After this, what I intend to do in some future posts is to offer some brief reviews of the films I saw, because every one of them was remarkable.
Here's Roger Ebert's review.
Thursday (Day One of the Festival) was a great day too. Sunshine, a mini-blizzard in Ashland (Jim Teece's photos on YouTube give some idea what it looked like - they were saying "Sundance revisited"):
And then clear driving to the airport to pick up Peggy; she'd flown on the same flight with a tired-looking Harry Shearer, who was delayed in getting here by plane, on account of the crazy mountain weather (he described the experience with understandable exasperation on his podcast later). Then there was a serious hail storm on the way back to Ashland (scary driving)-- more crazy weather --and finally we got to our first official event, A Conversation with Harry Shearer, at the Armory. (Photo from Shawn Levy's blog.)
|Harry Shearer accepting his Rogue Award at AIFF.|
Connected: An Autoblogography of Love, Death, and Technology (also sometimes subtitled A Declaration of Interdependence). It was paired with a short documentary, Orbis Minor. That was an inspired pairing; kudos to the programmer. Connected is an interesting personal film with global intentions, exploring the filmmaker's (Tiffany Shlain) relationship with her father, who seems to have been a great one, and what she learned from him about brain science and Life, as two life-altering events struck in the midst of her work making another, less personal documentary about global technological connectedness and the promise it offers. Very entertaining, humorous, touching, and interesting.
Orbis Minor is a 15-minute film by Zach Kienitz, a Montana film school student. It takes a very different view of technological connectedness (or what it means when technology changes how people relate to their world and to each other). Through a series of long takes, from an unmoving camera set in several different places, it effectively makes the point that while we are caught up in our minds--minds affected by the technology we use so much of the time--the natural world is still very real and moves at its own pace.
The young filmmaker of Orbis Minor was there for an interesting Q&A, and gave me some further food for thought. He asked how long people thought the first shot had gone on, and the answers (after a waggish "one hour," which got a laugh - it did at first seem to last practically forever, just a shot of river water going by) ranged from one to five minutes. I was the one who said five minutes. He said it was only (I think) one minute long, actually. And said that when they showed the film to different age groups, the older people (the age of the audience members who stuck around for the Q&A - Boomers, mostly, like me) tended to be on the "one minute" end of the scale, while the younger audience, say 18-22 year olds, tended to be at the other end, thinking five minutes or more. I remarked that I'd thought it was five minutes and I'm old, but added, "It was just that after Connected, with all those quick cuts, this was an adjustment. But I liked it once I got the idea what was going on."
He said Connected (at somewhere under 90 minutes) had probably 2,000 shots and his film (at about 15 minutes), just eight (I think these were the numbers) of those very long takes. During which, in voice overs, several people from different generations mused about how they felt about the present culture of technological connectedness. This juxtaposition of their thinking and the inescapable visual of the natural world, there on the big screen in front of you and refusing to act like high-speed Internet, creates a very meditative and ultimately thought provoking effect on the viewer. A remarkable short film, I thought.
The other thing I remember about the Q&A, which gave me a personal insight, is that he said that in another study, they tested how many frames people of different ages took to "get" an image. The general idea was that the kids (say, 18-22) got an image in just a few frames, while it took the Boomers many more. I heard some of the other Boomers commenting that no wonder they thought Connected went by too fast, but I have to say I kept up with it just fine. My only complaint is that it repeated the use of some of the shots too many times. Indeed, in that question of how long I felt the first shot of Orbis Minor had taken, I did perceive the second film as an 18-22 would. But though it felt excruciatingly slow to me, at first, I was able to adjust and enjoy it in the same way that my age cohort did, after probably 30 seconds. I have one foot in each world, apparently. Not a bad thing. I don't own a cell phone and don't text, but I do sorely miss my laptop whenever it crashes; I use it for everything from Twitter to blogging, and revel in everything I can do in making connections online. But I also need to get outdoors and just sit and meditate too. If we ever have to go back to doing without all this, I'll be okay with that too, probably.
|(Fractal-Tree from http://emergent-culture.com/)|