The Ornament by Pat Dorian is a festive themed stop motion animation that's somewhat lacking in festive cheer.
The Ornament by Pat Dorian is a festive themed stop motion animation that's somewhat lacking in festive cheer.
Director Jamin Winans first feature Ink was one of last years film highlights, a brillantly shot modern fairytale, with a look that far exceeded it's budgetary constraints.
This new short film Uncle Jack was commissioned by Pentax cameras and as itlooks great, no doubt is a great showcase for their product. It's also a wonderful short film that will put a smile on your face, somebody should really throw some serious money at Winans and his team.
"Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" is a new web based series chronicling two down on the luck guys trying to make it in the world only to have that world throw up rejection at every turn. I suppose we've all been there at one point of our lives and this series aims to take a comedic look those times we'd rather be anyone but who we are at that moment.
Our first episode kicks off with Larry, a pizza delivery driver, who can't bare the stench of his own car from the daily deliveries he does. He tries, in futility, to wash away the smell of cheese, sausage and other pizza toppings that has driven him to hate pizza alltogether. His girfriend, Ruth, doesn't mind and we're not entirely sure if he's completey enamored with her or takes cold comfort in her companionship. He engages in at least one small act of rebellion and I'm sure we'll see more friction as future episodes roll on.
Burt is out of work and still pining for his former girlfriend by checking the status updates of her Facebook page. He's in hock trying to pay his rent and is constantly demeaned by one negative job interview after another. There seems to be no direction for him to go but down as he is a defeated man.
The series is the latest effort by Canadian film making duo, the Butler brothers. Their past work has always been about the common guy, his struggles for some sort of redemption in a cookie cutter world where he doesn't quite fit in, and the eternal struggle of men trying to figure out the minds of women. Chase this down with some good beer and you get where these two filmmakers are about. ""Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" plays on these themes once more and smatters on some funny pop culture references. All of it provides us with a very entertaining first episode.
Overall I really enjoyed the first series entry and the plan is to have a new episode debut each month. I have followed these two filmmakers with their earlier entries like "Bums" and have found that they've come a long way and I have no doubt they will keep getting better and better. When I caught "Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" I felt two things: I was glad they were still going at it and I was happy that they were becoming better filmmakers by still going at it. Moreover, I am relieved that there are good guys out there who understand the plight of the average Joe and make it their point to create something around it. No, I wasn't happy to see the characters miserable but I felt glad someone out there understands it.
Youtube is inundated with the inane and forgettable but ""Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" is a bright spot in an over saturated webisode market. We need the voices of filmmakers like Jason and Brett Butler not to feel bad about being down and out, but to look at it and laugh. So for that I give them a high five, cold beer and a thumbs up.
"Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" debut episode is streaming now on Youtube so go check it out and give your next pizza delivery guy a good tip. They're people too.
Richard Gale's epic comedy horror short has picked up and slew of awards and been viewed around 1.5 million times on YouTube so far.
I bookmarked this short (Born That Way) from director Tony McNeal some time ago with the intention of posting it and then promptly forgot. Which is a shame because it's really is a very cool and very well put together. Anyway I've remembered now and you really should take a few minutes to check it out.
"When ex-con and hard-as-nails, Jake Green, finally gets a chance to see his daughter after six months, he takes her out for a quick bite only to wind up in the middle of an armoured car heist. The violent incident leaves a lasting impression on his daughter and influences her choice to pursue a dangerous and lucrative career later in life."
Born That Way stars Stars Kevin Gage (Waingro from Michael Mann's "Heat") who fits the role pretty perfectly.
"A mysterious DJ is sent to a city block to mend a series of chain reactions that occur in our everyday lives."
Taglined "Two Turntables and a Time Machine", Spin, from 2005, is a short film by director Jamin Winans. The director's latest film, the full length Modern fairytale Ink, hit stores and Bittorent sites this month. Even though Spin has had millions of views across the internet and the trailers for Ink looked fantastic, distributors passed on the film, no doubt fearing that although independent, the film does not fit into the indie box. At first Jamin and crew where pissed, but then had to face the truth that without the downloads and the word of mouth they will produce people just wouldn't have known about Ink. Word of mouth is now turning the film into a serious cult smash and a genuine one unlike Paranormal Activity's carefully managed marketing campaign. After the film being downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, the people behind the movie have come to a conclusion about the current industry model. Rather than aiding distribution it actually severely limits the audience for many films. (Goodbye Gatekeepers, Hello Audience.)
