Directors Lounge 2008 • Berlin, february 7-17

Wednesday, February 13

I've watched you change

(JB) Tuesday's shows were packed with short films ranging from the experimental to the dramatic and the outright funny, so I'll just pick out a few in no particular order. Allan Brown's “Uncle Cluck” (2007) – which was already shown during the opening preview – might be described as a chicken tetsuo. Allan Brown is a member of the Canadian media arts collective volatile works and works under the nom de plume of Witkacy, after an well-known polish avant-garde painter & author of the early 20th century. There is indeed a hint of the whimsical but still utterly dark work of the polish artist in Brown's short film, which is essentially 5 minutes of altered 16mm footage of, yes, a chicken, with an off-camera monologue describing the ghastly transformation of a an avowed chicken-hater. While the tone of the monologue – something between Kafka and Roald Dahl – might suggest an aesthetic along the lines of a Tim Burton movie, it works really well with the deeply corrupted archival quality of the sound and images.

Another fun piece was Miguel Machado's “The Long Overtone”, a “cine poem in five parts.” While some parts were rather architectural studies, others were brightly coloured, abstract animations reminiscent of the work of early animation artists like Oskar Fischinger, set to a fine post-rock tune (which, in turn, reminded me of the virtually unknown but brilliant US band Paul Newman, if anyone cares). Interestingly, both the architectural footage and the animated parts blended seamlessly due to Machado's attention for dominance of the rectangular shape in, well, basically everything. In a similar way, the precise montage of the “silent” parts developed an own visual rhythm, which was reflected by the actual rhythms of the following, “orchestrated” pieces.

The Watcher - Bem Vigiado (trailer)

The Watcher – Bem Vigiado” (2007) by Santiago Dellape from Brazil came very close to being a “traditional” cinematic short; the story about homeless kids in a urban mall area might have been taken right from Italian neorealism, were it not for a indeed quite contemporary twist. In two scenes – filmed using a rotoscoping effect –, the figure of a writer enters the film, most possibly even defining the outcome of the story during a crucial moment. While the “watcher” from the title might fit one of the protagonists – a homeless boy taking care of shoppers' cars on a parking lot – on a first glance, it could just as well fit the author himself, who is nothing more but actually a spectator, and the happy ending of the film just an act of him re-writing the more obvious tragic outcome.

This much for now – JB