As far as I can remember, nothing happens in this little movie. But it was twice as long as I thought it’d be so I fell asleep and can’t be sure. Pretty graphics, like MirrorMask but more boring.

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Great picture quality on my downloaded copy, but forgot it had no subtitles. Movie seemed to show statues and masks in a museum setting, then as part of daily life, and finally in a large storeroom in a government building. Half an hour long.

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Harvard Film Archive, or someone they’ve quoted, says: “This collaborative film, banned for more than a decade by French censors as an attack on French colonialism (and now available only in shortened form), is a deeply felt study of African art and the decline it underwent as a result of its contact with Western civilization. Marker’s characteristically witty and thoughtful commentary is combined with images of a stark formal beauty in this passionate outcry against the fate of an art that was once integral to communal life but became debased as it fell victim to the demands of another culture.”

Chris Marker wrote the commentary, not a bit of which I understood. Actually I got the word “mask” a few times. Don’t think this will help Katy’s research any, but she graciously watched it with me anyway.

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More straightforward and less poetic than it usually gets credit for, pretty much a straight half-hour documentary about the holocaust.

More educational, more heartbreaking, more shocking, more horrible and a far better movie than any of the 60-minute PBS documentaries I’ve seen on the subject, any two-hour fictionalized concentration-camp movie, any three-plus-hour Steven Spielberg feature.

The poetic parts are mostly at the start and end, and in the juxtaposition between the 50’s color film and the 30’s-40’s b/w stock footage. Must be hard to craft an artistic film against this sort of imagery. Jean Cayrol (Muriel ou Le temps d’un retour) wrote the commentary and Chris Marker was assistant director.

Katy, if I seemed a little depressed on Sunday night, this is why.

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“All the memory of the world”. Twenty minute short on the French National Library. The long middle section is a class-filmstrip-type movie in that it tours the facility and shows how everything works, but with the gliding hallway cameras and poetic narration of a Resnais or Marker film. Posits the library as man’s collective memory, sort of like the library in that guy’s head in Dreamcatcher. Credits say “with the collaboration of… Chris and Magic Marker” and Agnes Varda, among many others. At the end, after comparing people to insects, over a shot of a hundred library visitors reading the books they’ve selected, it closes: “Astrophysics, physiology, theology, taxonomy, philology, cosmology, mechanics, logic, poetics, technology. Here we catch a glimpse of a future in which all mysteries are resolved. A time when we are handed the keys to this and other universes. And this will come about because these readers, each working on his slice of universal memory, will lay the fragments of a single secret end to end, a secret with a beautiful name, a secret called happiness.” Nice little movie.

Chris Marker’s book:
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Hiding in the stacks, a guard attacks:
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Amphetamine (1966)
Where Did Our Love Go? (1966)

Warren Sonbert started his career just like Stan Brakhage (Desistfilm) – sitting around his apartment, shooting his friends doing daily stuff. But where Brakhage used camera tricks and crazy editing, Sonbert (12 years later) relied on his friends’ outrageous antics (drug use, homosexuality, knowing Andy Warhol) to make his movies interesting. It didn’t work for me, but the mid-60’s pop songs he strung together on the soundtrack made for good listening.

Honor and Obey (1988)
Friendly Witness (1989)

Then Sonbert travelled the world for a number of years, reviewing operas and shooting everything he came across with his portable Bolex. And like the dude who did “Ashes & Snow”, he one day sat down and edited all his stuff through the years into some movies. Unlike “Ashes” though, it’s quickly and intuitively edited, the shot order making sense only to the director, if anybody. “Honor and Obey” is completely Brakhage-silent, and Friendly Witness starts with the same 60’s pop songs from before, then uses opera over the second half. Slightly more excitingly edited than “Honor” and would’ve been preferable anyway if only for the pop songs. Completely wonderful films, great color, great framing, lots of animal shots, shots from planes, on water, on children. Loved ’em. Didn’t understand ’em, of course, but didn’t have to.

