1078 Gallery debuts new film festival
Chico, CA 95928
“The various media reflect and undermine each other’s reports, detecting gaps, contradiction and bias in the perception and mediation of the primary experiences or encounters that set the trail of records in motion.”
Chew on that for a minute.
That mouthful of artistic intent comes from filmmaker Tirtza Even’s statement about her experimental documentary Once a Wall, or Ripple Remains, one of 13 films on the program for 1078 Gallery Film Festival 2009, taking place Aug. 14-16 at the 1078 Gallery.
The Michigan-based artist works out those ideas through scenes she filmed during 1998-99 in the occupied territories of Palestine. Instead of laying out a straight narrative of the trip, Even manipulated the footage and added digital effects and music to create a series of interlocking, dream-like moving portraits: A red ball bounces down a path in a frame that slowly spins across a computer-generated black grid; close-up shots of Palestinians on the street fold into one another; four full-color kids move through a black-and-white streetscape and each time they stop/freeze, black silhouettes are burned into the background.
While this is the extreme side of the program, there is a wide, eclectic spectrum of films on the three-night schedule—from locally made experimental shorts to an hour-long documentary on Chico-based photographer Ira Latour (Mike Wellins’ Visions of the 20th Century).
“One of our goals was to bring films that people would not normally see in Chico,” said Carla Resnick, one of the festival’s organizers. And with the very experimental Once a Wall chosen as Best Full Length of the festival, it’s fair to guess that the 1078 has made good on bringing some unique art to Chico.
Though this technically isn’t the gallery’s first film fest—long-time gallery supporters Todd Hall and current city of Chico Arts Projects Coordinator Mary Gardner put on a couple of 1078 film fests in 1983 and 1984—this event is just getting started in its current form.
Gallery board members Laura Nice and Thomasin Saxe have teamed up with Resnick (former 1078 director and current Web site manager) to relaunch the event. Even though efforts to obtain specific grant money for the festival weren’t successful, Resnick said, and the gallery’s existing financial resources are very scarce, they were committed to making something happen.
“We decided to do it anyway—start small, start organically,” Resnick said. “We’re sort of learning as we go.”
The word went out in January to local media, as well as film schools, California Arts Council and online arts resources. All formats were considered—short or long, narrative, documentary, works in progress, experimental, animation.
“We’ll probably have a theme in the future,” said Resnick, adding, “We’re happy with the entries.”
Films came from across the U.S. and as far away as Canada and Europe. The submissions were reviewed by a three-person jury that included Nice, Chico musician/writer Josh Indar and retired Chico State professor and film critic (and CN&R contributor for 30-plus years) Peter Hogue. In addition to selecting the program, the panel gave awards for Best Full Length, Best Short, Best Documentary and Best in Show.
“[There were] not a large number of submissions,” offered Hogue, “but a gratifyingly large proportion of them turned out to be of real interest. … The longer documentaries were very good; and the local entries add up to a diverse and very appealing program.”
Local entries include artist/musician Weston Thomson’s five-minute Juvenescent, and Studio Tesla’s Sometime in July, a three-minute piece featuring the electronically altered voices of some friends of filmmakers Pat Collentine and Susan Larsen as they speak from behind a nearly opaque block of glass.
Other films on the schedule include Greg Catellier and Jeff Curtis’ mesmerizing dance short Disrepair (winner of Best Short) and Ontario, Canada-based Liss Platt’s Somewhere Between Here and There. Platt’s Best of Show winner is a 10-minute “rumination on places we call home” and features scenes of various modes of conveyance—from semi trucks to a Ferris wheel—with voices that leak mundane pieces of conversation into the collage: “I’m sorry you can’t stay.” “Are we there yet?”
The two biggies on the schedule are Wellins’ documentary of the world-renowned Latour, and Porto de mon enfance (“Porto of my childhood”), a part-documentary/part-drama by well-known Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira.
“Oliveira turned 100 last year, and he continues to be a very active and impressive presence in international cinematic art,” said Hogue. “Porto is an autobiographical work, as are the two Oliveira films which have had well-received screenings here in the University Film Series [at Chico State]—I’m Going Home and Journey to the Beginning of the World.”
In addition to the three nights’ worth of screenings, Even’s hour-long Once a Wall will be shown repeatedly during regular gallery hours (12:30-5:30 p.m.) Thursday through Saturday, the week of the festival.
“We hope that it grows over time, and that it can become a regular film festival,” Resnick said.