July 27, 2007

The 20th Annual Dallas Video Festival, July 31 - August 5

[NOTE: I may update this post from time to time as the Festival unfolds, to the extent I hear buzz that might be helpful; for links to videos & views of people at the Festival and related events, go here.]

The next DVF will soon be here, bigger and better than ever; it opens Tues., July 31 with Bodacious Boots by Tim Wylie and Laura Neitzel (a.k.a. the Good Witch of the Wild West), a documentary about cowboy boots featuring such luminaries as Lyle Lovett, Kinky Friedman, Dean Fearing, Dr. Laura, and Kelly Le Brock.

The DVF includes some 250 programs on multiple screens over a concentrated period. It's impossible to see everything one should, but I have a blast trying. Total DVF immersion is an experience no one should miss.

Below are some picks for the art-oriented. I've tried to be selective; there's TONS of other good stuff; for more info, go to the Dallas Video Festival website. I have not seen most of these picks, other than the ones I helped curate. Please confirm show times and locations before you go; here's a schedule that describes the programs in chron order, so you can see what conflicts with what. It's 29 pp. long, so you might want to print it two-sided, if you have the option. Parental discretion is advised for some programs.

WED., 8/1, 9PM at the Angelika Dallas: VIVA! by Anna Biller, wrangled by my darling sig. other, Ben. A suburban housewife abandoned by her husband finds herself in the middle of a swinging sexual revolution and is dragged through the worlds of hippies, prostitutes, and [god, no] bohemia! Imagine a more intensely visual, funnier, much more self-aware and much more female Russ Meyers and you’ll get a clue; this film is destined to become a classic! And Biller not only wrote, directed, and produced it, she also stars in the lead role and designed all the costumes -- Anna, you are my idol! Q & A with her here, where I see she notes her work was mentioned in Artforum's "Best of 1994."

THUR., 8/2, 7PM at the Dallas Theater Center: El Automóvil Gris (The Grey Automobile). A blood and thunder melodrama of robbery, kidnapping, and a fate worse than death inspire this cross-cultural, multi-media fantasia based on Enrique Rosas’ 1919 thriller. The real-life Grey Automobile Gang terrorized Mexico City, and Rosas filmed on location where the actual events occurred. Leading Mexican theater director Claudio Valdes Kuri has created an extravaganza based on the Japanese benshi tradition of live actors narrating silent films. Two costumed players supply dialogue and commentary in Spanish and Japanese, with English translation by North Carolina spoken-word artist Thomas McDonald and accompanied by a newly-created piano score. A separate ticket ($25) is required for this three-hour event.

THUR., 8/2, 8PM at the DTC: The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. "Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what you desire -- it tells you how to desire" - Slavoj Zizek. The Pervert's Guide takes the viewer on an exhilarating ride through some of the greatest movies ever made. The charismatic Zizek, Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, delves into the hidden language of the cinematic canon, uncovering what movies tell us about ourselves in what The Times calls "an extraordinary reassessment of cinema." The film cuts its cloth from the very world of the movies it discusses; by shooting at original locations and on replica sets, creating the uncanny illusion that Zizek is speaking from within the films themselves.

FRI., 8/3, 7PM DTC: Hadacol Christmas by Brent Green (courtesy of Bellwether Gallery in NYC) is a deliciously dark animation about a Santa with "a belly full of cough syrup and a head full of dying crows." 11.11 min. (Thanks for the tip, Dee Mitchell!)

FRI., 8/3, 7PM or a little later, DTC: Tech-Art Activism Compilation (right AFTER Hadecol Christmas), wrangled by moi. The videos in this compilation show creative uses of technology (sometimes kinda hi-tech and sometimes low-) to challenge perceived abuses of power or public resources. Includes do-it-yourself instructions for some of the technologies; as much fun as it sounds! I discovered most of the pieces in this comp. at the OpenCity: Tools for Public Action show at Eyebeam in NYC, which was curated by Graffiti Research Lab (aka "GRL").

