Sunday, April 15, 2007

STEM Cell’s third and final festival day featured screenings of short films and videos at Metro Cinema. The houses were small but those in attendance were treated to works by the likes of Guy Maddin (‘Sissy Boy Slap Party) and Istvan Kantor (‘Revolutionary Song’), as well as some very tasty new pieces from Canadian media art co-op affiliated artists.

‘Tea Party’ by Asa Mori of Video Out (BC) went something like this: Hexa-Teat self-squirted and shared her/his lactose bounty with Gas Masked Toxico. Toxico whipped HT’s milk into frothy cappuccinish foam. Back to HT who sliced up some froth and buttered it on Catatonic Giant Head. Yup, you had to be there and for a few minutes we were. Sweetly supping in the fantastical, minimally line drawn realm of Mori.

Graeme Patterson’s ‘Monkey and Deer’ (VideoPool) was another animation feat, this time featuring two unlikely buddies in a warm, sentimental spree across the prairie. A rangy ode to friendship and ingrained icons of tabletop hockey and wheatpool elevators, Monkey and Deer scored. Stop animation emo. StoMo.

Green is the colour of the heart chakra and two hues beat strongly from Vancouver’s Cineworks. Something not-quite-right laughing at the despair of a suicidal 9 year old, but too bad anyway for Timothy Higgins. Abandoned by Snowflake kitty, White and Pepper bunnies and Whitey the cockatiel, little Timmy has no friends. Okay, he has guests at his birthday party but they’re just using him for the cake and one kid insists on bashing Timmy’s handmade papier-mâché bunny (‘that’s not a piñata’) with a baseball bat. Timmy must have something on the ball to string up that noose all by himself, but it’s clear to everyone that he’ll never be in step with the dance of the happy lickers. What else to do in your lime wallpapered bedroom as the ‘World’s Saddest Boy’ but to end it all? Maybe Timmy’s troubles could’ve been cured by a little biological experimentation. In just over a minute, Ben Peters and Toby Gorman invoke a boy’s divine intervention on behalf of unsavioured amphibians. ‘Frog Jesus’ is a subtle and sweet 70 seconds of teal toned Cinework.

A few docs were shown on Saturday and Kai Ling Xue’s ‘A Girl Named Kai’ was heart wrenching. Xue disclosed that the only way to ‘speak out’ to her family about her struggles with identity and sexuality was ‘through moving pictures’. ‘A boy at heart’, Xue’s film and video piece candidly chronicled the emergence of her reinvented self.

Two very different works that were great in their approach to performative presentation were ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ by Emma Howes (Video Out) and ‘Winged Victory’ by Victoria Prince (Video Pool). Hiding in Plain Sight featured a gold lame boob tubed ballerina ‘dancing’ in the frame of a claustrophobic box to excerpts of deceased New Wave cult star Klaus Nomi. Winged Victory was ‘Freaks’ meets Fellini in an all out optically printed funhouse celluloid orgy. ‘The ringmaster is dead but the magic was here all along.’

I look forward to checking out Jfry Craig’s dot.calm/49 stories in a couple of days. If you haven’t already seen it, you should head on down to Latitude. Craig’s installation will be in place until the end of April.

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