SXSW 08 Film Reviews

Experimental Shorts

D: Various

Always an underappreciated jewel, the Experimental Shorts collection again proves a heady mix of worry and whimsy. Thomas Helman's "df/dx" fills the bleakest stretch of the spectrum with dark washes of distortion obscuring his figures' intentions. Gavin Heffernan's "Grand Wheel" intercuts sweeping scenes of war protests and amusement rides, making the viewer re-evaluate his or her priorities. Mining Grand Guignol guffaws was Catherine Chalmers' "Safari," where an unflinching HD camera captures a largely insect ecosystem. Flies struggle in spiderwebs, only to get their heads excavated moments later – but in goosing the grotesque, Chalmers accentuates the absurdity. Nicholas Tayler's "Kupe and the Whale" uses an indecipherable Kiwi narrator to further the mystery and conspiracy surrounding its mythic money markets, only to explode in fractal bliss. Tipper Newton's twee "The Timebox Twins" uses garage pop and Gondry-style not-so-special effects to tell an interdimensional afterschool special. And with alternately expressionistic and accelerated camerawork reminiscent of Wong Kar-Wai and Derek Jarman, "Upwards March" depicts a young girl's escape into a strange and wonderful carnival, set to an affecting score from Arcade Fire tourmates (and director Kaveh Nabatian's band) the Bell Orchestre.

Thursday, March 13, 9pm, Dobie; Saturday, March 15, 1:30pm, Dobie

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Experimental Shorts, df / dx, Grand Wheel, Safari, Kupe and the Whale, The Timebox Twins, Upwards March

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