Archive for the ‘Cinema’ Category

Proimágenes

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Cinema

http://www.proimagenescolombia.com/secciones/pantalla_colombia/estrenos_dvd.php

El Fondo Mixto de Promoción Cinematográfica “PROIMAGENES COLOMBIA” es una entidad sin ánimo de lucro, enmarcada en el régimen de las actividades de ciencia y tecnología y de las entidades privadas, e integrada por entidades públicas y privadas según el ,mandato de la ley 397 de 1997, ley General de Cultura.

PROIMAGENES COLOMBIA busca consolidar y solidificar el sector cinematográfico colombiano, convirtiéndose en un escenario privilegiado para la concertación de políticas públicas y sectoriales, y para la articulación de reglas del juegoque concreten e impulsen la industria cinematográfica del país

PROIMAGENES COLOMBIA administra el Fondo para el Desarrollo Cinematográfico – FDC del que usted encontrará toda la información en esta página.

A partir de un amplio catálogo de películas, PROIMAGENES COLOMBIA se ha convertido en el mediador por excelencia de la filmografía colombiana en mercados internacionales y nacionales. Además promueve el intercambio de tecnologías y recursos humanos, actividades de investigación, formación y coordinador de encuentros, muestras y festivales relacionados con el cine.Desde 2006. con la autorización de su junta directiva, desarrolla todas las gestiones para operar en Colombia una Comisión Fílmica (Film Commission) que sirva como un medio de intermediación y facilitación que ponga en contacto a todos los sectores cinematográficos, turístico y otros necesarios con todas aquellas personas que estén interesadas en coproducir  con el país o filmar en el.

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by themovieblogger

http://themovieblog8.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/60best/

Today, we continue the Best of the Decades feature. Four down, five to go. This week, I graciously present my picks for the ten best films from the 1960s, and you graciously tell me I mention Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock too much. But don’t worry, this will, sadly, be the last week I’ll have them on my lists. Enjoy and feel free to comment with your own picks.

10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

When we talk about large or small movies today, it’s usually a clear-cut no-fuss discussion. Battle of Los Angeles: big. The Kids Are All Right: small. But it wasn’t always this way. Take, for your consideration, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This film was both broad (in the good, non-Whitney way) and detail-oriented. Oh, and that soundtrack. It gets me every time. Runner-ups:CharadeThe Pink PantherPlaytime, and That Darn Cat!.

9. The Birds

And the madness begins. Long ago, on a now-defunct feature called “Required Viewing,” I called The Birds “truly terrifying” and I said that all Hitchcock’s best films rely on a “degree of coincidence.” I don’t usually like coincidence, but I never seemed to mind it when Hitch did it. Just look atNorth by Northwest, a film that even I think is as flimsy as a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson. Somehow, though, that film works. And while the birds the movie was named after might not be as real as the character Jessica Tandy lays down here, the coincidence factor and the film itself both work too.

8. A Shot in the Dark

A Shot in the Dark is the best (and probably my favorite) Clouseau/Pink Panther film. You’ve got “sex” scenes with bombs in them, nudist colonies with too few guitars, and hilarious murders galore in this 1964 comedy classic. When and if I ever make a top comedies list, A Shot in the Dark will be high on it.

7. Planet of the Apes

An oldie but an iconic goodie. 1968′s Planet and 2011′s Rise are two very different films in tone, but suspiciously follow basically the same plot arc.

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey

An interesting comparison for 2001: A Space Odyssey is The Tree of Life. I wasn’t sure what was going on 100% of the time in either movie, but I’m so very glad I sat and watched them all the way through. What happened to Keir Dullea, though? Did he not ever have a career?

5. The Manchurian Candidate

Speaking of interesting comparisons, I think The Manchurian Candidate makes an incredible companion piece with one of the following picks. If you’ve seen both the films, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

4. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A classic. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the best western of all-time (no,Meek’s Cutoff is not an appropriate selection). I have never seen it all the way through until last year, despite having seen certain parts more than 10 times each. Clint Eastwood does more with silence than anyone, and his silences are on display here.

