Digital Film Festival Screens Global Visions

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The short film Africa @ Play takes an amusing look at African children who make their own toys from recycled garbage.

"We wanted to change people's perception of Africa," said Scott Braman, co-director of the film. "People only hear negative things about Africa—war, famine, disease—but here are these creative kids who show that you don't need the latest gear to be happy."

In Moko: Art of Nature, meanwhile, first-time filmmaker Serena Stevenson follows a native Maori man as he undergoes the tatooing ritual of Ta Moko Kanohi.

"There is almost no contemporary record of this practice," Stevenson said in a telephone interview from New Zealand, where she lives. "Moko is about understanding your identity and lineage, it's about making a connection with your ancestors and nature."

The Other Final

The rest of the lineup features some more unconventional, non-linear short films that often combine live-action with animation and graphic design.

"These films capture the emotional experience of traveling as well as the physical experience," said Holly Willis, the editor of Resfest magazine and one of the festival's organizers.

The effects-laden and borderline hallucinatory Ananda, created by Vinton Studios in Portland, Oregon, is described as "Salvador Dali meets Bollywood in a surreal fantasy of a man wandering his own bleak industrial mind."

The favorite among the festival organizers is Yangshuo. Set in a farming village in China, it uses shadows and spreading ink over 16-millimeter film to create a scene saturated with color.

But the program's highlight is the 53-minute-long The Other Final, a hilarious and heart-warming documentary about a soccer match between the two lowest ranked national teams in the world—the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and the Caribbean island of Montserrat—which was played on the same day as last year's World Cup final in Japan between Brazil and Germany.

The film follows the Montserrat players as they travel from their volcanic island—"Hot, Hot, Hot" is their national theme song—to Bhutan for the big game.

It's a story about how sports can bring cultures together, a message perhaps best summed up by one of Bhutan's government officials: "Sports is not about rivalry and battle. It is about promoting understanding and friendship."

Johan Kramer, the film's Dutch director, said abiding interests in football and Buddhism inspired his film. "When these two subjects bumped into each other, I felt that this was the chance to make a feature length film, something I looked forward to after directing commercials and shorts for such a long time," he said. "Now, I can't wait to shoot the next longer film."

Filmmaking Inspiration

Organizers say the chief ambition of Resfest is to inspire new filmmakers. Apple, one of the festival's sponsors, is giving free film editing classes during Resfest.

"The great thing about digital filmmaking is that it's affordable to own your own equipment," said John Turk, the festival's technical director. "You can get a camera and go out and tell your story."

New technology is enabling filmmakers to venture into new territories.

"The new equipment is light and easy to handle," said Turk. "The physical advantages of digital filmmaking end up impacting creative decisions, and new styles are created."

Said Wells, the festival director: "Artists keep pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. We've received films made with tools and technology that were not even designed for filmmaking."

Twexus-1 is a moving sequence of 10,000 still images that commercial director Andreas Wacker took in Los Angeles, where he works, and his rural home town of Selsingen, Germany. Running at a frenetic 30 images per second, the film is a statement about the ubiquity of images in modern society.

"The creation of an image has changed," said Wacker. "When you had to paint an image 200 years ago, it was a precious, single event. Now, with digital photography, the individual image is only data … and very cheap to store. This has changed the rule of the image—and had an effect on how art is done."

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