It's Night Two of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Sandra Bullock vs. Forest Whitaker (aka Forest graciously presents Sandra with the American Riviera Award becauseshe is awesome ).
Since we know that both artists are immensely talented, humble, and that the ceremony inside the arlington will go predictably... I'm not going to get into it.
What does always strike me as interesting is the ritual that occurs on the red carpet. We (the press) arrive and check-in, and then stake out our 6 inches of space, exchange light conversation about camera lenses (Nikon vs. Canon) and consider if anyone near us might need a some gum. Then we wait.
The stars eventually arrive, and in typical 'gracious star' fashion, greet their fans with varying levels of authenticity. Sandra made a big effort to go say hi, shake a few hands, give a few quick interviews and chat.
Eventually, the stars handlers and festival organizers help them make their way (separately, never overlapping) and up the carpet and through the gauntlet of yelping and jostling journalists. There's a different emotional vibe with the press than with the fans. Most photographers yell the stars names or shout compliments at them that are mostly designed to elicit a momentary response (preferably a genuine looking smile).
The stars play along with the ritual. They smile, and then pause for longer-than-realistic periods of time so that everyone can get a good shot (probably thinking to themselves "you know, I never really get used to this.."). They occasionally joke back at us, but it's always slightly awkward because everybody knows the game, and everyone is a little anxious to get their awards, or review their photos. As a former Anthropology major, I can't help wonder how this ritual might look to outsiders.
I'll freely admit that despite my weird comments about the press line, it is fun to be surrounded by so much energy and enthusiasm. I do my best to ignore the few cranky and jaded journalists who seem to complain a lot about; people in their way, dead camera batteries, bloggers and lost press-passes. In my mind, I offer them a breath mint.
At the end, I always leave these red carpet events with a bigger smile on my face than I expected. Despite all the strange fanfare and commotion, being so close to famous people does humanize them a little bit - which is comforting.
I think Sandra wins in the screaming chanting salivating fans department. But Forest might actually have the upper hand in the charming smile category. Make your thoughts known below.
Tags: santa barbara international film festival, c2sbiff, sbiff, sbiff 2010, 2010, santa barbara entertainment news, chopin, carey mulligan, saoirse ronan, gabourey sidibe, michael stuhlbarg, virtuoso, chopin virtuosos award february, american riviera award, dates for sbiff, sandra bullock, forest whitaker
This picture is from the back of the room (at CAF) during the 'Amazing Animated Jukebox Vol 2' show (consisting of animated videos compiled by Ted Mills for 2010's first Forum Lounge). The show consisted of a series of hand-picked music videos with exceptional/artful and progressive animation.
This reminded me of how easy I have it as a mostlystill visual artist. Animators work their asses off.
For example, Birdy Nam Nam's video directed/created (?) by Willy Sweeny (see first video below) was a very interesting and artful combination of elements I can't even begin to describe here ('cause I'd say something unintelligible like retro-HeMan-Atari lasers meets acid-trip-orbiting-sugarcube-shooting-katchina-hero narrative).
I think I was more-or-less smitten by everything except for the very last video of the evening (not to be confused with the last video on this page), which felt a little too similar to a lot of post-modern animation that I've seen (think hairy, slimy, extra-appendage-laiden, crooked toothed cartoon characters). I can't remember the name of the artist or director at the moment, but I was slightly sad to see it end on that note. I'm being nit-picky though. It was an impressive and fun show.
I've embedded a few of the highlights below (though there were a few more that I'll have to look up because I stupidly didn't take notes).
Birdy Nam Nam - The Parachute Ending
"Myriad Harbor" by the New Pornographers
"E-Pro" by Beck
"Happy Up Here" by Ryoskopp
"Evil Bee" by Menomena
My apologies for not including more of the director/animator credits.. If I can, I'll ask Mr. Mills for the playlist.
Here are some more pics:
Tags: contemporary art, santa barbara, CAF, contemporary arts forum, animated jukebox, ted mills, videos, animation
I went to the Santa Barbara Shorts screening at Victoria Hall Wednesday night for a very diverse and enjoyable set of films (nine in all). The sb shorts are an interesting and often neglected little vein of SBIFF, which are predominantly attended by those either involved directly in the making of one of the films, or those related to someone who was. From what I gather - due to the relative lack of obstacles for 'getting a piece into SBIFF if you're a Santa Barbarian' - there is a considerable lack of interest on the part of the greater public - probably because it is widely assumed that the quality of local entries is sub-par compared to the rest of the festivals screenings. To some degree, I understand this logic. On the other hand, there is a rushed freshness to most of these pieces, which makes for some truly unique and enjoyable film experiences.
There were probably two or three obvious standouts, some doozies, and others that fell somewhere inbetween. Here are some thoughts on them in order of appearance.