If you have watched and liked Ink, I figure you should probably pop over to their site and donate a few dollars. After all, without a distributor all the money you give is going to the filmmakers. So you really don't have the "I'm not giving money to the unimaginative Hollywood machine" excuse. If you really love it you can also but the DVD or Blu-ray.
Whether or not Ink makes a great deal of money remains to be seen, as "The Gatekeepers" do still hold the key to lucrative moneymaking avenues and large marketing budgets. But Ink, like The Man From Earth before it, shows audiences have an appetite for films outside the formula when they get a chance to see them.
One would hope we are slowly moving away from region codes, different world wide release dates, overpriced discs, DRM and the myriad of reasons that make people think "fuck all that I'll just download it, it's easier and quicker". If we don't and the industry really believes you can fix things with laws rather than adaptation there's real problems ahead and by then it may not be fixable at all.
"Tony is fixated with drills of all shapes and sizes. As we follow him on his search for drills to add to his ever-increasing collection, we slowly unwrap the logic behind this strange and amusing obsession."
A Bit On The Side stars Dean Taylor and is directed by Swansea (that's in Wales) based filmaker Steve Sullivan. During 2007 and 2008 Steve produced Ken Russel's (The Devils, The Lair of the White Worm) Boudica Bites Back which you can read about over at timesonline.co.uk.
You can check out more of Steve's shorts over at his website www.stevesullivan.co.uk
Biff Juggernaught productions presents The Voice Inside, a black and white short film for fans of the slightly more extreme. The Voice Inside is a kinetic short following one characters battle with and final decent into madness. The film opens with an unnamed man sat on a subway train, at first all seems normal, but soon we learn just why the film is called The Voice Inside.
The main and only role is played by Elias who you can see in a very different role as the hapless reporter in LovecraCked! The Movie. This is a good turn from Elias as well, as we see him tormented by an inner voice. He at first tries to suppress it with medication, but is told it is now to strong to be held at bay. After returning home from the subway, he again tries his medication, but only finds himself vomiting heavily. Next he goes for blunt force trauma as a means to fight the voice in his head. Head butting walls and pushing himself with the Iron rings from the stove. He manages to smash his face up pretty good, but the inner voice will not be silenced. Finally he is defeated and now the voice has its turn at desecrating the leads body, which means we are treated to a very nasty use of a hammer.
The Voice Inside is an impressive short film that will have many drawing comparisons to Darren Aronofsky' PI and Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo, all be it not reaching the heights either of those full length outings achieve. The medium it was shot on does mean the picture is not the best, but in many way's it suits the films content. The Biff Juggernaught team manage to mix shock value with real skills, understanding that shock on it's own is in no way enough. The effects, both practical and camera trickery are fairly low level and not overdone, but are used to full effect. Normally I am not a huge fan of "shaky cam", but here the camera work is suited to the subject matter and defiantly adds to the quality of the short.
The Voice Inside is a short well worth watching, but be warned, its graphic nature is maybe suited only to those more used to extreme film.
Biff Juggernauts "The Voice Inside" is available as an extra on the LovecraCked! The Movie DVD
To celebrate Halloween, we've collected together a selection of horror themed short films.
The French Doors ... a dark DIY tale from New Zealand, written and directed by Steve Ayson.
Chainsaw Maid ... A faithful maid takes on flesh munching zombies in Takena's claymation masterpiece.
Forklift Driver Klaus ... Stefan Prehn and Jorg Wagne show u why health and safety regulations really should be followed
Cornucopia ...Paul Couvela takes us on a vist to a very strange pub indeed.
Toxic ...In Andrew McEwan's short an unusual evil has arisen, requiring equally unusual hero's to defeat it.
The Cat With Hands ... the story of a cat who, legend has it, longs to become human.
What They Ate ...In this animated short conceived and created by Nadia Moss a most unsettling meal is consumed.
Insanophenia ...Two dim-witted exterminators face a truly horrific stop motion terror, in Steven Kostanski's short film.
Hell ...An nightmarish experimental stop motion vista from David Firth, Jimi Mwng and Crusty Crayfields.
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello ...A disgraced aerial navigator flees his Plague-ridden home on a desperate voyage to redeem himself.
