Screening: Brian Liloia in the Stockstock Film Festival

Brian Liloia’s film “Sí, Se Puede!” (JSF, Vol. 4) is playing now in the Stockstock Film Festival. In this festival, filmmakers download several hours of stock footage and edit it down to a 2-min. film. The semi-finalists have been announced, and the winner will be announced in March. All of the films are available on the festival’s website.

The films make for some fun comparative viewing. Brian’s film, seen HERE, is a patriotic celebration of the true Amerikuh. Other favorites, upon a quick survey, include “VD Is for Everyone,” which is a helpful PSA, and “Murder Me Now,” which is a well-timed noirish piece.

On Super Bowl Ads and the Avant Garde

At our recent screening, when the publisher was up front making a point about short film being 100 years old, someone in the audience said something like, “and now they’re TV commercials.” Sadly, she’s right. Somehow short film went from being the avant garde to a tool of advertising, without most of us getting to see any of it.

The recent slate of Super Bowl ads gives us occasion to consider this disaster. The publisher said he couldn’t be bothered on this topic; he pelted us with gruyere and said he was busy planning next year’s Davos forum (after this year’s topic, “Shaping the Global Agenda: The Shifting Power Equation,” they will be more clear next year with, “Does Anyone Else Miss the ‘80s?: All Zimbabwe Needs Is a Good Loan”). But most of us watched the game and a lot of TV ads, in general. While this year’s Super Bowl ads were less creative than in recent years—and we also think the NYT is crazy for reading Iraq-related feelings into the inanity (see HERE)—it is still undeniable that advertisers have adopted many of the lessons of experimental film from the last 50 years into their product.

Just like short stories have been a place for creativity and experimentation in literature since their beginning, short film has often led cinema down new audio-visual roads. The big difference, of course, is that everyone got to read short stories almost right away. Nobody locked them up and only let writers and MFA students read them. But short film, despite being over 100 years old, has remained marginalized and obscure. Directors and film students are well versed in the form—indeed most of them have made short films—but somehow the general public has been kept in the dark.

But back to advertising. Lamentably, advertisers have not been so deprived. They’ve kept up and were quick to adopt any new a-v trick that might grab one’s attention and lead one to buy, say, Sprite.

Historically, before an art form is fully coopted and used as a tool for selling crap, it usually passes through a phase of popularity. Rock music is an easy example. It went from being cool, to being popular, whereby it was then used to peddle Ford Mustangs. But at least people got to hear the music. (Then we had the 1970s. And, after the ’73 oil embargo, we didn’t even have real Mustangs, anymore.)

There is really no way to remedy this. But we can do our best to promote short film and start to reclaim it for the general public. Art should give the public new ways to think about the world, not just advertisers.

press release: JSF’s Volume 6; Oscar news; Australian film

for immediate release

The Journal of Short Film releases Volume 6 (Winter 2007)

Columbus, OH (February 6, 2007) The Journal of Short Film released Volume 6 (Winter 2007) today. The JSF is a quarterly DVD publication of exceptional, peer-reviewed short films. Volume 6 contains the JSF’s first films from Australia. To date, the JSF has published 61 filmmakers from 8 countries.

The staff of the Journal is very excited about Volume 6 but also wants to share its Oscar news: a film that appeared in Volume 4 (Summer 2006)—Borja Cobeaga’s “Éramos Pocos (One Too Many)”—was just nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

The Journal welcomed Sam Green as a guest editor on Volume 6. Sam was a noted short film maker before making the feature documentary “The Weather Underground,” which was nominated for an Academy Award. Sam has helped to fulfill the Journal’s mission of supporting diversity, experimentation, and independent work.

Volume 6 also introduces a new DVD feature: the video contributor notes. In these notes, the audience gets a personal introduction to the filmmakers. Following is a list of the films in Volume 6:

1. WE’RE GOING TO THE ZOO – Josh Safdie (2006, 14:40) Driving to the zoo, a young woman and her little brother pick up an unconventional hitchhiker. 2. ALICE SEES THE LIGHT – Ariana Gerstein (2006, 6:20) In an ultra-bright world, there’s more to vision than meets the eye. 3. THE SASKATCHEWAN TRILOGY, PART I – Brian Stockton (2002, 5:40) An eccentric portrait of the filmmaker’s first year of life in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. 4. FIRST LADIES – Natalie Frigo (2006, 1:30) In FIRST LADIES, the focus of news footage is altered, addressing alternate histories disregarded due to implicit cultural structures. 5. LUCKY – Nash Edgerton (2005, 4:25) Lucky finds himself in a bind, and he’ll need to pull off more than a Houdini act to escape. 6. RUMSFELD RULES – Bryan Boyce (2006, 2:45) Donald Rumsfeld speaks the crazy poetic truth. 7. CARMICHAEL & SHANE – Rob Carlton and Alex Weinress (2006, 5:30) A single father has a unique approach to raising his twins . . . choose a favourite. 8. INTERSTATE, PART I – Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin (2006, 6:00) Night surveillance of circus elephants and zebras in circadian rhythm, seen through waves of traffic from a Texas interstate highway. 9. DON’T READ NOW, PART I – Michael Saul (2006, 5:20) A common warning in the art of passing notes. Secret love letters disguise our true intentions. 10. REMOTE COMMOTION – Catherine Galasso (2006, 4:00) An erotic diary of transatlantic yearning made intimate through an uncanny and frenzied collage of facial expressions. 11. THE TOUCH – Vanessa Woods (2005, 3:00) An experimental animation of an Anne Sexton poem that examines melodies within spoken, written, and visual language.

Contact: Karl Mechem, publisher, The Journal of Short Film,