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November 20, 2008

My SDFF - Some Short Thoughts on Some Short Films

There are several programs of short films presented at the SDFF. I chose two of the programs based on past interests - "Faux Movements . . . and other excursions" to get a glimpse of the current state of so-called experimental filmmaking, and "Fear & Dystopia" in order to see something by local legend Ronnie Cramer. The problem with short films is sometimes they aren't short enough.

not enough night.jpg

The two best films in "Faux Movement" are personal looks into geography and icons of the past, two Jacks, Kennedy and Kerouac. Not enough Light uses the words of Kerouac from On the Road against shots taken in and around Denver, particularly a crumbling gas station that has attained landmark status. Some of the places mentioned in On the Road were still in existence when I read the book forty years ago, and went to a couple of the coffee houses with my hippie friends. Now, Kerouac's relationship to Denver seems more tangential and anecdotal. Don't ask me to be the objective observer here - I went to the same high school as Neal Cassady.

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The Spot is the X on the pavement where John Kennedy was assassinated. Alexandre Philippe contrasts footage of contemporary Dallas with excepts of Kennedy's recorded speeches. We see tourists, some reverential, some not. Among the more ominous graffiti are the words, "Don't tell" and "George Bush did it". The Spot is more timely in understanding why members of the Kennedy family supported Obama. Kennedy talks about politics and poetry, "politics corrupts, poetry cleanses". Also with the recent news about threats against Obama, and the quick forgetting about the outrage about a fictional film about the murder of George W. Bush, The Spot could serve as a catalyst regarding the perception of history and the real deaths of presidents.


"Fear & Dystopia" consists of short films by local filmmakers. The two that I enjoyed were The Clearing by Jack Gastelbondo, and Mugs by Ronnie Cramer. Mugs is simply the morphing of mug shots of the (in)famous - Larry King, Johnny Cash, Mel Gibson, Jane Fonda, among others. Some appear to be happy, while others look worse for wear. The film is five minutes of fun at the expense of people who sometimes behaved very badly.

the clearing.jpg

The Clearing is the most dystopian tale of a future where people have memory chips implanted that require updating. A man temporarily escapes from his dark, cluttered apartment to discover what his late wife had written on the back of a photograph. Jack Gastelbondo wrote, directed and scored his short film. It's a slight story done right in terms of pacing of the action and dialogue. Checking out the website, Gastelbondo and his compadres will hopefully be heard from more decisively in the future.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 20, 2008 12:28 AM