Thursday, October 05, 2006

Chili Fest, Beer Fest, Film Fest

I’ve gone to several festivals recently, but I don’t know why. I never used to go to festivals even though there’s always lots of random shit happening in the Denver Metro area and, despite how much shit I give this town, even Boulder has its fair share of random public screenings, concerts, and largish film festivals. However, it doesn’t have a chili fest. We had to drive 15 minutes out of town for that one. We then consumed many dixie cups of chili and 2 dollar beers. I also met a congressman (he was a dick), and I got into a fight with 3 twelve year olds. It wasn’t just me, a couple of my friends were involved, but I’m proud to say I started it (and I fucking ended it). Punk little shits. But the best part was the performance by “Colorado’s Premiere Beatles Tribute Band!” who did not look or sound like the Beatles, despite their Sgt. Pepper outfits and stupid mustaches. Plus they were all old. However, after several more $2 Fat Tires, they sounded exactly like the Beatles, and I was cheering at the top of my lungs like a British school girl. Chili Fest gets a thumbs up.

Then last weekend was the Great American Beer Fest, the biggest in the U.S. I drank mead, spilled beer all over my shoulder trying to put on a promotional eye patch, and sang most of Bohemian Rhapsody with Radial Relish on the bus ride home, until the popular mood turned against us. The GABF gets a thumbs up too.

After that was Boulder’s own Toofy Film Fest, which wasn't great, but it definatly had its moments (like Mr. Malikai Battles the Aeroplane and American Storage). Most of the stuff was pretty entertaining, but the fest overall highlighted a trend that’s been really pissing me off, the use of digital projection at screenings. Almost every public screening and festival I’ve been to in the last few years projects off DV CAM tapes, or DVD. That’s totally fine, because since most young and independent/experimental filmmakers can’t afford to make prints of their films, and a whole generation now shoots on affordable digital video, festivals that project digitally make it possible for many starving artists to get their movies shown. But in this environment where people are asserting an inevitable death of celluloid, and hailing digital production and projection as this new and technically superior medium, then why does every digital screening I got to look like shit - no hard lines, blurry motion, washed out color, poppy sound? A mushy interlaced mess. I’m not going to go into all the photographic and material reasons why, to me, the celluloid image looks more rich and detailed than digital’s, but if DV is the new festival standard, then use or make available some pro-sumer projectors that live up to all the hype or stop sucking your own dicks, shut the fuck up and project some fucking films. Sure, the digital image can be absolutly beautiful, is capable of rich and sophisticated visuals and has democratized distribution, but what’s the point if it looks like ass when you project it?

What’s even more annoying than the awful quality of most smaller screenings these days despite all the big talk, is that all these new artists who shoot only on DV call themselves “filmmakers” and all these festivals that show primarily (or solely) digital videos call themselves “film” fests. I really have nothing against digital video, I think it’s a completely valid and capable artistic medium that should be explored, respected, and exhibited. But it’s not film. That isn’t a judgment call, its an objective fact. Projected films have a different physical and sensual quality than their younger cousin, and will always remain artistically independent. Video, like film, has its own technically bound aesthetic, its own visual qualities and form which it must embrace and exploit. Since such artists and enthusiasts are always so loudly declaring the beauty and legitimacy of video over celluloid, then why do they always falsely refer to their medium as film? Are they ashamed of their art form? I doubt it. It seems more due to this attack on the part of videomakers to replace film by making works technically “as good as film”, to appropriate its title and standing and thereby legitimize itself. That’s bullshit, apples can’t become “as good” as oranges. Painting didn’t become obsolete after photography, or the radio after TV, because each medium has its own unique aesthetic properties which people still valued for their own sake. Instead of fighting this constant and impossible battle of trying to imitate in all respects an inherently separate medium, videomakers should embrace their form and title and establish their own distinct vocabulary and style. If you say film is dead, than show us something new, instead of chasing a supposed corpse.

My Art - Le Tigre

Le Tigre embraced video art back in the 90’s, making it an integral part in all their kick ass live shows, especially before 80’s video art pioneer Sadie Benning quit the band. This song is after that, but it’s about art, and stupid arguments over art, so I thought it was fitting after my pointless rant.
And here’s their awesome video for Deceptacon off their first album, a great work of video that would just suck on film.


Blogger radialrelish said...

radial RELISH, dick.

October 05, 2006 9:14 PM  
Blogger Grant Miller said...

Ah. Beer.

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