3. The Apartment

The second best final line in a Wilder film

Yes, another Billy Wilder. The Apartment is one of his best two films, and it goes from wildly satirical to beautifully dark in an instant, then switches back and forth as it pleases. Baxter’s “friends” at work are great, but the neighbors are the best.

2. Psycho

“I’m so glad Community is back.”

Psycho was my favorite film before I discovered Some Like it Hot, and I still really love it. But, I must admit, there is one sixties film that is better. And that film is…

1. A Hard Day’s Night

If we’re comparing these films to the film of the last calendar year, which I have already done to 2001: A Space Odyssey (with The Tree of Life), then why not just say that A Hard Day’s Night was the 60s’ The Artist? It’s black-and-white; it’s old school, but still manages to be fresh and somewhat innovative; it allows its characters to breathe and come to life on screen; and I love and will defend them both.

Anthropologist Nicholas Conard (left) and filmmaker Werner Herzog examine artifacts from the Chauvet caves in southern France.
Anthropologist Nicholas Conard (left) and filmmaker Werner Herzog examine artifacts from the Chauvet caves in southern France.
April 20, 2011

In 1994, three French cave explorers discovered hundreds of prehistoric paintings and engravings on the walls of the Chauvet Cave in southern France.

Carbon dating has since shown that the depictions of rhinoceroses, lions, cave bears, horses, bison, mammoths and other animals are between 30,000 and 32,000 years old.

That doesn’t mean the ancient drawings are any less sophisticated than what artists create today, says filmmaker Werner Herzog.

“Art … as it bursts on the scene 32,000 years ago, is fully accomplished. It doesn’t start with ‘primitive scribblings’ and first attempts like children would make drawings,” Herzog says. “It’s absolutely and fully accomplished.”

The acclaimed German director, who has produced, written and directed more than 40 films, gained exclusive access to the Chauvet caves. He tells their story and the story of the world’s oldest cave paintings in The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a 3-D documentary film.

“Since early adolescence, I have been fascinated by cave paintings,” Herzog tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “It actually was my personal intellectual awakening … and shook me to the core — seeing an image of a horse [from the] prehistoric Stone Age. I couldn’t believe it.”

Part of Herzog’s interest in the paintings, he says, is the knowledge that tens of thousands of years ago, humans had the instinct to make art in order to represent the world around them.

“It is strange and very significant that all of a sudden, we have the presence of what I would call ‘the modern human soul,’ ” he says. “Neanderthal man actually did not have all of this, and other civilizations did not have it. And earlier human beings did not represent the world in figurative means — paintings and sculptures and so on.”

Herzog was only permitted to enter the caves for one week of filming.

Filming Inside The Chauvet Caves

Making a documentary inside the Chauvet caves was a difficult endeavor — in part because the cave has so many restrictions. All visitors are required to obtain permission from the regional French government and wear protective body suits to prevent the spread of bacteria and biological growth within the cave. Herzog had to convince both government officials and scientists that he would film inside the cave for only one week.

“I was only allowed [in the cave] for four hours a day,” Herzog recalls. “I was only allowed three men with me. I was only allowed to carry along what we could in our hands. So we couldn’t move heavy equipment in there. [I could only bring] lights that would emit light without any temperature. And, of course, you never step off the metal walkway.”

The men who accompanied Herzog into the cave are frequently seen in the film’s final footage, mainly because they could never leave the metal walkway. But seeing the drawings inside the cave, Herzog says, made all of the restrictions worthwhile.

“[The first time I saw the drawings], it was just a moment of complete awe,” he says. “I was not prepared for the fact that the cave was so beautiful. It’s like crystal cathedrals and stalactites and stalagmites and just like a fairy tale universe down there, and I was not prepared. … Facing the paintings, it’s just sheer awe how beautiful and how accomplished they are.”

