The Long and the Short of It

The expansive Cinematexas short film festival

Far more than just a film festival, Cinematexas has expanded over the years into a cross-genre mélange of film, music, conceptual art, photography, dance, political protest, visual projection, and various permutations thereof. The unifying thread of these events, most of which are grouped into a quartet of festival "sidebars," is that each work provokes, questions, or otherwise intellectually stimulates in unconventional ways.

The flagship of the Cinematexas sidebars, and to some, of the entire festival, is the always tasty Eye + Ear music/performance series. After reeling in Thurston Moore and Jim O'Rourke for a rare live collaboration in 1999, Eye + Ear last year coaxed a U.S. performance out of Japanese extreme-noise sculptor Merzbow. This year, the sound may be more conventional, but the oblique, distinctly European social outlook and cross-genre stylings of Amsterdam's agitprop socialists the Ex should make for a memorable show Saturday night at the Mercury. Opening will be local crooked rockers Rhythm of Black Lines and Denton dub squad Sub Oslo, who will perform an all-electronic set.

The Ex has continually thought outside the box over the course of their career, leading to several side projects of an experimental or improvisational nature, including a much-heralded collaboration with Tortoise. Now guitarist Andy Moor applies his clanking, rhythmic style to a different arena. In a rare collision of rock and dance, on both Friday and Saturday Moor and fellow Amsterdam resident Katerina Batsaki will perform "an amplified improvisation of sound and body," featuring the emotive Japanese Butoh style of dance. Rounding out the Eye + Ear bill are conceptual filmmaker/artist Miranda July's "live movie" The Swan Tool and a pair of performances from DJ Lithops, the solo project of Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner, a superstar in the world of Intelligent Dance Music (IDM).

For the filmies, the confrontational Terra Cognita moving installation set offers cosmopolitan, avant-garde projectionism, cut-and-paste filmmaking, and photographic manipulation from artists from as far away as Ireland and Germany. Leslie Thornton, a veteran of the experimental video art circuit, will present "The 10,000 Hills of Language" in a glass pavilion off I-35. Anne Bray and Molly Cleator's "Double Burning Jagged Extremities" projects doctored images of female deaths taken from feature films and projects them onto three 15-foot inflating and deflating female figures. Harun Faroki, whose work was recently featured at New York's Modern Museum of Art, and local projection legend Luke Savisky will be performing as well.

The fledgling Cinemakids program returns for a second year, just to show that it's never too early to start a film career, not to mention an artistic validation of the unique perspective of the under-18 crowd. The sidebar, designed specifically for kids, includes screenings of short films by kids and for kids, and workshops as well.

The final sidebar series, Parallax View: the Political Economy of Images, is a more message-specific, eclectic group of pointed presentations, emceed by Craig Baldwin, maker of the brilliant sci-fi radio-drama/mutant conspiracy theory flick Spectres of the Spectrum. Mark Holser of subliminal-irony kings Negativland tops the bill, as he offers up a reprise of last year's bizarrely disorienting Stubb's show, which lent copyright law about as much respect as a fetid urinal cake.

Eye + Ear: The Ex with Sub Oslo and Rhythm of Black Lines play Saturday, Sept. 15, 10pm, at the Mercury. Body Weather, Monday, Sept. 17, 6pm, at the Ancient Gallery. Miranda July and DJ Lithops perform Thursday, Sept. 20, 9:45pm, at the Center for Mexican-American Cultural Arts. DJ Zac Love, DJ Lithops, and Array Gun play Saturday, Sept. 22, 11pm, at the Blue Theater.

Terra Cognita: Anne Bray and Molly Cleator's "Double Burning Jagged Extremities" screens Friday, Sept. 14, 6-9pm, at the Ancient Gallery; Leslie Thornton's installation "10,000 Hills of Language" screens Monday, Sept. 17, 8-11pm, at Fire Henry's on Riverside. See schedule for more Terra Cognita events.

Cinemakids will screen programs Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 15-16, noon, at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex. Workshops follow both days from 1 to 4pm. A screening of films made in the workshops will be held Saturday, Sept. 12, 10am, at the Hideout. A panel on Youth Media follows at 11am.

Parallax View runs throughout the festival, with long programs held Friday-Sunday, Sept. 21-23, at the Center for Mexican American Cultural Arts.

See Cinematexas schedule, p.46 for venue addresses and more details.

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