Greed ...has consequences
2002 Short film detailing a dark DIY tale from New Zealand, written and directed by Steve Ayson.
MrDisgusting posted this over at bloody-disgusting.com and its really is a very cool bit of claymation. From youtube user 'takena' comes this excellent claymation short about a faithful maid and flesh munching zombies.
You can check out takena's website Here
German short film from 2000 by Stefan Prehn and Jorg Wagner spoofing instructional videos.
Paul Couvela' Cornucopia like Toxic is another great stop motion short that was featured on Fourmations (Showcase for animation on UK Channel 4) back in the 90's.Paul Couvela has since spent his time working on the hit UK animation for younger children Bob the Builder amongst other things
I first saw Toxic back in the 90's on Fourmations (Showcase for animation on UK Channel 4) and its quite possibly my favourite animated short ever. Andrew McEwan won a BAFTA for Best Animated Film for it back in 1991 and although he has gone on to work in Film and television mostly as Second Unit Director or Assistant Director he sadly does not seem to have made another animated film.
Music by: Simon Desorgher
Shame there's not a better quality version floating around.
Written, directed and animated by Robert Morgan, The Cat With Hands is a multi-award-winning, 4-minute short from 2001. The project forms part of London-based Animus Film's output and was funded by Channel 4.
This film is "the story of a cat who, legend has it, longs to become human," but, based on a recurring nightmare from his sister's youth as it is, and being the product of creative mind with a certain interest in the macabre, this is about as far away from a cute kitty tale as you can get.
A devilishly dark delight well-rooted in the tradition of fairytales. Enjoy!
Automatic Vaudeville Studios short animated film What They Ate.
Two dim-witted exterminators are about to find there are more disturbing things than the sexual advances of their maniacal supervisor as they descend into a nightmarish world of indescribable terror.
"Set in a world of iron dirigibles and steam powered computers, this gothic horror mystery tells the story of Jasper Morello, a disgraced aerial navigator who flees his Plague-ridden home on a desperate voyage to redeem himself."
It was a pleasant surprise to see Anthony Lucas' BAFTA and Oscar nominated short film "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello" appear online over at Quiet Earth. This was a favorite of Fiona's when we attended the KinoFilm festival a couple of years ago and it really is a superb film.
Greed is an animated short by Alli Sadegiani. Done as final assignment at AnimationMentor. Finished and rendered after the graduation in June 2008.
Amanda Crawford stars in director Adam Wingard's (Pop Skull, Home Sick) short film Cerebella. The short Forms part two of the directors "Forgot My Meds" trilogy, though the first and second centre around a different lead charter. The film follows young woman's journey into the realms of sleep deprivation. Cerebella has a lovely dreamy, not quite surreal feel. Some snatches of really quite beautiful cinematography and skilful editing make it a joy to watch.
A lighthouse keeper finds himself awakened from his slumber and is forced to face off against a giant light loving insect.
Le phare AKA The Lighthouse or The Lighthouse keeper is a short animated film produced by Gobelins students David Francois, Rony Hotin, Jérémie Moreau, Baptiste Rogron, Gaëlle Thierry and Maïlys Vallade.
In the spirit of Tron Legacy and Gamer comes Jarrett Lee Conaway's Turbo. A short film that combines the the feel good charm of the classic The Karate Kid with near future science fiction. It tells the story of Hugo Park (Justin Chon, Twilight) a misspent youth whose only outlet for angst is a 4D fighting videogame called “Super Turbo Arena”. When Pharaoh King (Jocko Sims, Crash the Series), the Michael Jordan of cyber-sports, announces a tournament to determine who will join his pro-team, Hugo sets his eyes on the prize. But, Hugo isn't the only gamer who wants fame and glory. If Hugo wants to win he's going to have to beat Shamus (David Lehre, Epic Movie), the all time Turbo champ at the local Pandemonium arcade, and Ruse Kapri, a feisty prep girl that knows how to win. Realizing he can't win on his skill alone, Hugo turns to his brother Tobias a former kick-boxer whose last match left him wheel-chair ridden. Together the two will mend old wounds and see if a washed up street fighter can teach a troubled teen how to become a virtual gladiator!
OK it's a little cheesy and I kept expecting Mortal Kombat's Robin Shou to pop up somewhere, but it's feel good fun and very impressive for a student film. It's certainly not a bad calling card for Jarrett as he chases the Hollywood dream.
