through the maze of life presents itself as neurotic and ultimately destructive. The suitcase that provides the metaphor of the shifting life, contains the future but also encompasses all that which holds the past (literally).

4:39 minutes (2008) Canada
Cheryl Pagurek
A nostalgic discourse on remembrance and time passed, juxtaposed with the clinical assessment of the body through the diagnostic discourse of a hospital nurse. Superimposed are images of the past and present, a life long lived and all the associative family ties. Dementia and withdrawal from the present to the significant reflective moments of past connections ensue. Flow is the timeless order of lives lived and lives expiring, wistful and inevitable.

10th Avatar
1:45 minutes (2007) Canada
Charuvi Agrawal
TV as the modern day demon, sucking the life sustaining forces from out the bodies and souls of our children. Unless of course the lens should turn and focus on me to be its particular celebrity and instantly shall I acquiesce to its seductive charm. An animated short that moves monstrously through a dense convergence of image and sound.

Red Like Meat
7:30 minutes (2006) Canada
Elizabeth Lazebnik
In bed awaiting his anniversary present (hints of the sexual), the husband peruses his wife’s magazine, where-upon he indulges a surrealistic carnal fantasy. The magazine that stimulates his erotic desire, is an essay of the photo based work of artist Janieta Eyre. The artist’s depictions of women presented in still life tableau are recreated and manipulated to further the lustful yearnings of the expectant husband.

The Occupant
3:30 minutes (2006) Canada
Elise Simard
An ephemeral animation, elusive as it floats through the universe just beyond reach, unanchored with no allegiance to place and time except the melancholic murmurings of things once been. Its charm lies in the very notion that gesture need not be explained nor accountable.

2:00 minutes (2007) Canada
Ken Gregory
A man flies his kite beside the sea. Uplifting and uneventful, the kite does what all kites do and does it well.

Wet Girl
2:10 minutes (2007) Canada
Divya Mehra
A young woman walks to the centre of a street and starts to sing a love song. Meanwhile a ferocious rainstorm lashes down and the few pedestrians brave enough to face the downpour seem oblivious to the performance and more intent on fending off the elements. We empathise with her wild act of bravura, her stamina and over the top theatricality. Could this be the prosaic version of Gene Kelly’s, “Singing in the Rain”. This simple premise creates a most compelling scenario that resonates as the most appropriate of audacious gestures.

Death of Natural Language
2:54 minutes (2007) Canada
Clint Enns
A laconic film, spare in its representation, where ghost like forms evoke hints of the familiar. An ingenuity of abstraction utilizing the graphic representation of type-written text to produce the iconic images associated with airplane travel. Augmented with the melancholic phrasing of solo guitar that culminates in a quiet discourse on the nature of ambiguity.

10:00 minutes (2007) Canada
Naoko Sasaki
Awash is an observation filtered through the slow moving seduction of light and form. The prosaic mechanics of daily chemistry are imbued with aesthetic tension as the filmmaker observes through close-up and slow motion photography the abstract beauty these actions behold.