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The bag is back. Once again, the sack of videotapes has arrived, this time containing the “Eighth Annual Rosebud Film and Video Awards Nominee Showcase.”
This year’s outing has a fair representation of Baltimore-area artists, and many of the works themselves were made in other parts of the country. Former Rosebud winners and nominees have returned as well. Half of the entriesand two of the bestare by women. Whether craft is making a comeback or technology is making the means of production more accessible, this year’s entries are a uniformly confident lot. Due to deadlines, I was only able to watch 15 of the 20 works, but I’m going to go out on a limb and declare this the most cohesive Rosebud ever.
Of course, the Rosebuds wouldn’t be the Rosebuds without some claymation from the Lab School of Washington. I Believe I Can Fish! is worthy of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. The Saran Wrap river is very effective.
Another animation project is Maria Kyriacou and Scott Stillwagon’s The Audacity of Moon Advertising, which begins nicely by introducing the clay creatures with titles like “Chammy Liz Swarm as Bananaman.” Since it’s intended to be part of a series, I think I need to see some of the earlier chapters to fully grasp the story. Still, Chammy turned in a bravura performance.
Many might imagine that a visualization of a 12-year-old girl’s poem titled “Sadness” would be rather hard to take. Weti’s Poem by Lucy Gebre-Egziabher just might prove them wrong. Just.
Hail Skins by Silver Spring’s Alvaro C. Calabia reveals how beautiful the human voice is when you can’t understand a single word.
I did not watch Kirsten D’Andrea’s A Cultural Object: The Tampon.
I did watch the entire The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase by Joshua Oppenheimer. In this “exploration of the demons in our national psyche,” I found the interviews with various wackos and experts entirely convincing. Of what, I’m not entirely sure, but the self-proclaimed Antichrist was just banal enough to be plausible.
Detention is announced as “A Darryl LeMont Wharton Film,” normally the mark of high pretension. But I’m going to let Mr. Wharton have his possessory credit, because this African-American version of The Breakfast Club places more emphasis on uplift than on a trendy soundtrack and is an altogether impressive work.
I don’t get the whole “installation” thing, but I can still enjoy the results in my ignorant way. Serena Lin’s Visible Traces has been transferred to the small screen, but a brief glimpse at the end of the tape shows what the installed version looked like. It appears more intriguing than what has been confined to the tube.
David Coyne’s Speck is an extremely shaggy dog storyor, rather, shaggy cat storywith some good gags. Matt Kovalakides’ Abusive Parental Guidance Suggested is labeled as a mock PSA, but I’m not entirely sure. Judging from their languid short Entrepose, I’d say that Jason Hubert, Matt Pittroff, and Jeff Schmale have seen Eraserhead many, many times.
With Zealots From Hell, Betapunks Sean “Spikey Blue” Harris, Eddie Becker, and Deborah Rowe return to the scene after too long an absence. The “eco-yuppies” are very upset with the Promise Keepers, so they filmed some of last year’s rally. Interview footage has been interspersed with discussions by the filmmakers about how the interviews should be edited. At the end of the filming, a discussion by women who have just watched the result was filmed and edited into the final piece. So all the bases are covered. The women take the filmmakers to task and, indeed, the supposedly evil Promise Keepers come off in large part as far less dogmatic than the filmmakers. But I must say I’m quite impressed with the gal who painted “Fuck God” on her butt.
To my mind, the best of the show are Lydia Ann Douglas’ Nappy and Joanna Champagne’s May’s Stone. Shot in black-and-white, Nappy is a straightforward and affecting look at the not inconsequential subject of hair, from processes to dreadlocks. Women of varied ages discuss what they used to and still do go through just to walk out the door in the morning. Indeed, one woman reveals that after she decided to go natural, her mother worried that she had “lost her beauty.”
May’s Stone uses an e.e. cummings poem to connect D.W. Griffith with Champagne’s grandparents and the director’s love for film. Assembled in wonderfully unexpected ways, the images and soundtrack combine for a surprising and sweetly romantic effectnot unlike a rosebud.Dave Nuttycombe
The Eighth Annual Rosebud Film and Video Awards Nominee Showcase screens Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Video program 11 a.m.-2:20 p.m. and 3-6:20 p.m.; film program 11:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m and 3:15-6:15 p.m. Two complete shows each day, with in-and-out privileges. $7. The awards ceremony will be April 5 at the Bank nightclub. The winners showcase will be at the American Film Institute theater on April 25. Call (202) 797-9081 for information, or visit http://members.aol.com/rosebudwdc/.