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Film festival leads a trip back in time

click to enlarge Hold your breath  itsWater Work by Tony Hill.
  • Hold your breath itsWater Work by Tony Hill.

In an age when cell phones come equipped with video cameras and 10-year-olds can edit footage on their home computers, devotees of the original medium that started it all -- film -- command respect.

Those celluloid frames that require meticulous cutting and pasting (and not with a mouse) and a whirring projector are the original moving pictures. Lucky for us, the film purists and enthusiasts at The International Experimental Cinema Exposition (TIE) are coming to the Springs to remind us why this medium still is relevant, and even downright magical.

"Experimental film is all about the roots of cinema, before cinema was used as a commercial art form," says TIE curator Christopher May. "When they first discovered film, they didn't know it could make money. They were just using this new technology to experiment with picture and image, and maybe do things that might be taboo. These films were the precursors to the film novel or the narrative films that are common today.

"It's interesting. Right now there's a resurgence. You wouldn't believe the amount of young people working exclusively with film, even in this digital age."

Over six years, TIE has organized not just an ever-growing annual film festival (which was held in Denver in September), but also individual retrospectives, workshops and filmmaking camps.

This TIE tour consists of many short films from over the group's history. It's also a bit of a "greatest hits" compilation. The board even decided to break its own rule of never showing a film twice because of the overwhelming popularity of some.

May describes the first half of the show as "a "travelogue."

"It moves moving from the outer reaches of the universe [with Stardust, a hand-painted experimental animation by Gregory Godhard] to the distance between people [Meridian Days, a Colorado Springs favorite about filmmaker Trevor Fife's luxury cruise voyage with his elderly grandmother]," he explains. "It's about how we, as human beings, relate to the Earth and each other."

May's personal favorites from the tour:

Den of Tigers by Jonathan Schwartz. "This is an experimental documentary, but it's so beautiful and engaging and personal that you can watch it over and over. You can only view it projected on film. It speaks the language of film perfectly. And who doesn't like the landscape of India?"

Film (Dzama) by deco dawson. "A fictionalized biography of contemporary watercolor artist Marcel Dzama, who's only 28 or 29, but is already world-renowned. His father plays him in the film, and it's set in the 1920s. It makes references to the surrealist cinema of that age made popular by Luis Buuel, Salvador Dali and Man Ray. It's a really interesting tribute to his creative process."

Water Work by Tony Hill. "This film takes place in a swimming pool and is filmed entirely underwater. It's really amazing, and plays with image and illusion in interesting ways."

The Influence of Ocular Light Perception on Metabolism in Man and in Animal by Thomas Draschan and Stella Friedrichs. "Found footage from the '50s and '60s is pieced together and reconstituted, sometimes frame by frame, with really compelling composition. All of the footage is narrative, but yet it's not. ... It's kind of hard to explain, but it uses this great Italian soft-porn music in its soundtrack, so it's very entertaining."

-- Bettina Swigger

capsule

The International Experimental Cinema (TIE) Anniversary Tour Show

Smokebrush Foundation & Gallery, 218 W. Colorado Ave.

Saturday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.

Free; donations accepted. Visit experimentalcinema.org or call 444-1012.

  • Film festival leads a trip back in time

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