The short features the work of:
Ryan Sluman - Puppet & Animation - ryansluman.com
Joon Kim - Concepts & Storyboards - chickenwithbroccoli.blogspot.com
Danny Dahlquist - Cleanup, SFX & Original Music
Mike McCain - Environments & Effects - mikebot.net
There's also a rather cool little trailer for the short.
If you like this you should check out Stephane Coedel's A Kiss From Tokyo" Theatrical trailer
Voltage is Short animated film from Brazilian animation studio Bam.
"Just like modular synthesizers, people connect with each other in order to achieve diverse objectives. In Voltage, robots, half-human and half-synthesizer, powered by a huge amount of energy, connect to each other in an electric and chaotic trance."
Mister Cok is the owner of a large bomb factory. Looking for efficiency and profit, he decides to replace his workers by sophisticated robots. The formers stare helplessly at the toil of the robotic labourers. But one of the workers does not accept being discarded so easily ... Find out more www.monsieurcok.com
Luke Randall's Reach is the short tale of a tiny robot is given the gift of life with only one limitation, the length of his power cable. Apart from lovely animation, the sound design for the short is rather impressive to.
In this short by Joaquin Baldwin "A voodoo doll must find the courage to save his friends from being pinned to death."
"Dr. Mori, a Japanese psychologist, is selling his brand new, Hi-Tech, revolutionary, completely automatic, state of the art "harakiri-kit" for the whole family!"
"When an ant appears on the factory belt, a worker's life changes forever."
A Worker is making aerosol cans on a Tayloresque factory floor.
The routine of his job is wrecked when an ant crawls into his machine. The game of cat and mouse, fueled by paranoia and hatred, begins and ultimately ends with the destruction of the machine that provides the Worker's livelihood.
The ant, feeling guilty, tries to help reconstruct the machine. From this moment, the Worker begins to realise that there is more to being human than his life to that point has lead him to believe.
Set in what appears to be a totalitarian, socialist, industrial retro-future; Aerosol is a very visually appealing short film. The set design is very reminiscent of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's The City of Lost Children as well as later features such as Ernie Barbarash's horror sequel Cube Zero. Fusing with this increasingly popular but still very appealing future-retro styling is a very fitting sonic backdrop with the machine and worker creating / contributing to the music, think similar to the scene Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi with the workers in the field.
Although the film feels a little like a high quality television advert or music video at times, I guess as a result of the limited screen time, it does manage to be fun and thought provoking. Although maybe not as deep as it thinks it is; a worker in a repetitive job feels animosity towards an ant and then finds an understanding and a common ground. You would have to be pretty unintelligent not to see the allegory, still its delightful in its simplicity, sometimes we miss the obvious because it's all around us and things like this can be a wake up call and a reminder.
The CGI ant while strikingly cute against the films Industrial background is a very effective and emotive character, who will bring out a warm fuzzy feeling in all but the most hardened viewer.
Wojciech Wawrzyniak and his team have created a great short, if you get the chance to catch it, make sure you do it’s a delightful little film.
To find out more visit Ozzywood Films Website.
Running time 10 mins (Short / Fantasy)
You can watch Wojciech Wawrzyniak's short film Aerosol at switch.tv (though the quality is not great, hopefully it will appear on Vimeo)
d-nice.com is the online home of Derrick Jones better known as D-Nice of seminal rap crew Boogie Down Productions with KRS-One and the late DJ Scott La Rock.
Expanding into visual mediums D-Nice has carved out a niche for himself as a talented Photographer and filmmaker. The highlight of d-nice.com has to be his series of short films featuring "Golden Era" Hip Hop artists "True Hip-Hop Stories". Sadat X of Brand Nubian, Dana Dane and Doitall of Lords Of The Underground are amogst those featured so far.
You can also check out D-Nice's obligatory profile at MySpace
This animated short by Run Wrake was my top pick from the Kino Film Festival 2006 and, like one of my recent short film picks, Pencil Face, is a dark tale to be careful what you wish for. Enjoy!
It's time for part 2 in the sometimes series that I like to call Lists here at late Film, with today's rather titularly self-explanatory list coming luke warm off the heels of Fi's Fave Films! - An Alternative List. Back when late night TV was great here in the UK, I would avidly watch short films from the random showings on Channel 4 (some, such as Alison De Vere's The Black Dog, were regulars) to less random collections on Shooting Gallery. For as long as I've loved film, I've loved short film, for there is something so powerful and emotive in these short few minutes. Yes indeed, I loves me a short film, and here is my pick of top 5 fave's...