From GRL:

  • L.A.S.E.R. Tag shows GRL's laser-graffiti rig in action: a mobile projection facility used to "bomb" tall buildings without painting or harming them . . . you can put a lot of stuff up before someone stops you. 3.49 min.
  • Light Criticism. A collaboration between GRL and Steve Lambert of the Anti-Advertising Agency to transform publicly-supported, commercial light projection facilities. Advertising is the vandalism of the Fortune 500. 2.20 min.
  • The Drip Sessions. DIY light graffiti projection derived from "the classic shoe polish mop recipe." 2 min.
  • The FIRST LED Throwie. 1 min. Night Writer. Cheap and easy to make, this device enables you to mount boards with 12-inch letters in glowing LED's on any iron or steel surface, up to 25-feet in the air if you stand on an overturned garbage can. Ca. 1 min.
  • Threat Advisory Tower. In this project, GRL created a six-story LED tower lit with the various Homeland Security Threat colors, while blocking out the abutting windows to spell in giant letters, "BLAH BLAH BLAH"; cops arrive, etc. Ca. 3 min.
  • Impeach the F#$%!r From west Manhattan to the Brooklyn Promenade, the "surge" is working! GRL joins forces with A28, truth move, Parsons geek graffiti crew and Home X heroes, the OpenLab, Leon Reid, and others to support Dennis Kucinich’s legislation to impeach V.P. Dick Cheney. 6.36 min.
  • From Mark Jenkins: Traffic-Go-Round. Washington DC recently spent $6 million dollars to redevelop Thomas Circle. The artists decided, for $35 dollars more, why not turn it into a merry-go-round? 3.57 min.

FRI., 8/3, 7PM DTC: Afraid So by Jay Rosenblatt, part of the Humanness and Other Oddities Compilation. A short, black-and-white film about fear and anxiety permeated with impending doom. Jay Rosenblatt is a Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellow and therapist-turned-filmmaker whose works explore our emotional and psychological cores.

FRI., 8/3, 7PM DTC: everything will be ok by Don Hertzfeldt, part of the Humanness and Other Oddities Compilation. A series of dark and troubling events forces Bill to reckon with the meaning of his life -- or lack thereof. Mega awards.

FRI., 8/3, 8PM DTC: Brand upon the Brain by the brilliant Guy Maddin, a director artier and more f---ed-up than Lynch. I haven’t seen as much as I’d like of Maddin’s work; but I long to compare and contrast his Careful with Paul McCarthy’s Heidi. “This lyrical narrative fantasy . . . tells the story of [Maddin’s] childhood through muddled memories of the struggle for power between his mother and older sister. (Silent with musical accompaniment.)” Sponsored by the Canadian Consulate General. Don’t miss what might be your only chance to see this piece.

FRI., 8/3, 8PM DTC: Graphic Activism Compilation, curated by Jan Baxter. These animated shorts each deal with media and the creation of desire using advertising, search engines and other less straightforward methods. Includes The Stork by Nina Paley, What Barry Says by Simon Robeson & Barry McNamara, Master Plan about the Power of Google by Ozan Halici & Jurgen Mayer, Next Industrial Revolution by Christopher V. Bronsart & Daniel Migge, Pirates and Emperors or Size Does Matter by Eric Henry, Trusted Computing by Benjamin Stephan & Lutz Vogel, Kapitaal by Ton Meijdam & Thom Snels, Black Day to Freedom by Rob Chiu, When I Grow Up by Mauro Gatti, and Bear Witness 111 by Eric Henry.

FRI., 8/3, 8PM DTC: 8 Bit, by Marcin Ramocki. A melange of rocumentary, art expose, and culture-critical investigation, this piece examines the influence of video games on contemporary culture and artistic expression. [Update: Local video artist/gallerist/musician Paul Slocum and his band, treewaves, appear in this piece, which elevates it to a must-see for me. See Slocum's and/or gallery website here, his band site here, or his band's MySpace site (where you can hear some music) here. Cory Arcangel, Tom Moody, Marcin of VertexList, RSG, and DRX of Bodenstandig 2000 are also featured.]

FRI., 8/3, 8:30PM DTC: Best of Slant: Bold Asian American Images Film Festival. I’m dying to see this (credit to my unconscious for that pun or whatever it is), since I plan to be born in China for my next life: a 70-min. compilation of short works by Asian American directors, presented at Aurora Picture Show's annual Slant Festival between 2000-2007.

