The Coyote Shorts Program:

Department of Injustice (Travis Wood & Chloe Gbai)

Didactic anti-racist dialogue in an ironic-jokey automated phone tree framework. Looks like street and news photography mapped into a 3D gaming engine, which is neat at least.


Spirits and Rocks: An Azorean Myth (Aylin Gökmen)

Opens with b/w volcanic rock photography, so a good pairing with last night’s Rock Bottom Riser. The stock footage scenes announce themselves when the widescreen frame goes square. Smoke and trees and rock, textures and landscapes, really great looking.


VO (Nicolas Gourault)

Former Uber self-driving test riders tell all, circling around an accident that killed a bicyclist in Arizona while the human operator was watching TV episodes on a cellphone instead of looking at the road. Along with news footage and camera views inside and outside the car, we get repeated radar-view driving scenes, what the car “sees” of its environment.


Maat Means Land (Fox Maxy)

Takes the game-engine mashups of the first short to the next level… also this and the second short featured lizards, and there has been a theme of image manipulation – overall a well assembled shorts program. This film has everything at once, too many to start listing, all kinds of distorted music and styles and presentations, returning to scenes involving indigenous people and land. A sign about killing the colonizer in your head cuts straight to Tupac, extremely reminiscent of the latest Adam Curtis.


The Truth About Hastings (Dan Schneidkraut)

And finally the Adam Curtis connection brings us to a Nebraska-set numerology-obsessed conspiracy-theory voiceover over shots of a conference-room family gathering full of meats and Husker games, the picture gradually shimmering and smearing to reveal the alien intelligence underneath. “A Runza restaurant exactly nine minutes away – think about it.”


Plus some non-Coyote shorts we watched over the course of the week…

The I and S of Lives (Kevin Jerome Everson)

Simply a guy rollerskating around the Lives in DC’s Black Lives Matter Plaza… Sicinski compares Everson’s films to Lumiere actualités, I dunno, I find them especially pleasant to watch and hope they become regular, comforting presences in T/F programs. I’m even leaning towards checking out Park Lanes, or at least the shorter Tonsler Park.


Brontosaurus (Jack Dunphy)

This guy’s name kept coming up – I think he was in the online game show with the Beasts of the Southern Wild director and an especially good MC, and this made us decide to check out his film. I was pretty sure I’d remember an eight-minute short i watched late at night (which somehow offended Katy so we watched the Everson afterwards as a palate cleanser) but now it’s a month later and I’m afraid I do not… the only letterboxd review just says “Raw,” which is no help. I can see I rated it 3.5 stars, that ain’t bad!


Homage to the Work of Philip Henry Gosse (Pablo Martín Weber)

Another forgotten short, but apparently well loved and referenced in my All Light, Everywhere notes. Fossils vs. creationism, artificial images and Syrian war.


O Arrais do Mar (Elisa Celda)

The one where we could barely see anything happening, filmed late at night on a Portuguese beach. Some fishing was involved, some hanging out – a long and sleepy movie.

At True/False we saw a couple movies by Everson: the one-take-whatever Partial Differential Equation, and the very great Hampton. So I’m checking to see what else is out there.


Workers Leaving the Job Site (2013)

Silent handheld shot of the titular workers leaving the titular job site. Five minutes in – an edit! But it just cuts to another minute of the same thing. My least favorite film of workers leaving a job site, after the Lumiere and the Kaurismaki – or maybe it’s a tie for last with the Farocki.


Three Quarters (2015)

Silent again, medium shots of two guys doing magic tricks with cards and string and quarters, a hundred times more fun than watching them leave the job site.


Ears, Nose and Throat (2016)

1. Grainy outdoor night photography with fireflies, punctuated by left/right hearing-test tones.

2. Doctor with unsynched sound explains to patient that she has misaligned vocal cords and that’s why her voice gets tired.

3. She’s in a sound booth, unsynched again, telling about an argument she witnessed leading neighbor Chris to kill his friend DeCarrio. We’re outside the booth and I’m wondering if the opening scene was where the shooting happened.

4. We’re in the sound booth with her, hearing the tones she’s hearing.

5. Back at doctor’s office, room tone.

Ohhhhhh wow, DeCarrio was the director’s son, and the sound-booth woman a witness to his murder. That is a hell of a thing to make a film about.


Music from the Edge of the Allegheny Plateau (2019)

Two music performances, living room gospel and pickup truck rap, merged at the end by messing with the sync. The film title plus shots of a woman looking at a hillside through binoculars gives a (geo-)anthropological feeling, like the music is in the land and you can find it if you look hard enough.


Black Bus Stop (2019)

College(?) kids having non-sync discusions with imprecise focus and framing, start talking about a black bus stop and the sound doubles up on itself, cut to night with performance-art stances and choreographed performances and songs, I think all of them school/greek-related… then back to the meta-cacophony about the bus stop. Shot at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, codirected with History Department chair Claudrena Harold.

Very observational doc of exams week at a university in Argentina – the same school Solaas attended. Some students do alright, some completely space on the works they were supposed to study or memorize, and some get caught trying to bullshit their way through a debate, their better-prepared colleagues caught on camera smirking at their attempts. A few perfectly opportune shots, students having an emotional moment, or swaying in and out of frame while calling parents on cellphones. Opening short Partial Differential Equation (Kevin Jerome Everson) was well suited to the feature – straightforward doc in a higher learning facility, observational to the point that you start focusing on the mathematician’s fingernails instead of the work. A morning screening, so the very ambient 3-piece Saltbreaker opened.

Braced myself for Time to be this year’s Quest or Primas, the deeply felt personal story of injustice and eventual healing, but it ended up feeling more like an advertisement for someone else’s cause, something they’ve believed in so strongly for so long that they think you’ll believe it too after a few simple words. Fox Rich’s husband gets out of jail after 20 years, and while our director was producing a short for the NY Times, she brought out boxes of videotapes from the entire prison sentence and beyond, and a feature was born. Black and white film to smooth out the time jumps, perfect piano and string score tying it all together, decades flashing by in single edits. Today, Fox is a speaker, writer, advocate for prison reform, broadcasting facebook live streams while running her own car dealership and raising a bunch of sons – a documentarian’s dream. Time goes by, forgiveness is found, but the legal system is impersonal and indifferent. Garrett couldn’t come, so she sent two producers for the Q&A, which we stayed for. Black Bear Combo opened, a good time. Hampton (Kevin Jerome Everson) was an unexpected pleasure, a few-minute short spotlighting the vocal talents of a student and/or bus driver, direct to camera.