For the seventh time, the duffel bag o’ tapes arrives, containing the 21 home-grown productions in this year’s Rosebud Film and Video Awards Showcase. There are some familiar names, familiar themes, and pleasant surprises. There are fewer documentaries than in the past, but a portentous trend is the number of filmmakers with a local connection who are obviously using the festival as a résumé-builder. These include two $12,000 Columbia grad-school projects. Mark Millhone’s Christmas in New York is slick in a New York way, or perhaps New York in a slick way, and Annette Apitz’s Alaska was filmed in Connecticut. K. Wise’s Compositions is a $20,000 production also shot in N.Y.C. by way of the Sundance Institute.
On the other hand, Brian P. Harty kept his large $90,000 budget here, filming Edge, his feature-length tale of Gulf War post-traumatic stress, largely in the Northern Virginia woods.
But it doesn’t get more D.C.-entric than Da Way It Is, Theodore R. Smith’s expertly shot slice-of-too-real-life collaboration with Adams Morgan teens. Likewise, Farzin A. Illich follows up his 1992 examination of the ’91 Cinco de Mayo disturbance with In Washington’s Backyard: Roots of a Rebellion. Meanwhile, scenester Jonathan Spottiswoode and Sam Serafy’s The Gentleman is an elegantly filmed look at a stereotypically Washington gathering of the chattering class.
There is less of the sort of experimental fare that Rosebud champions, but the nonlinear is represented. Palindrome: Adam & Eve is described as a “textural tapestry,” and I won’t disagree. One Plus One Equals Two from Winter Taekun Ahn is not as obvious as that equation, while Serena Lin’s Outside/Inside nicely melds filmed and computer-generated imagery.
Proving that even hard-core film semioticians have a sense of humor, James Schneider’s The Staticose Chamber is a droll mock informational video about a band of lab-coated technicians at the Monadic Institute who are concerned about the “disturbing array of images” we are subject to and who are working to “reverse the detrimental effects of cinematic and televisual abuse.” We can only hope they persevere in their work.
This year’s most photogenic entry, at least as far as stills are concerned, is Zoltan Szallasi’s Thoughts in the Cellar (pictured), a wistful rat’s eye rumination. And would any festival be complete without Claymation? Kids at the Capital Children’s Museum Media Arts Department produced the comedy Spare Change.
There are still more films than can be mentioned here, but I would like to think that I have seen animation’s bright future after witnessing what the computing power of the Imaging Research Center at UMBC generated in Alan Price’s Tota Pet. It is as creatively satisfying as it is technically dazzling, and its five minutes are worth the price of admission.Dave Nuttycombe
All 21 films screen from noon-6 p.m. Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23 at Cineplex Odeon Foundry, M Street at Thomas Jefferson St. NW. The Award Ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 6 at Club Zei. The five winning films will be shown at 2:30 p.m. April 26 at the AFI theater. For information call (202) 797-9081 or check the web site at http://members.aol.com/rosebudwdc/.