Sending Off SXSW 2003

Film Reviews

EXPERIMENTAL SHORTS

D: Various. Out of death, birth. Coming just four days after the unexpected death of pioneering experimental filmmaker and avant-gardist Stan Brakhage, nothing is more apparent than that late cineaste's influence, especially in Stephan Knuesel's "Exercise," which uses a film (video?) loop to repeat effect, all set to Beethoven. Coming from the mainstream, it's easily apparent why Knuesel's film and Christine Khalafian's "Mark Set Burn" -- the only film we've seen this year that marries bikini waxing and Clive Barker-type internal/external horror -- set teeth on edge and eyes aflight. It's not just that their work conjures the spirit of Brakhage (it does) but that it sets a whole new, albeit brief, template for film. Austinite Eric Patrick's "ablution" -- a black-and-white, stop-motion take on, um, gentrification-- is another wonder, mixing local (un-)color with a character that endures an "archetypal cleansing." OK, I know, it's not the narrative you were looking for, but trust me -- the avant-garde is very much alive and well. ("ablution" won the Jury Award for Best Experimental Short.)

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