The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Monday, November 04, 2002
MICROCINEFEST 2002: Baltimore's
MicroCineFest, held at the G-Spot this past weekend, is an annual showcase for ultra-low-budget film and video with a psychotronic edge. This year, alas, I made it to just one screening, but it was a good one: the Saturday night collection of 19 "experimiscellaneous" shorts.

I can't say that the program was entirely free of underground-film clichés or that every movie they showed was worth watching. But most of them had merit, and some of them were excellent; only one came close to violating my Screensaver Rule. ("In order to be taken seriously, an experimental film must show more craft, and be less predictable, than a screensaver.") I attribute this high batting average to the MicroCineFest's admirable aesthetic: They like films that challenge audiences, but not ones that ignore them.

Some highlights:

* Infomercial Aesthetics: My favorite film of the evening, directed by Daniel Martinico. From the program notes: "Built entirely from the eerie debris of late night television advertising, this piece takes multiple fragments from a week's worth of infomercials and pushes them together into a desperate video remix." Pointed, hilarious, and disturbingly catchy.

* Composition in Red & Yellow: My girlfriend's favorite film of the evening, directed by Roger Beebe. A Super 8 tribute to McDonald's, in road-film format, presented to the tune of "Hands Across America." Funny stuff, though I still can't forgive Beebe for getting that awful song stuck in my head for the next two days.

* Kinetic Sandwich: The crowd's favorite, from local filmmaker Eric Dyer. I'm sick of quoting the program notes, so I'll quote the Baltimore City Paper instead: "...rips the lid off the standard American midday meal, one layer at a time. The result makes visual poetry out of the same-old, same-old white bread, lettuce, tomato, and lunch meat. As Dyer's camera burrows through the ingredients, it catches folds of iceberg curling and unfurling with dancelike grace. Seedy tomato interiors come alive and writhe while Swiss cheese bubbles like a pot of boiling pea soup. In the less-than-three-minute video's most memorable sequence, Dyer even makes olive loaf sing."

* To Hug You and Squeeze You: Wago Kreider's short is a cinematic cut-up, splicing animal footage into a home movie of a wedding, while the audio track mixes two stories of -- to quote the program notes again -- "the doomed marriage of a Hollywood starlet and an African prince." It may sound like a dry formalist experiment, but it was actually one of the most compelling films of the night.

* Kerry May: Here's a rarity for you: an avant-garde feminist film with a sense of humor. And I mean actual wit, not just self-congratulatory jokebots. Made with considerable craft by one Christina Vantzos, on a very low budget of just $7.

I could spend time dissecting the films I liked the least, too, but for now, I prefer to praise.

posted by Jesse 11:33 PM
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