Interview Highlights

On what the cave smelled and felt like

“It’s slightly humid. … There is a plan to re-create the cave outside in some sort of what I called the Disneyland version. Since nobody’s going to be allowed in the cave, they will replicate the entire cave. They’ll replicate the paintings on the walls. And there was even a plan to re-create, in our imagination, the scent inside of the cave. Which means maybe some carrion of rotting cave bears, some fire, some … resins. I’ve found a master perfumer who fantasize[s] wildly about how the odor may have been 32,000 years ago. However, when you are entering there, it is slightly humid. There’s no significant traces of any smell of anything significant in there.”

On shooting in 3-D

“When I saw photos, it looked almost like flat walls — maybe slightly undulating or so. Thank God, I went in there without any camera a month before shooting. What you see in there is limestone, and you have these wildly undulating walls — you have bulges and niches and pendants of rock, and there’s a real incredible drama of information. The artists utilized it for their paintings. … So it was clear it was imperative to do this in 3-D, in particular, because we were the only ones ever allowed to film.”

On how Fred Astaire footage wound up in the documentary

“Arguably, or for me, the greatest single sequence in all of film history [is] Fred Astaire dancing with his own shadows, and all of a sudden he stops and the shadows become independent and dance without him and he has to catch up with them. It’s so quintessential movie. It can’t get more beautiful. It’s actually from Swing Time [1938]. And when you look at the cave and certain panels, there’s evidence of some fires on the ground. They’re not for cooking. They were used for illumination. You have to step in front of these fires to look at the images, and when you move, you must see your own shadow. And immediately, Fred Astaire comes to mind — who did something 32,000 years later which is essentially what we can imagine for early Paleolithic people.”

Related NPR Stories

MAQUILAPOLIS [city of factories]

Posted: March 28, 2011 in Cinema

http://www.maquilapolis.com/project_eng.htmA film by Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre

A co-production of the Independent Television Service (ITVS).
A project of Creative Capital.
This film was supported by a grant from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.

THE FILM

Carmen works the graveyard shift in one of Tijuana’s maquiladoras, the multinationally-owned factories that came to Mexico for its cheap labor. After making television components all night, Carmen comes home to a shack she built out of recycled garage doors, in a neighborhood with no sewage lines or electricity. She suffers from kidney damage and lead poisoning from her years of exposure to toxic chemicals. She earns six dollars a day. But Carmen is not a victim. She is a dynamic young woman, busy making a life for herself and her children.

As Carmen and a million other maquiladora workers produce televisions, electrical cables, toys, clothes, batteries and IV tubes, they weave the very fabric of life for consumer nations. They also confront labor violations, environmental devastation and urban chaos — life on the frontier of the global economy. In MAQUILAPOLIS, Carmen and her colleague Lourdes reach beyond the daily struggle for survival to organize for change: Carmen takes a major television manufacturer to task for violating her labor rights. Lourdes pressures the government to clean up a toxic waste dump left behind by a departing factory.

As they work for change, the world changes too: a global economic crisis and the availability of cheaper labor in China begin to pull the factories away from Tijuana, leaving Carmen, Lourdes and their colleagues with an uncertain future.

THE PROCESS

To create MAQUILAPOLIS, the filmmakers brought together factory workers in Tijuana and community organizations in Mexico and the U.S. to collaborate on a film that depicts globalization through the eyes of the women who live on its leading edge. The factory workers who appear in the film have been involved in every stage of production, from planning to shooting, from scripting to outreach. This collaborative process breaks with the traditional documentary practice of dropping into a location, shooting and leaving with the “goods,” which would only repeat the pattern of the maquiladora itself. The process embraces subjectivity as a value and a goal. It merges artmaking with community development to ensure that the film’s voice will be truly that of its subjects.