1. The Tale Of The Rat That Wrote (Billy O'Brien, 1999)
Anyone who knows me will tell you I just simply adore rodents, so it's probably unsurprising, then, that my favorite short would feature a rat. Any rat owners out there will also tell you that rats are extremely loving, intelligent creatures and this 14-minute UK/Ireland short explores this. As the title suggests, this is one rather creative rat which can both draw and write and uses the unusual powers invested within it to help out its ratty friends. Black & white and largely silent, this tale of ratty retribution is gorgeous on the visual front as well as the story.
Available to view as an extra on the DVD of Billy O'Brien's feature-length film Isolation.
2. Forklift Driver Klaus ( Stefan Prehn and Jorg Wagner, 2000)
This German instructional video spoof is a glorious 9 minutes of comedy/horror caper. Featuring the hapless Klaus (Konstantin Graudus,) we get involved in his unfortunate shenanigans as he pays little attention to his safety rules on the first day of his new job. Needless to say, much comedy carnage ensues and all set to a lovely bit of muzak. An absolute must for short film fans into the comedy/horror genre.
Watch it here.
3. The French Doors (Steve Ayson, 2002)
This 13-minute New Zealand short was a late night on Channel 4 fave and among my dear collection on crappy, taped VHS. But, no matter, for this little flick is an absolute corker. Barnie Duncan plays an unnamed man doing a spot of home renovation and installs the titular doors. So far so nice and fine and sunny, but before long things take a turn for the darker in more ways than one. Genuinely a very neat and unnerving film.
Watch it here.
4. Talk (Lukas Moodysson, 1997)
I caught this 14-minute Swedish short as an extra on the Lukas Moodysson boxset after watching Show Me Love, and it was love at first sight. Birger (Sten Ljunggren) is out of work and out of company until a Hare Krishna recruitment girl calls at his door. This film appeals to me as, if I ever made a short, apart from a wish to make a creature feature or horror film, I would most likely make a study of loneliness, and that is in essence what Talk is. It's pretty harrowing stuff and rather devestatingly darker than you might expect, but all the more beautiful for it.
Available to view as an extra on the Lukas Moodysson boxset DVD with the superb Show Me Love and Together.
5. Pencil Face (Dandy Dwarves, 2008)
This cheeky little number just snuck in to my top 5 fave short films not 2 days ago for its rather deliciously dark and strange ways. Quite literally featuring a large pencil with a face, this is a stunningly surreal warning to be careful what you greedily wish for...
Watch it here.
Rarely have I been so enamoured by a short film that it promptly asceneds to the lofty heights of My Favourite Shorts. But, such was the case with Dandy Dwarves' Pencil Face. So who are Dandy Dawrves and what is Pencil Face? The Double D's are "a multidisciplinary production company formed in 2006," or core group of various creative types, and Pencil Face is, well, Pencil Face. Literally featuring a large pencil with a face, this 3.22-minute short is so deliciously dark and surreal that it is a rare treat to be consumed with relish. But, you'd better see for yourselves...
Frieze Film 2008: Road Movie is a four-part film created by artists and film-makers that was produced on YouTube. An experiment in film-making, the final result was a film made in an entirely new way: the first multi-authored fractal film assembled by the artists and curator out of the sum of the submitted parts.
Inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel The Road, the project used the road as a leitmotif for a non-linear journey through the post-apocalyptic landscape.
The final product debuted on Channel 4 on 13th October and is the rather apocalyptic "state of the world" vid set to Fuck Buttons' Ribs Out, which you can see at the top here. The short above - Memories Of Falling Ash - is a superbly neat little submission for the project by DeadShed Productions aka Nick Thomson. Dark in more ways than one, this interesting take on the road movie genre is lavishly atmospheric and promising work indeed.
Read more about this filmmaker and the film here.
Catch more about the Frieze Film 2008 project here.
In the "visual essay" Feast Of Titans (edited version for Internet) Alejandro Jodorowsky's contemporary Fernando Arrabal (I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse) speaks about mythology, politics and art, searching for the ways of the modern man through the theater and scientific development.
We Heart Stuff, posted a feature on this short film directed by Nicolas Randall and Joe Stevens which played at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film which may be set to become a feature length documentary looks at a group of Trinidadian kids in New York, who are combining the sound-system / bass culture of their homeland with bicycles.
