Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back In Time: ANTIMATTER (September 26)

It took two days to travel to the Antimatter Film Festival. We flew to Seattle, stayed overnight in the Moore Hotel downtown, then walked down to the pier early in the morning to catch the Victoria Clipper high-speed ferry to the island of Victoria, British Columbia, where we performed Fortune and participated in a panel discussion on Live Cinema.

Autumn weather in charming downtown Victoria was a real treat. 10,000 thank-yous go to festival director Todd Eacrett and curator Deborah De Boer, who ensured that our stay was fantastic. We were put up at Paul's Motor Inn, in a room off the secret courtyard in the back, a very cozy hideout. We could and did walk everywhere. We visited the Victoria Bug Zoo, where I held all kinds of large bugs, from the most regal and sentient praying mantis to the gigantic exotic cockroach, and saw a colony of the amazing leaf-cutter ants. We imbibed at Big Bad John's, where you can throw your peanut shells on the ground, and be startled by phony tarantulas lowered down on your table by the staff.  We ate lots of awesome asian food, and generally just celebrated with the festival folks, including lots of other visiting and local filmmakers and artists.  

photo by Steven Masuch

Here we are with artist/panel moderator John Boehme, and San Francisco filmmaker Kerry Laitala, after the Live Cinema panel. John led us through a lively discussion about filmmaking, performance with the moving image, and art making in contemporary times. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

We saw some great work including Craig Baldwin's new film "Mock Up on Mu," which incorporates a lot more original film into his signature found-footage montage style, solidifying the narrative undercurrent in a positive way. It was also a treat to see "We will live to see these things, or, five pictures of what may come to pass," by Julian Metzer and David Thorne. Our friend Chris Kubick has been working on the soundtrack for many months-- what a nice surprise to see/hear this experimental documentary shot in Syria, in its finished state. "Frank & Cindy" by G.J. Echternkamp is also a very worthwhile feature-length personal documentary about the filmmaker's mother and stepfather, and active relations amongst the three of them influenced by and during the making of the film.

Antimatter is a highly respected and well funded festival due to outstanding programming. The British Columbia Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts are just two of their many sponsors. I admit that I was surprised at the size of the audience.  Quality trumped quantity, however, with the small crowds comprised of many video and film makers, professors, and students. This could be due to the smallness of Victoria, and/or the fact that there was a student-worker strike going on that took down one of the two venues with Antimatter programming, forcing lots of grueling, last-second rescheduling. Another reason may be the tiny festival staff-- it's amazing to witness how much can actually accomplished by such a small group. If they operate like I do, though, publicity is the last hat that I can manage to put on after all of the other important responsibilities.  Whatever the case may be, I wish we had been able to afford (both financially and temporally) to stay for the duration of this exceptional 10-day episode, honoring the cream of the experimental moving-image crop.

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