THE OUTREACH CAMPAIGN

We are currently seeking funding to implement a binational Community Outreach Campaign, designed and implemented collaboratively with stakeholder organizations in the U.S. and Mexico. The campaign utilizes a high-profile public television broadcast, top tier film festivals and community screenings of the film to create meaningful social change around the issues of globalization, social and environmental justice and fair trade. Our outreach team includes dedicated activists on both sides of the border, mediamakers commited to social change, and most importantly a group of women factory workers struggling to bring about positive change in their world.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=3401277500988865555&hl=en&fs=true

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maquilapolis

The best short films on the web

Posted: December 27, 2010 in Cinema

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/dec/19/short-films-documentary-animation-viral

From attention-grabbing promos to thoughtful documentaries, a new crop of directors is creating innovative and daring pictures that are cheap to make, easy to share, and finding an audience as never before. Here, we speak to those responsible for some of the best

Killian Fox
The Observer, Sunday 19 December 2010
Article history

Are we in the middle of a short‑film revolution? Not long ago, if you wanted to catch short work by exciting new film-makers, you had to travel to a festival, hunt down a compilation on DVD, catch a charitable showing on TV or, if you were uncommonly lucky, before the main feature at the cinema. Now all you have to do, assuming you have internet access and a passing familiarity with video-hosting websites, is switch on your computer.

The curious thing about short films is that, regardless of audience and financial incentive, people have continued to make them with great enthusiasm. This is in part because the short has come to be viewed as a practice space for student film-makers or a calling card to show that those involved are fit to make a “proper” film, ie a feature. But shorts can be much more than exercises or glorified showreels; innovative, daring, thought-provoking things can be done in two minutes – or 12 or 22 – that simply wouldn’t work at feature length.

The past decade has seen an explosion of video online. The rise of YouTube and more high-brow sharing sites such as Vimeo means that, now, the humble short has a mainstream, global audience. A film that strikes a chord can be watched by hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, who will offer feedback and support and perhpas recommend it to their friends.

Many film-makers still balk at the idea of putting their work on the internet, but the advantages are hard to ignore, even if it means forfeiting revenue to gain publicity. This is excellent news for audiences. The sheer volume of short films that can be watched for free online will make your head spin. Inevitably, a lot of it ranges from the bad to the ugly, but there is more than enough good out there to make the search worthwhile.

This selection, compiled over months of viewing, aims to represent not just the quality of what’s on offer from a new generation of web-savvy film-makers, but also the variety. As traditional shorts mingle with other types of video online, it’s becoming more difficult to define what constitutes a short film. Music videos are adopting increasingly complex themes and sophisticated narratives. Commercials play like miniature movies, with branding banished to the margins. Spike Jonze’s latest short, I’m Here, is an affecting 30-minute piece about robot love and sacrifice in LA that happens to be funded by a vodka company.

“When you get sent something or discover something on the internet, you don’t necessarily go, ‘Oh look, that’s a short film,'” says Fabien Riggall, founder of the global short-film network Future Shorts. “My feeling that short film is music video, documentary, viral, animation, branded content…”

The internet isn’t just expanding our notion of what short films are, it’s also influencing how many film-makers work. This can be seen as a profoundly exciting development, but it also gives rise to cynicism. Recent studies have shown that the average viewer spends less than one minute per clip on YouTube. So how do films compete in this clamorous environment? Typically, by grabbing the viewer’s attention within the first 30 seconds and not letting go. Sex helps, as do gimmicks and the willingness to shock. Does this mean it’s a survival of the loudest and most outrageous?

Not necessarily. Some film-makers have very cannily embraced the fickleness of online culture, turning the manipulation of short attention spans into art. Spike Jonze, who started off making music videos for similarly fickle MTV audiences in the 90s, is a prime example. Others include Keith Schofield, whose work can be brazenly cynical yet still feels distinctive, new and exciting.

Another response is to make films that are ultra-short but so packed with detail that they demand to be watched over and over. Work by directors such as PES seems tailormade for the computer screen, where you can take a closer look, and pause, and replay, until all the details have been satisfactorily unpacked.

You don’t always have to raise your voice, or flash some skin, or cut yourself short, to create a buzz online. Peter and Ben is a contemplative, slow-moving and charming mini-documentary about a man and a sheep and has been watched more than 300,000 times on YouTube. “How many festivals would you have to show at to get that many viewers?” wonders its director, Pinny Grylls.