Last summer in a cramped, rented garage on the outskirts of Queens, NY something incredible was happening. Nicholas Ragbir, an imaginative tinkerer from Trinidad was working late into the nights creating something nobody had ever seen: enormously powerful stereo PA systems jerry rigged onto ordinary bmx bikes. It wasn’t long before Nick assembled a small crew of like-minded riders. Traveling together, each behind the handlebars of his or her own massive homemade creation, they treat the neighborhood to an outrageous impromptu music and dance party on wheels.
Once upon a time over 14% (The 1920's) of US farmers where black, now its well under 1%. Documentary maker David Snider follows photographer John Ficara as he takes images for his "American Black Farmer Project.
"They only lend you enough money to get in touble, they know it, they loan you the money to fail, you know" ... Willie Adams (farmer)
Short animation by Joel Green
Alive In Joburg is a short documentary style Sci-Fi film by Neill Blomkam, the South African aspiring director and FX guy behind the dancing robot Citroen commercial. Neil was rumoured to be penciled in to direct the Halo movie, but with that ground to a halt his first full length movie it set to be District 9 (Which appears to be based on Alive In Joburg).
This 1983, 34-minute short film comes from director Robert Harmon, on the strength of which he was given the task of helming his next project, 1986's road movie thriller The Hitcher. Harmon's first directorial project, China Lake, was intended to showcase his talents as a director, the field he hoped to move to from still and motion picture photographer. Shot over 11 days in 1981, the film experienced extended post-production, which gave rise to the two year delay in release. The finished product, viewed as an extra on The Hitcher DVD, clearly shows why he got picked up for the feature-length project.
Charles Napier, the recognisably-faced and guttural-voiced star of many an American series, plays Donnelly, a friendly-faced highway cop with an unusual vacation pastime. Ever the dedicated worker, Donnelly dons his uniform and mounts his motorcycle ready to patrol the dusty desert roads for anything untoward, even on his China Lake break. The only thing untoward out there on the road, though, is Donnelly himself, whose actions in the line of duty incorporate a rather sinister aspect.
The build-up to The Hitcher is evident here, similarly shades of Spielberg's TV movie extraordinaire, Duel, are also apparent. Harmon works well the classic premise of authority gone to pot as the figure of abiding law calmly and quietly goes off the rails. Napier is perfectly cast as the lone and apparently sane figure who is anything but, and Harmon's direction is knowingly confident for a first-time effort. The cinematography makes good use of the oppressively barren surroundings, and shots of the physically impressive Napier exercising out in the desert undersore just what this film's about. At 34 minutes, this is a perfectly-formed mini-movie which uses to full effect the always frightening idea of carefully controlled lunacy, particularly in an authority figure. Beth Tate, who co-wrote with Harmon, went on to produce a TV movie, The China Lake Murders, based on this film in 1990 which sounds like it may well be worth hunting down for some more of Donnelly's dastardly doings.
Buy It: amazon.co.uk (China Lake appears as an extra on the region 2 Special Edition DVD of the Hitcher released by Momentum Pictures)
Un Chant d 'amour (song Of Love) is the only film by homosexual French writer Jean Genet. The film which was made in 1950 is just 26 minutes long, shot in black and white and completely silent. Originally made for Parisian gay porn collectors the film only had one public showing in Paris when it was first completed. In the 60's Jonas Mekas smuggled the print into US with a little bit of help from playright Harold Pinter. Mekas showed the film in New York which resulted in his arrest and one of the big censorship cases of the 1960's. Cult Epics have now released this film with a new transfer and in it's complete form for the first time on widley available DVD in North America.
Un chant d 'amour is set in a prison and revolves around three characters, two of whom are incarcerated prisoners and the third a prison warder. Trapped, repressed and lonely the prisoners long for each other with their desires becoming very auto erotic. As they relive themselves in the only way they can, the ever watchful warder becomes drawn to their pent up passions. It's soon clear that his routine peeps are much less about security checks, than they are about sexual voyeurism. The film has no real narrative as such and has been likened to a visual representation of a poem, which I think is about an accurate description as you can get.