About what I’d expected, really. Maddin slowed down the pace of his editing to accomodate Isabella’s writing style I guess. Not much to it – She plays herself, her mom (Ingrid Bergman), David Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin. Talks to her dad’s giant belly. Short, good. “My dad was a genius. I think.”

Excellent program, sadly underattended. Used to sell out both screenings – what happened?

The Moon and the Son
The Oscar ™ winner for best short in 2006. Might not have belonged in this program, since it’s more than twice as long as any other short here. Guy venting frustration with his Italian ex-mafioso father via animation. I’m not into the whole squid-and-the-whale family bitching scene, but this was pretty good stuff. Faith and Emily Hubley mentioned in the credits, I guess as animators, though Faith died in 2001.

Bubblecraft
Kinda crappy music video to kinda crappy song. Things float by in bubbles, okay.

The Little Matchgirl
Disney cartoon that looks like Disney cartoon but moves… a little too smoothly… something seemed somehow wrong. Sad lil story of girl freezing to death set to some important music piece I forget which.

Man Drawing a Reclining Woman
Stop-motion! Director was there.

Loom
Stop motion… old woman is Death, collects thread from dying street musician’s head after he saves little girl in the street, weaves it in her loom. Director was there, spent four years on it, is angry about Adult Swim.

Dragon
Girl draws horrors from her past at orphanage, director sells drawings for lotta money, girl summons dragon to destroy director. Something about commercializing other people’s artwork… filmmaker must work for a heartless cartoon company that rakes in large profits while paying him beans. Unjust!

The Mantis Parable
I never get parables. The mantis wouldn’t save the caterpillar, but the butterfly saves the mantis, or something.

The Zit
Gross. Cat pops huge zit or something.

Drawing Lessons
Girl can’t sleep, learns to draw Picasso upside down while listening to thrift store tape or something. Director tries to nimbly jump between insomnia and drawing and tape facets of plot but didn’t seem so nimble to me. I don’t always get the point of cartoon shorts… seems like they put too much thought into being fucking nimble and end up with nothing much to say and then you’ve got everyone telling me oooh, The Cathedral is a great little movie and I should see it. Not saying Drawing Lessons is as sluggish as The Cathedral, but both focus so much on technique and nothing else – intended audience seems to be themselves and fellow animators.

The Sandbox
Now this one had something to say, I think. Maybe about the world trade center. Maybe about the tsunami, or about absent parents, or The Future? I didn’t get it… was kinda pretty, though. Kinda.

Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot
Finally a great one. Fumi’s foot is bad luck, and everything crashes into it and hurts her, till she learns to use its extreme bad luck to draw misfortune away from others. Nice closing shot, with Fumi walking through a field, tripping bulldozers and things.

Juxtaposer
By the talented Joanna Davidovich. Girl on bench just wants to get along with cat, I think.

Ichthys
The Cathedral, part 2, wherein guy at restaurant grows old while waiter catches tiny fish for dinner. Great part involving screaming and arms falling off, the rest an exercise in tedium.

Fluid Toons
Fantastic plymptoon & stimpy style badass grungy little bunch of skits with more humor in ’em than everything previous (except Fumi) combined. Voices obviously done after the fact just add to hilarity. Downloadable too! Kinda terrible, but also the one I most wanted to see again. That’ll show all you serious artists.

Chickenheads
More fluid toons, starring a chicken hunting rabbit. Artist in attendance!

The Atlanta Film Festival brought Jim Henson’s daughter Heather to town, where she presented a collection of puppet films at the Puppetry Arts Center.

Harker (eerie puppet vampire tale)… Sammy and Sofa (and sock monkey, “jumping the shark”)… Ola’s Box of Clovers (chainsmoking puppet imagines her grandmother’s dreams)… Everloving (just a special-effects test)… Herd (alien abducts cows, convinces guy to build mysterious box)… Mother Hubbard… Mary Anning and Her Monsters… Mysterious Mose (fun music video)… Tales of the Tinkerdee (early Jim Henson program shot in Atlanta – troubadour Kermit narrates)… and Henson’s cancelled program of moralist shorts for kids, with a too-appealing baddie.