THE MICRO-DOC

Peter and Ben

Director: Pinny Grylls, UK, 2007

When a video becomes an online hit, racking up views in the hundreds of thousands, it usually ticks a number of boxes – short, snappy, attention-grabbing. If it contains comedy, sex or violence, that’s a bonus. What you don’t expect an online hit to involve is a reclusive, grey-bearded man in the Welsh mountains and his friendship with a nonconformist sheep. “It’s a gentle, lyrical film,” says Pinny Grylls, the director of Peter and Ben, which has attracted more than 300,000 views since it was uploaded two years ago. “I don’t know who these viewers are.”

Grylls, 32, cut her teeth making short documentaries for the Arts Council’s Creative Partnerships programme. Peter and Ben was a project she nurtured over several years and completed with funding from the UK Film Council. “Peter is an old friend of the family who became a recluse 30 years ago,” says Grylls. “I’ve always thought he was extraordinary.” Out of all the footage she shot of Peter, Grylls picked out the story of his relationship with Ben. “This sheep is more like his friend than a pet. The story is really simple, but universal in a quirky way: the son not wanting to join the flock, but eventually joining and the father not wanting him to.”

The film has won prizes and numerous accolades, not least from German director Werner Herzog, who awarded it first prize in a competition run by British film community Shooting People, remarking: “The soul of the sheep is inside the man and soul of the man is inside the sheep.” That, says Grylls, a huge Herzog fan, “was the greatest day of my life”.

She has mixed feelings, however, about the current state of short films. “There has been a lot of excitement about them recently, and it’s certainly growing, but short films haven’t become mainstream yet.” It all comes down to economics, she suggests. “You can’t really make a living out of them. It took an awful lot of effort to make Peter and Ben, but what money it made went straight back to the UK Film Council.”

Grylls now works primarily in television, although she sees the value of the internet as a platform. “You have a direct interface with your audience. They leave comments, which is amazing for a film-maker. I’ve had people email me from Korea, Afghanistan, saying how much they were touched by this film. You really get things back from people if you put work online.”

Grylls recommends The Apology Line by James Lees

THE SILENT SHORT

The Black Hole

Dir. Phil and Olly, UK, 2008

When your debut short film clocks up more than 8,000,000 views on YouTube, you’re bound to get some interesting feedback from the world. After London-based directing duo Phil Sansom and Olly Williams madeThe Black Hole, winner of the Virgin media shorts competition in 2008, emails were arriving from “pastors in Oklahoma wanting to show it as part of their sermon preaching about greed”. Kanye West gave it a shout-out, and a student doing work experience with them exclaimed: “You guys made that? They teach it at my film school as a perfect short film.”

Not bad for a wordless, one-man short that was shot in less than a day on borrowed equipment. “We lucked out with Napoleon Ryan,” says Sansom, referring to the actor playing the film’s sunken-eyed drone who, at the office photocopier one evening, makes a potentially lucrative discovery. “His facial expressions hold it all together.” Ryan is great to watch, certainly, but the ingeniously simple concept deserves credit too. Next up for Phil and Olly, who make ads and music promos for a living, is a 15-minute short called Archaeology, a grisly thriller about an archaeologist who digs up a live human being.

Phil and Olly recommend Lucky by Nash Edgerton and Two Cars, One Night by Taika Waititi

THE ANIMATED SHORT

http://player.vimeo.com/video/8527864<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/8527864″>Pigeon: Impossible</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user1777448″>Lucas Martell</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Pigeon: Impossible

Dir. Lucas Martell, US, 2008

Pigeon: Impossible began life as a sketch about a man struggling with a box – a simple exercise to teach Lucas Martell, a 23-year-old aspiring director from Illinois, how to animate in 3D. The exercise achieved its aim and then some, expanding into a five-year enterprise. On its completion, it was still essentially about a man and a box, only now the man is a Washington spy, the box is his highly armed military briefcase and between them stands a troublesome pigeon.What’s extraordinary about Pigeon: Impossible is that it’s a studio-quality short – you almost expect to see the Pixar logo on it – that was made with $10,000 and a lot of goodwill from an intern at a small animation company in Washington. Most of the budget was spent on the orchestral score. Martell estimates that if the six-minute film had been made professionally, with animators working at studio rates, it would have cost as much as $1.3m. 