Based loosely on a Dave Eggers short story, Anatomy of Numbers (dir Erin Cantelo) was a sweet, intimate portrayal of two lovers in bed flirting, fondling - and eventually making love. Filmed in warm tones, it showcased subtle human gestures, vulnerable moments, and some of the more complex cultural norms that effect our most personal moments (in this case revolving around how many sexual partners each person had had in the past). Though there were brief moments where I was reminded that the people on screen were acting, Cantelo's sophisticated eye (exquisite lighting and depth of field camerawork), humor, sound choices and a acute sense of human charm, vulnerability, and cultural baggage made it obvious that we'll be seeing more of her wonderful work in the future. ****1/2(4.5 stars)
A Room for Sarah (dir Ginger Swanson) was a faux 1920's era silent film, based on a true story, about a woman confined by her brother (and his nasty wife) to an upstairs room in their late father's house. The film did not hold together (though there was a narrative) for me. The filming was not convincing (even for a Chaplinesque musical silent flim) or particularly engaging. **1/2 (2.5 stars)
Business (dir John McKinney) stood out from the beginning with it's off-kilter edgy humor, augmented pacing and bizarre but compelling characters Caleb and Walker. The 19 minute film chronicles a continuous set of situational non-sequiturs that follow Caleb's challenges after inheriting a very non-glamourous office building that he is determined to use to 'make lots of money'.. somehow. Though there was an almost undetectable narrative, McKinney maintained a comical and spellbinding comedy that had everyone either on the edge of their seats, or in danger of falling on the floor from laughter. Though not intentional (I asked John after the film) I thought it also had subtle shades of Zach, Tim and Eric, which is never a bad thing. Easily, one of my 2 favorite shorts this year. ****1/2(4.5 stars)
The Early Worm (dir Ray Pivato) was a super lo-fi 'day in the life' of a poor business man who gets up early to do his thing, only to be foiled by a series horrible misfortunes. Though it had a lot of cheap laughs, and great cursing repetition, it dragged on a few minutes too long. *** (3 stars)
En Route (dir Karl Mefford) featured race-cars, super sharp bond-like cinematography, and even a little twist, but smacked a little too much of too much budget (and equipment) and too little planning or attention to narrative. Seemed more like an afternoon 'boy's playing with an expensive camera and expensive cars' than something you'd want to go see outside of your friends living-room. ** (two stars).
The Fisherman (dir Jason Hallows) had a fresh take on the old Genie in a Bottle story. A fisherman, while having a smoke catches a typical genie lantern in his fishing net, at which point things get a little weird. Shot and produced in less than a week, this short was impressive both because of it's built in sense of humor and curiosity, and for a very unique set of visual effects. I thought It could have been developed more though. I would love to see what Hallows could come up with in twice or three times the time. ***1/2 (3.5 stars).
Rashi Bahri's film Sarah (yeah, I know, second one with that name in one night) was a difficult to watch, but courageous piece of fiction that depicted a young woman tortured by nightmares of drowning, who decides to confront her fear. Though the director plays some old-school (and possibly played-out) cinematic tricks, there are many stylistic and emotional subtleties that invite a second viewing. it was also consistently and convincingly suspenseful. The film does a good job of showcasing and elaborating on human emotions that are too often oversimplified. ***1/2 (3.5 stars)
Showing Disaster: Tea Fire Reflections (dir Ethan Turpin), which was only 4 minutes long, stood out because of its self-reflexive dissection of ethical questions surrounding the documenting of disaster. Turpin delicately (but simply and clearly) unpacked complex ideas like cultural voyeurism, empathy, and subsistence in a non-conclusive (and refreshingly honest) style. Showing Disaster invited far more comments and questions than the other shorts, which I believe is usually an indication of a very strong work of art. ****1/2 (4.5 stars)
We Have Lost our Wings but Still We Dream of Flying (dir Elia Vargas) was (for me) the low point of the shorts screening. Vargas chose a split screen presentation for this film, depicting both a romantic (and voyeuristic) scene of a beautiful girl rolling around in a field in the wind on one side, and a dismal, green-toned, dark indoor scene with a male figure sitting alone beside a lamp on the other. I thought that the imagery was actually strong, as was the soundtrack - which consisted of compelling swelling squelchy electric ambient noise. But the whole thing was ruined by what sounded like a morbid high-school goth-kids all-too-long monologue about how 'the world' is 'puke', decaying and devoid of goodness. It's not the sentiment that was off-putting, but the delivery, which seemed to lack any awareness of how played-out and sophomoric it might actually be. Though earnest and occasionally interesting, 'Flying' left me pretty flat. *1/2 (1.5 stars)
Tags: sbiff, santa barbara international film festival, sbarts
Looks like there's a lot going on at the Arlington. SBIFF is coming up of course... But we're really hoping to catch David Sedaris.
You can see the schedule (more or less) at the new revamped Arlington website though it doesn't seem to have information about daily film screenings or half of the information that is visible from the street.
Colin Gray stands next to an arial photorealistic painting by Julika Lackner.
Sullivan Goss Gallery's current show curated by Susan Bush is called '10 Under 30'. Like most shows at SG, the show felt professional, but lacks a certain consistency (though consistency can be overrated at times) and excitement. The show features 10 artists under 30: Sean Anderson, Robert Burden, Asad Faulwell, Ingrid Holden, Julika Lackner, Dan Lydersen, Matt Sanders, Katy Schmid, Kelly Wheeler and Yoskay Yamamoto.
The figurative work was mostly well-executed but relatively conservative, and uninteresting - with exception to Dan Lydersons' rendition of 'Annunciation' which was provocative, and captivatingly eerie.
Dan Lyderson's 'Annunciation'
The only other piece that caught my attention was Julika Lackner's ambient feeling arial cityscape 'Airport'. Though it was just that (a photo realistic depiction of an airport and surrounding suburbs), it really did seem to encourage a sense of wonder about technology and human innovation without directly referencing it.