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reeldance festival: global shorts, the art of moving

ashley syne

Traces, Chirstinn Whyte Traces, Chirstinn Whyte
In Trace (Chirstinn Whyte, UK) a dancer’s passage leaves an indentation, dot to dot, as the young woman enters right of frame, her movement lucid, crisp in its execution, and moves perpetually backwards, dehumanised in rewound slow motion. The camera is still, the stifled sound mimics her quiet movements. Superimposed dotted lines mark the air her limbs have conquered–remnants of her movement–while the right side of the screen floods with notated movement as the dancer continues her journey.

Global Shorts #03: The Art of Moving was a collection of 15 short films crammed into 70 minutes, ranging from a crowd of teenagers seeking the camera’s gaze (You made me love you, director Miranda Pennell, UK, 4mins) to the unforgettable image of a has-been ballerina with humorously exaggerated curves (Que Me Ilamen Heroina, dir Stephen Lynch, Spain, 10mins). The program presented an array of unique filmic explorations with interplay between body, gesture, choreography, objects, superimposed graphics and various film techniques. Passagem (Celina Portella, Elisa Pessoa, Brazil, 6mins) and Narroweyes (Sirah Foighel Brutmann, Aaph Polonsky, Israel, 7mins) use a single shot to document clusters of moving bodies. In Nicole Seiler's films, Hulle Fulle (Switzerland, 2mins) and Devant-Avant (2mins), faint projections of underwear clad figures appear momentarily on a washing line in one and an infinite space reveals a ghostly duo, through intervals of dispersed steam. in the other.

Autumn leaves falling, an ominous dust storm, flocking birds. “The Gathering” (dir The good guys, Netherlands, 7 mins) is a mesmerising recording of birds in their thousands, hovering above the city skyline, unconscious performers, but proud. Perfectly choreographed birds fluff their feathers in flight as they duck and weave. The camera is still, adjusting in and out of focus, amateurish yet poetic as if filmed from an onlooker’s window sill. Shifting from close up to long, wide shots, our gaze is relentlessly challenged as this natural phenomenon is transformed into an accumulating image of the unknown. The birds lose all their familiarity as this magical formation elongates, folds, pulsates and coils in a perpetual whirlwind over the still, afternoon sky. Soothing, meditative acoustic guitar mimics the graceful and playful nature of the birds’ ephemeral interactions. Eventually the wafting, looming yet serenely feminine mass disperses—the tip of the tail, a lone flyer, briskly passes the screen; the audience sighs, dazzled by its innocence.

Que Me Ilamen Heroina, Stephen Lynch Que Me Ilamen Heroina, Stephen Lynch
The female figure is celebrated, transformed and industrialised in Marriage (dir Amy Caron, USA, 1min)), El Escape (Marilen Iglesias-Breuker, argentina, 7mins) and Tingel Tangel (Kathryn Ferguson, UK, 2mins). All three films present the female as a powerful if dehumanised being whether through the supernatural levitation of a housewife’s legs, the mechanical movement and acrobatic distortion of chrome corseted doll-like women, or the playful puppetry of a wooden dancing machine from a Weimar Berlin cabaret show.

In contrast, Mark Adam's Gun (Canada, 6mins) is a parody of ultra-masculine Hollywood action films, taking the gestures of the gunman and presenting them satirically, larger-than-life and embellished with an intensely clichéd score and comical facial expressions. In a suspenseful fusion of blockbuster cinema and art film with James Bond-like camera effects, done-to-death action-hero images and speeding vehicles, three men taunt one another with weapons. The camera dances, low angle to high, until the gun is aimed at us and we are shot into black. Our eyes adjust to the sudden blindness, white words—“Keep moving fool”—stain our retinas.

Jan Verbeek's Osmotic (Germany/South Korea, 3mins) captures the intricate, unaware ‘dance’ of a parking attendant through the overlapping of images and split screens. Inearthia, by Compagnie CoLateral and Maren Sandmann (Switzerland, 2mins), creates the optical illusion of the earth being spun by a single man by deploying the clever use of weight and momentum, camera trickery and a captivating body. The program ended teasingly with Torbjorn Skarild’s Alt I Alt/All in All (Norway, 5mins) in which a rhythmic score develops from the repeated bounce of a diving board to the momentous ricochet as the diver's feet spring. There's enormous anticipation for the splash, for the breaking of the surface of a placid pool. It never occurs.

Global Shorts #03: The Art of Moving, May 17, ReelDance International Dance on Screen Festival, Performance Space, CarriageWorks, Sydney, May 11-18

RealTime issue #85 June-July 2008 pg. web

© Ashley Syne; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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