Genet himself had spent some time in prison during his youth and combined with his own sexual persuasion it's obviously subject matter he could relate to. Being straight myself the erotic elements are lost on me, but I can appreciate it as pure filmmaking. the film was filmed to be silent and is presented here without any form of audio track, not even the period cinema organ track that normally accompany modern presentations of silent film. I must admit that I found the complete lack of audio oddly stressful, as a modern viewer (in my case at least) your brain is so used to audio accompanying visuals that you feel stressed waiting for sounds that never come. Visually the films blend of confined sexual reality and flights of sexual fantasy play off each other like poetic chorus and verse. The black and white lends itself naturally to a noir look Genet uses the contrast and shadows well. The film is semi pornographic in that it does featuring snippets of male masturbation, but the majority of the films eroticism is subjective both director and through symbolism. In fact because of its silence and lack of narrative it would be fair to argue that it is symbolism that drives the piece.
Those involved were not actors by profession, but they do a brilliant job of conveying sexual frustration and love from behind a wall. There are moments in this which will probably have all but the most liberal straight male feeling slightly uncomfortable as a hairy man runs his hands over sweaty chest and feels his genitals. Or the handsome almost archetypal attractive gay man prisoner next door fondles his penis while covered in glistening oil. There's also fantasies of muscley fellows stroking each others bodies which took things just a little too camp for me, but that's a minor concern and at the end of the day the target audience was gay men all be it that the film was so well made it's appeal spread to fans of artist film gay and straight alike. If you can handle watching homoerotic imagery and let's face it political correctness aside it's not something everyone is comfortable with then this is arguably a striking and important bit of film making.
The DVD includes and optional introduction by Jonas Mekas which is interesting and well worth listening to. As is the commentary by filmmaker Kenneth Anger. Both give insight into the films place in history, its production and some of its meaning. The second disc features a 52 minute documentary on Genet and a 46 minute interview with him.
The transfer is maybe not as impressive as I would have liked. There is still visible print damage and it does suffer with artifacing (pixilation) at times. It’s a bit of a shame because I'm sure there is a certain amount of contrast lost which would add to the films beauty. How ever I imagine this is a pretty specialist item and there seems to have only ever been one print certainly not many more than a couple anyway, so Cult Epics have done a pretty good job with the available materials.
This is maybe not a film for the fan boys out there, but those with an interest in Gay and Lesbian cinema, particularly from a more restricted time like the 1950's will want to put this in their collection. Certainly fans of Jean Genet will be pleased with the extras here and as someone who knew very little about him going into this they really did make the DVD worthwhile. I can't say for sure because of my own orientation, but I get the feeling this film may well still work as erotica for those who don't require out and out porn. Those who are interested in the pure aesthetics of filmmaking will also have good reason to own this as it’s a master class visual symbolism on film and though the lack of sound stressed me in a way it does mean you really take time to ingest and dissect the visual experience in your mind.
Buy it: amazon.com
Trailer for the animated short 'The Windmill Boy' from director Dan Richards.
The Windmill Boy’ is a fantasy adventure, which tells the tale of a boy kept prisoner in a windmill by an evil horde, until one day a storm gives him the inspiration for escape. The story has been influenced by the style and themes of productions like Jim Henson’s ‘The Storyteller’ and ‘The Dark Crystal’ and animations like ‘Trapdoor’. (synopsis from stopmotionpro.com)
The film took 18 months to produce and was made on a very small budget. The film has been made as a piolt for a 28 minute special, which is currently being written.
I loved stuff like The Storyteller, The dark Crystal and really loved Trapdoor back in the day, so this really appeals to me.
Blood Tea And Red String is a handmade stop-motion fairy tale for adults.
Thirteen years in the making, Christiane Cegavske’s dialogue free film tells the tale of the struggle between the aristocratic White Mice and the rustic Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak over the doll of their heart’s desire.
The Mice commission the Oak Dwellers to create a beautiful doll for them. When she is complete, the Creatures fall in love with her and refuse to give her up. Resorting to thievery the Mice abscond with her in the middle of the night.
Meet fantastical creatures and view dazzling scenery as the Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak journey through this mystical land to reclaim their love. See the mice descend into debauchery as they become drunk on blood tea! See what happens when the Oak Dwellers eat the yellow fruit!
A heart rending musical score that was composed and performed by Mark Growden accompanies this disturbing and wondrous adventure.
The film tells the story of Emo and Proog, two people with different visions of the surreal world in which they live. Viewers are taken on a journey through that world, full of strange mechanical birds, stunning technological vistas and machinery that seems to have a life of its own.
