September 10, 2004

RESFEST Opening Night & To The Hills Screening

It's a good thing to find geeky friends. At least for the Cinecultist anyhow, because occasionally lovely e-mails come down the pike such as the one from Jonathan Wells, the RESFEST festival director, a week or so ago offering to put us on the list plus a guest for the festival's opening night at the TriBeCa Performing Arts Center and then one must find someone who wants to come along. That's where Matty aka Capn Design comes in. He likes movies. He brings leftover cupcakes. And he gets super excited about the demonstration of a Canon XL2 as we wander around the promotions booths before the screening begins. This is the kind of plus one who really appreciates a digital media festival.

Turns out we weren't the only bloggers invited to attend, those Low Culture guys, JP and Matt plus the lovely Chloe were also there. We had a bit of a "who has the free swag connections" off, and though CC had a festival program and JP did not, that's only because they were sitting on the check in table. As for the shorts, Program #1 of a series of three plus music videos, political shorts and a retrospective to director Jonathan Glazer that are playing all this weekend, they were all of pretty high quality. Some more artsy for artsy sake than would be our taste, but all quite entertaining.

The whole audience was invited to cast a ballot for our favorite at the end of the program, so Cinecultist did have to choose one we liked the most of the 10 shown. Though it was a tough decision between Jason Wishnow's Oedipus (animated Greek fable using vegetables to play the various roles) and Talmage Cooley's Pol Pot's Birthday, we went with the depiction of the Khmer Rouge throwing an office party for their despot. Not to give too much away but Pol gets a golden retriever puppy and he forces his petrified retinue to eat some very grey cake. Then, they sing "Happy Birthday."

Tickets for individual events cost $9 and they run through this Sunday, Sept. 12 at 199 Chambers Street. CC's going to catch the Videos That Rock program, and there's also a VJ Event/Closing Night Party w/EBN & Hexstatic at the Canal Room that sounds fun. You'll also be able to purchase DVDs of the programs on the RES magazine site we imagine, as they've made past years available. The festival continues its tour across the country through the Fall, more info is available at their website,

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Director Fritz Donnelly is a born salesman. That's evident even without seeing the charming footage of him working a card table in SoHo last year selling his DVDs to the passerby. He put 24 of his shorts onto a disc, had them nicely packaged and sold them on the street and via his website To The Hills like some neo door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. In his tiny sublet studio space nearly under the BQE in Williamsburg on Friday night, we watched some footage from that disc plus some new shorts not yet released. Fritz is the kind of artist who doesn't seem to censor himself, what appears on the screen comes across as a direct connection to his brain. Thus his desperate shut-in characters, influences from bloody video games, manic indie rocker videos and mechanized '80s cartoons all seem to go together, beneath the wacky umbrella "things from Fritz's brain."

Though we don't plan to take up permanent residence there, anywhere populated by Fritz-isms sure can be a fun place to visit. Plus, with attendance comes cheap cold English beer and the suggestion of a spaghetti dinner extended to the 25 or so viewing attendees camped out on the folding chairs or squatting on the floor, so you know he's extremely hospitable, if nothing else.

The moral of these two evenings? Ah, it's good to be on The List. Cinecultist likes it there.

Posted by karen at September 10, 2004 2:23 PM