“Most of the success of the film was due to the podcast,” says Martell, referring to a series of regular video posts on a dedicated website that he used to document the highs and lows of the process as the film was being made. “It helped build up a core base, so that once the film came out online, people who had been engaging with it watched it and told their friends.”

He decided to stream the film for free after a six-month festival run. “The main thing was to get as many people to see it as possible and hope that it would pay off in another project. The more people that see it, the more that is likely to happen.” The gamble looks like it’s paying off. Nearly 6 million people have seen the film online and Martell, now 29, has just been snapped up by the UK animation studio Partizan Lab.

Martell recommends Sebastian’s Voodoo by Joaquin Baldwin


THE VIRAL PROMO

Carousel

Dir. Adam Berg, Sweden, 2009

Two thoughts occur while watching Carousel, the award-winning short by Swedish promo director Adam Berg. The first tells you: this has got to be an ad. With its high production values, expensive effects and glossy finish, it belongs in a different tax bracket to other short films you see online. The second says: but this can’t be an ad. It has guns, explosions, killer clowns and dead cops.

Both thoughts are correct – kind of. Carousel is an example of a growing trend in film-making: the branded short film. High-profile directors such as David Lynch and Martin Scorsese have dabbled with the concept, usually at the behest of fashion houses. The results are often compromised by the brand association, or just not very good, but Berg’s film stands up – and you could watch it without knowing that it was commissioned by Philips to flog a line of widescreen TVs.

The premise – a frozen moment in the aftermath of a bank heist gone wrong, with a camera looping through the freeze-framed carnage – suggests it was fiendishly complex to make, but Berg executed it in a pleasingly analogue way. “People are standing still,” he laughs. “There was a bit of computer animation involved, but mostly it’s people hanging on wires.”

The film was shot in a single weekend in a gymnasium in Prague. Since it was a relatively small project, bound for the internet, Berg says he was given “a huge amount of freedom. You don’t have to follow broadcasting laws, so we could show guns and scary images”. Projects like this are still uncommon, but Berg hopes the trend will pick up. “I think this is the best way to work. You get funding as well as freedom to develop your own ideas. It’s great advertising, too. That’s the beauty of the internet. You really have to make something good to get people’s attention. You can’t just buy their time. You need to make them interested.”

Berg recommends Rupert Sanders’s spot for Halo ODST

THE MUSIC VIDEO

http://player.vimeo.com/video/7691034<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/7691034″>Charlotte Gainsbourg “Heaven Can Wait”</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/videotheque”>Beck Hansen</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Charlotte Gainsbourg “Heaven Can Wait” from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Heaven Can Wait, Charlotte Gainsbourg

Dir. Keith Schofield, US, 2009

When aspiring film-makers seek advice from Keith Schofield, viral mastermind and the brains behind this superlative Charlotte Gainsbourg promo, he gives them a very clear set of guidelines. “Find an upbeat band who want to do a music video and do it on spec. Do something fun, funny, provocative or R-rated. Ask yourself: what would make anyone want to email this clip to a friend? Take advantage of the fact that this won’t be playing on MTV – have stuff like nudity, violence, trademarked brands, etc…”

In other words, do what Schofield did at the start of his career with a little-known band called Wintergreen. On the back of 1 million views online in the days before YouTube, he landed his first commercial and went on to direct cool, clever promos for Supergrass and Fatboy Slim. He became (in)famous for his work on Diesel’s SFW campaign, one of the biggest-ever pieces of viral advertising, thanks to its enterprising marriage of pornography and MS Paint.

