Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cake, Plastic Costumes and PBR. Oh Yeah, and Movies, Too.

Yes, I know it's Tuesday. And I probably should have posted this earlier, but so it goes.

This past Friday Miss L and I attended the 5th Annual College Film and Video Bake Off, hosted by the Creative Alliance at the Patterson in downtown Baltimore. The festival was a juried event, with all the short films done by college students local to Baltimore. Along with the films, the admission charge got you a slice of cake shaped like a film tin and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The PBR was handed out by a woman done up in a fabulous anime-like outfit of plastic and cloth. Although I'm not positive, I'm pretty sure we we're the only ones in attendance who didn't make a film or at least know someone who did. A couple of people asked which film was ours, and we had to admit that, sadly, we we're merely spectators.

The films themselves ran the whole spectrum. You had your action stories, your sweet vignettes, your comedies, and your parodies. Abstract art films made a showing as well one documentary, and even a film of a camera being dragged behind a car to the point of total, filmic descruction. Most were live action, but a few were animated.

The comedies/parodies got the best reception overall from both the audience and the awards from the judges. The big winner was Christian Coalition Against Queer Zombies (CCAQZ) by Nick Miller, taking in a judge award and a second award based purely on audience votes. It's a fun 5 minute parody of both 50's horror movies and over-the-top health/advice films like Reefer Madness. Presented as a documentary narrated by a tragically southern Sherriff, we watch as three teens spend an average day frolicking through a cemetery. They, of course, meet a small group of gay zombies who don't want to eat their brains but instead force them into...oh what's the best way to say this...homosexual activities. In the end (pun intended if you see the film) the teens decide the zombies and their ways really aren't so bad.

Two others received judge awards. From the Professor's Private Vault: We Are the Friends of Fun by Neil Van Gorder is a quasi-surrealist quest for the funny bone by way of caged monkeys, destroyed Barbie Dolls, and an imprisoned Oscar Wilde. Kevin Walla's Poof, a minimal story about two men waiting in limbo for their judgement in the afterlife, won the third prize.

Interestingly, the three more abstract pieces all came from Maryland Institute College of Art students. My favorite actually came from these. Christina Carbone's Empathy is a provocaitve series of images and music representing different viewpoints of rave culture. Dropping ecstacy, sexual laisons in public bathrooms, and of course dancing made up most of the content. Based solely on technique, Empathy was the most ambitious and probably the most successful of the festival. Carbone used a split screen, showing multiple images at once. This worked really well to give a sense of the frenetic energy that's so much a part of raves. Shot for shot, I was really captivated by the flashing visuals, colors and angles she used. The film ends with a short sequence of coming down; we see a negative image of night sky, brought on possibly by drugs or possibly by the end of the wild emotions experienced throughout the night. Sadly, I think I was probably the only person in the audience who voted for the piece. It's lack of narrative and untraditional structure probably made it a little less acessible than most of the other pieces, but it hit me in just the right way. It might have connected to me because of my misspent youth.

Anyway, it was a fun night. I highly suggest going next year if you have the chance.

In a complete tangent, I heard the new Nine Inch Nails single on the radio today. Not greatly inspiring, but not bad. I might spend my lunch hour today at a listening station at the music store down the street. Can't help being curious.



Jen said...

Was that your first visit to the Patterson? I love it! Gives me a chance to dine at Matthews, the pizza joint across the stree, a lot, too. The Maryland film festival is coming up soon as well--I've been living under a rock lately and need to check out the listings.

You know you're old when your former rock idols elicit such ennui. I heard the new Sleater-Kinney album a few days ago and find myself a little more excited than I thought I was going to be--does that mean I'm still young, still hip, hot, now?

Miss L said...

I'm a member of the Creative Alliance and sometimes go to their Saturday morning live model drawing sessions (though I haven't been in months). First took him to CA to see Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey's Valentine Day extravaganza. Much fun. I even broke Passover early to munch on the Charm City Cakes (carbs taste even better after a week of matzah!). Oh yes, Matthews Pizza!!! I will definitely have to take Mr. H there as well. On special occasions at work, we've ordered pizza from them. Also superbly delicious.

Notice that he does not make a single mention of the movie I voted for! Fort Keith was probably the longest short at 12 mins and okay, okay, probably the most traditional as well. Keith is a young boy, who enlists his sister and friend in a faux militia at their play fort. When a stereotyped band of rednecks come after the fort with fiery torches, they and their cousin let loose a spud-shooter on them. Well shot, well written, and well, a nice frolic back into childhood. (Even though my childhood did not find me pretending to be in the military...)

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Wow, sounds really interesting. Can I ask why it was called Empathy?

As for the night itself -- Pabst Blue Ribbon and not Natty Boh? Somehow I'm shocked.

It sounds like you guys always get out and do really cool things...

Oh, and I haven't had a chance to listen to the new NIN yet, although iTunes had an ad saying Trent Reznor's still angry -- well thank God. ;) when does the whole album come out? I have to admit I'm excited.

Hebdomeros said...

Miss L answered Jen's questions for me. I like the C.A. It's a cool space, and they do fun programs. Wish they hosted readings, too, but they can't do everything!

I didn't forget about Fort Keith..I just didn't have the space to talk about everything. Actually, all the films were pretty good. I'm not sure exactly why it was called Empathy. I kept wanting to call it Ecstasy when I wrote this post.

Wow. I haven't thought of Sleater Kinney in years. Good fun, though. Do they sound similar, or did they go another direction?

The NIN album supposedly came out today. I went to a Borders, but they hadn't gotten it in yet. Perhaps tomorrow. Amazon has samples up, though.

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Actually, I downloaded the new NIN album last night. I listened to it today but at work, at low volumes, so I can't really give a thorough review until I listen to it another time. My very first impression was "eh," but again, I think I need a few more listens when I can actually hear it.

I also downloaded (previously, I don't even remember when, I've been downloading crazy since I got the iPod) a live album, which had selections from Pretty Hate Machine, Downward Spiral and The Fragile, and that was really good. But, good is sometimes all about the familiar. ;)

I don't know why but the word Empathy as a title always makes me think of a really cool Pigface song.