FRI., 8/3, 9:45 DTC: Short Works by David Lynch, including programs from Six Men Getting Sick, The Alphabet, The Grandmother, and each episode of Dumbland. These are or will be available only on his new website, and I think you'd have to subscribe there to see them, and I'm guessing you wouldn't get them there in a large-screen format. (Inland Empire inspired my first blog post, here.)

SAT. 8/4, 12 noon DTC: Those Were the Days by my friend Adam Bork, part of the You Should Meet My Family! Compilation. “No explanations or meanings for said piece are available. It has been made and now it exists.” I'll just add, it's got mannequins and dunes.

SAT. 8/4, 12 noon DTC: Strange Culture by Lynn Hershman Lesson. If you don't know about this already, you need to. In May of 2004, artist Steve Kurtz woke to find his wife dead of heart failure and called 911. The police looked at his art works, which included harmless microbe specimens, and called the FBI. The FBI charged Kurtz with bioterrorism. Actors Thomas Jay Ryan and Tilda Swinton play the Kurtzes, while Kurtz himself appears in interviews.

SAT. 8/4, 12:45PM DTC: Here is Always Somewhere Else by Rene Daalder. The life and work of Dutch/Californian conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader, who in 1975 disappeared under mysterious circumstances at sea in the smallest boat ever to cross the Atlantic. As seen through the eyes of fellow emigrant filmmaker Rene Daalder, the picture becomes a sweeping overview of contemporary art films as well as an epic saga of the transformative powers of the ocean. Featuring artists Tacita Dean, Rodney Graham, Marcel Broodthaers, Ger van Elk, Charles Ray, Wim T. Schippers, Chris Burden, Fiona Tan, Pipilotti Rist, and many others.

SAT. 8/4, 2PM DTC: Idiot Joy Showland, also wrangled by me. It’s a jam-packed art video compilation co-curated by John Pilson and Claudia Altman-Siegel (and presented by Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, NY). Shorts by 28 artists, including "stars" such as Cindy Sherman and Doug Aitken as well as not-yet-as-well-knowns, exploring a wide array of subjects and strategies. You won't believe how much good stuff this comp. includes. Total run time ca. 115 min. Includes Fragments from an Abandoned Cinema presented by Peggy Ahwesh, Makin’ Love in the Sunshine by Guy Richards Smit, Famous Quotes from Art History by Michael Smith, Doll Clothes by Cindy Sherman, Untitled video by Guy Ben-Ner, Rehearsal Behavior 1 by Alix Pearlstein, Lollypop by Kalup Linzy, The Results of Energy Neither being Created Nor Destroyed on a Sunny Day by James Yamada, Fear of Blushing by Jennifer Reeves, If I Wasn’t Me I Would Be You by Harrell Fletcher, Wing Bowl by Jenny Drumgoole, PleasePleasePlease by Kathy Spade, Crush Collision by Chris Larson, Sleepwalkers by Doug Aitken, 29 Palms: Brief by An-My Le, North of the Rug Fibers by Christopher Miner, Lower East Side Bike Drumroll (excerpt) by Kristin Lucas, My Father Breathing into a Mirror by Neil Goldberg, Harold Boner by Larry Clark, House Burning by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, life like by Aida Ruilova, Review by Jenny Perlin, You Won’t Remember This by Jeff Scher, Don’t You Want Somebody to Love You by Laurel Nakadate, Softcore by Rodney Graham, Hic et Ubique by John Pilson, and Art of Awakening by Meiro Koizumi.

SAT. 8/4, 3PM DTC: Lunch Films by various artists. A series of films commissioned by Mike Plante. He'd buy a filmmaker lunch, with the debt to be repaid with a film of the same cost. It started by accident and necessity; since then, 28 shorts have been eaten. Terms based on whatever was discussed at lunch were written on a napkin contract. Buy an artist lunch today.

SAT. 8/4, 4PM DTC: Black White + Gray by James Crump. An examination of the life of Sam Wagstaff, an influential curator, collector, and force in the art world, this film explores Wagstaff's strong bonds with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Director Crump served as curator of photography at the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research.