‘Elephants Dream’ is the result of almost a year of work, a project initiated and coordinated by the Blender Foundation. Six people from the Blender user/development community were selected to come over to Amsterdam to work together on an animated short movie, utilizing Open Source tools only.
You can download the entire short film for free HERE
Above: Trailer for A Message from Outer Space
Frits, a lonesome, unworldly astronomer, is in pursuit of extraterrestrial life in order to find the true friendship, he cannot not find on earth.
When one day an egg falls on his head, his lonely existence fills up with hope. Convinced of the fact that there is an extraterrestrial creature inside the egg, he decides to incubate it.
Roel Mondelaers and Raf Reyntjens A Message from Outer Space was my other favourite from the kinofilm festivals Kino Fantasy selection of short films. With a running time of just 10 minutes A Message from Outer Space is a beautiful looking well shot and well scored piece set to a very fitting down tempo electronic score. The set design and the look match those of many full length high quality productions. Frits played by Matthias Schoenaerts gives a cool performance relying heavily on facial expressions as this is a one man piece (Well there is the egg and a robot).
The robot is very well made and Fiona who I watched the film with felt very sorry for the little fellow when he fell off the table.
While incubating the egg, Frits is visited by a large flock of geese that smash through the windows of his laboratory and the shot / effects is quite simply amazing.
I don't want to give away much as it's only a short, but the hatching of the eggs inhabitant leads to a genuinely laugh out loud funny moment which had the festival audience all chuckling.
I don’t know how or where you would get to see this other than a festival screening somewhere (Maybe iTunes), but if you get a chance make sure you do its 10 minutes well spent.
Running time 10 mins (Short / Fantasy/ Sci-Fi)
Kisses which carries the tagline "Love hurts. Bad.", is a short film by writer / director Dominic Travero and cinematotographer / editor Vincent Anton Obriskie. Their production base is split between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Bologna, Italy (At least that's what their website say's). The short film is indeed very short with a running time just under three minutes. It's little difficult to review this one as it really depends on one twist midway for it's impact and while I am pretty sure most of you will never come across the film, it still seems a shame to spoil it. For me this works well as a "calling card" type short, i.e. to showcase the skills of those involved rather than as something anyone would seek out. Although the subject matter will attract a certain audience who enjoy very unorthodox sex and gore cinema. I can't really say I am one of those people, that stuff does very little for me, but each to their own.
The film has some interesting shots, but it also suffers from something which plagues most digital shot stuff. I.e. a camera follows something around, for this short that thing is mainly the lead actors head. In my opinion if you only allow yourself 3 minutes for a short you really need to cram something more inventive in when it comes to camera work. Sure there are some cool practical effects towards the end, but it was nothing ground breaking. I think they just got a bit to reliant on their "twist" and really something this short could have done with a lot more stylisation, at least that's the way I see it. That said for what it is, it’s professionally done and if its primary purpose is to showcase some of the production companies skills it does a reasonable job. The score suits what they where trying to achieve well. I guess it could do Ok in short film competitions and might make an interesting edition to a DVD anthology of short film, but in and of itself there's not really anything above and beyond many of the films you can see on triggerstreet.com, Myspace, dovetail.tv, Veoh and others.
I forget now where the DVD was sent to me from, but it must be either the US or Italy I guess. That makes me wonder why they bothered, something of this nature would be far better off showcased online either on their site or one of the video streaming sites I mentioned above. Certainly that's the best way to create a buzz for a short of this nature and maybe gain a following. I did look for it online, but it does not seem available, which is a shame as I would have linked to it so you could judge it for yourselves.
A Wicked Tale is a 45 minute independent film written and directed by award winning filmmaker Tzang Merwyn Tong (e'Tzaintes, 2003). The experimental thriller can be described as a psycho-erotic re-imagination of the Little Red Riding Hood story. It relates a little girl's fascination with the forbidden and deals with the theme of seduction and manipulation.
Tickets were sold out when A Wicked Tale made its World Premiere at the 34th International Film Festival Rotterdam. The movie has since won the Gold Remi Award at the 2005 Houston WorldFest. It was also a surprise hit at the 2005 Montreal FanTasia Film Festival.
That Swedish guy's acting seems (If you will pardon my language) f**king terrible, but the little string puppets look pretty "wicked".