Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Media City makes Windsor truly world class

I attended the Regional program of last week’s 22nd annual edition of the Media City film festival. It’s important that the public knows that this is not just a film festival but a festival of “digital art.” Hence the type of films screened, which are far from mainstream and more of what some might describe as experimental or art. That by no means lessens their importance and indeed the festival is internationally acclaimed, attracting filmmakers and jury members from around the world. While few other events do, Media City indeed makes Windsor world class…….Here are my faves from the 12 films screened. Lullaby Optic by Detroit’s Steve Wood, at eight minutes, was a kaleidoscope of revolving colours, almost as if a black hole was dispensing energy fragments. Moreover, shards of multicolour lights moved singly or in groups across the screen. It was all scored to “electronic” sounds or what’s known as circuit bending music, performed, yes, on circuit boards. And NASA’s archival sound lent well to what I’ve described as a black hole!....My next favourite was London resident Charlie Egleston’s 23-minute Watch Tower in seven parts. Set in the hills of Mexico the film is a studied look from different angles of a transmission tower and its sometimes-flashing beacon (at night). While we hardly see any people we hear them and other sounds, including music, of a Mexican village. It all creates an eerie or dislocated feeling. Are we being watched? Despite bucolic scenery and happy voices do they matter to the omnipresent anti-human tower? .....Notable also was Windsorite’s Alana Bartol’s six-minute A Woman Walking (the City Limits), North of The Bow (river in Calgary), which traced the line where rural meets urban, identified with swaying fields backing on to suburban tracts and wind catching manufactured detritus on barbed wire. The starkness is right in front of us, folks…..Other films, not just here but in the following International Program 2 (of which there were six over three days; opening night featured the films of Yoko Ono), and of other films of the kind I’ve seen over the years, descended too often into clichés of the genre - abstracted-amoebic like forms, for example, moving to industrial or atonal sounds. There’s nothing wrong with that if your message is compelling (as was Lullaby Optic) but I longed for more breakout themes: character portraits, mind games, elliptical narratives. 

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