SAT. 8/4, 4PM DTC: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Jem Cohen. A brilliant interpretation of Patti Smith's cover of the song originally recorded by Nirvana. Totally f---ing gorgeous; Patti wields a guitar like an AK-47; The Matrix meets Deliverance. (Compare and contrast Paul Anka's cover here; no, don't; just watch Cohen's several more times.) [UPDATE: I liked this piece so much that I ended up writing a 6,000-word analysis of it, here.]

SAT. 8/4, 5:30 DTC: A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory. No further info provided; I’ll be there.

SAT. 8/4, 8PM DTC: Chicken Delight by Bryan Konefsky, in the Corporation Nation Compilation. An exploration of America's love affair with radioactivity: irradiated lunch meat, radioactive nail polish, radium suppositories sold as a precursor to Viagra, etc.

SAT. 8/4, 8PM DTC: Copyright, Culture (Remixed): Volume 3, Illegal Art by Rebekah Farrugia. A media prof. questions the boundaries of U.S. copyright law by focusing on artists who borrow from images in the mainstream media. Using as a backdrop the traveling exhibit, Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age, Farrugia illustrates through artist interviews how remixed CNN footage of George W. Bush, the Teletubbies, altered photos of corporate signs, and Pez dispensers for fallen rappers can be recombined to create unique, original work transcending the rights of prior copyright holders.

SAT. 8/4, 8PM DTC: war_machine by Deven James Langston. “war_machine is a simplified, biased view of the systematic and mechanical structure I see in the United States. It is not a linear video, but rather an interactive, continuously looping animation. It aims at nothing more than to bring the viewer's attention to the idea of representing the life cycle in a very rigid and graphical manner.”

SUN. 8/5, 5:30 PM DTC: Fat Girls by Ash Christian. A theater-obsessed gay teen and his overweight best friend embark on a journey of discovery that leads from smalltown America to the Great White Way. Score by my friend John Dufilho and the Deathray Davies, including the infamous, "Danette is the Bomb."

SUN. 8/5, 6:45 PM DTC: Video Sketches by Rusty Scruby (courtesy of (PanAmerican Projects), wrangled by moi. Scruby was trained as an aerospace engineer but traded that career for art, developing a technique for weaving 3-D paintings from thousands of precisely-cut pieces of photographs and sketches. He recently made these short videos as experiments to illustrate the abstract relationships he uses in synthesizing "a new visual and musical language.” Followed by Quin Mathews' documentary about Scruby and his work.

SUN. 8/5, 7PM DTC: Rusty Scruby: Beyond the Plane. Filmmaker Quin Mathews follows Scruby around, documenting his unique method of creating art. Quin's an accomplished documentarian; this is my favorite of his films that I’ve seen.

SUN. 8/5, 8PM DTC: Who is Bozo Texino? by Bill Daniel. (those of you who came to the recent series at Conduit may have noticed Daniel is the one who discovered the lost footage of Pie Fight ‘69.) "This travel adventure, faithfully photographed in black and white at considerable risk from speeding freight trains and in secret hobo jungles, in the dogged pursuit of the impossibly convoluted story of the heretofore untold history of the century-old folkloric practice of hobo and railworker graffiti and the absurd quest for the true identity of railroading's greatest artist, will likely amuse and confound you in its sincere attempt to understand and preserve this artform" [de-emphasis supplied].

SUN. 8/5, 9PM DTC: The Texas Show. This independently-juried compilation showcases the best submissions connected to Texas.


All-Day Passes range from $10 (weeknights) to $25 (weekends)
All-Festival Pass & -Party Access: $150
All-Festival Pass: $80
All-Festival Pass for VAD Members: $60
Most Individual Programs: $7.50 (not available for all programs, door only)
Special event ticket to El Automóvile Gris (presented by the Dallas Video Festival, Vistas Film Festival, and the Asian Film Festival Dallas): $25
Discounts available to community partners, seniors and students.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.acteva.com/go/videofest.

To join, donate, or for more info, go to www.videofest.org.

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