Festivals often have films that are outside my normal comfort zone. I may just skip over those sections with experimental styles of filmmaking. Slamdance has some groups of films that fit this category, including sections of Experimental Shorts, DIG (Digital, Interactive, and Gaming), and The Department of Anarchy. I decided to dip my toe into these sections to look for a few that might interest me.
“The Department of Anarchy”
Life. (4 seconds directed by Mohammad Mohammadian). Yes, that’s right, a four second film. How much depth can there be in that short a period? Well, you’re spending more time reading this review than the length of the film. Obviously, the theme is the brevity of life. And it makes that point clearly.
Bare Bones. (10 minutes, directed by Meryem Lahlou). This is a computer animated film with voice over that reflects on the pendulum of life and death. It creates a surreal world that leads us to nihilistic existential contemplation.
ASMR for White Liberals.(3 minutes, directed by John Connor Hammond). A black man softly says the kinds of things that will calm white liberals. As a white liberal myself, I understand that these are thing I think I would want to hear, but there is moral judgement to be found in that.
Everything You Need to Know about Pierogi. (4 minutes, directed by John Phillips). What starts off as a rather boring celebration of the Polish dumpling suddenly takes a very strange turn into fulfilling life’s purpose.
Peter the Penguin. (10 minutes, directed by Andrew Rutter). Nigel is about to meet his girlfriend’s daughter for the first time. The stuffed toy he’s brought really isn’t good enough. When they get to the house, the child is in a panic because her stuffed penguin has been hurt. The ensuing drama takes a very dark turn for Nigel.
“DIG: Digital, Interactive & Gaming”
The Long Fall. (4 minutes, directed by Cade Mirabitur). Computer animation using a gaming engine. The interior of a house, with manikin-esque people. The house falls and tumbles into a bottomless pit.
24,483 Dreams of Death. (15 minutes, directed by Chris Peters). This project uses two separate Artificial Intelligences. The first AI watched a movie several times and then creates the visual world it perceives. Over this visual are the words of another AI that had been trained with millions of lines of poetry that creates its idea of poetry. The result is an eerie visual poetry.
To Die in the Valley I Love. (12 minutes, directed by Koryn Wicks). This film calls itself “a movement meditation on horror movies”. With a computer-generated text about horror films, a dancer responds to the text.
Morning Sickness in the USA. (3 minutes, directed by Christine Brache). The filmmaker shares her grandmother’s story of coming to the US from Puerto Rico and being placed in a mental hospital when she went to a doctor for inexplicable nausea. The assumptions based on ethnicity point to problems in the system.
Rumi and His Roses (6 minutes, directed by Navid Sinaki). A gay Iranian man tells the story of the smuggling of love poems in bootleg DVD menus in his first relationship.
The Gospel According to Them. (11 minutes, directed by Bury Leod). A collection of various clips focusing of faith, but also black British experience. The clips are all in small inserts on the screen which created a distance that, for me, was off-putting.
Photos courtesy of Slamdance Film Festival