Schofield epitomises a new generation of digital-age film-makers, versed in pop culture, clued-up on advertising techniques, and not afraid to deploy gimmicks in order to make themselves heard over the internet babble. But his video for “Heaven Can Wait” is anything but gimmicky and it proves you also need film‑making talent if you want to stand out.

“The basic concept was to recreate 50 photos that I found online and cut between them every few seconds. I was really shocked when they went for it. My videos can usually be summed up pretty well on paper, like, ‘Here’s the gimmick.’ But something like this, where you ask the artist to trust the director that it’s going to be awesome – it took a real leap. I always thought it would be the greatest video I’d never get to make.”

Schofield recommends The work of Cyriak

THE CAMPAIGN FILM

Plastic Bag

Dir. Ramin Bahrani, US, 2009

“It seems like more people have seen this short film than any of my features,” laughs Ramin Bahrani, the young Iranian-American director ofChop Shop and Goodbye Solo whom US critic Roger Ebert named “director of the decade” last year. He’s talking about Plastic Bag, his strange and wonderful 18-minute film that follows the journey of a salmon-pink shopping bag from supermarket checkout to its final resting place in the Pacific trash vortex, via the home of its beloved “maker”. It was commissioned by Futurestates, a series of digital shorts promoting environmental awareness, but Bahrani wanted to make more than an agenda film. The result is unexpectedly poignant, and funny too, thanks in no small part to Werner Herzog, who gives the bag a human voice. What begins as a story about a talking piece of plastic ends up a deeply felt meditation on existence and one’s purpose in life. 

If you liked this… Check out The Majestic Plastic Bag, an eerily similar film voiced by Jeremy Irons, which cropped up online last month. Coincidence?

THE ACTION SHORT

Pixels

Dir. Patrick Jean, France, 2010

Short films made primarily for online consumption often share particular areas of fascination. One is video games: nostalgic nods to early classics crop up again and again. Another, in the wake of Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (and the short film it was based on, Alive in Joburg, is invasion by alien forces. Parisian director Patrick Jean combines the two preoccupations to dazzling and hilarious effect inPixels, his first proper short film. Here, the alien invaders are old video-game characters who explode out of a discarded monitor in a cloud of multicoloured pixels and proceed to terrorise New York. Space Invaders baddies zap yellow cabs, reducing them to blocks of graphics. Pac-Man chomps up dots on the subway map, causing stations to dematerialise. Colossal Tetris blocks wreak havoc on the Empire State Building. Before long, the whole world is one giant pixel block. Jean uploaded the film in April. Since then, the 32-year-old has been in conversation with the likes of Dreamworks and Sony Animation.

If you liked this… Watch giant robots invade Montevideo in Panic Attack! by Fede Alvarez

THE STOP-MOTION ANIMATION


 

Western Spaghetti

Dir. PES, US, 2008

“The internet is an intimate venue,” says Adam Pesapane, a 36-year-old New Jersey film-maker who makes short, smart, stop-motion animations under the name PES. “When I started putting work online, all films were 320 x 240 resolution and you had to really lean in to see them properly.” If you view Western Spaghetti from a distance, you might mistake it for a cookery video on how to make pasta with tomato sauce. Lean in a little closer and you’ll realise that nothing in PES’s world is quite as it seems.

The origin of Western Spaghetti was, according to Pesapane, “the idea of using Post-it notes for butter. I had used food as substitutes for other objects before, but I’d never made a film where other objects are substituted for food. Then I had another idea. My mother used to say good pasta should be firm and never rubbery. This is interesting because rubber bands look exactly like cooked spaghetti. And if that’s spaghetti, what’s uncooked spaghetti? So I began to play this game with myself.”

The game plays out across the whole recipe. The connections aren’t always obvious but they make peculiar sense in the film, even if you don’t get wise to PES’s arcane visual and verbal puns. “Garlic is played by Rubik’s Cube. Sea salt is played by googly eyes. Tin foil is used as oil…”

Most PES films are less than one minute long, but you could watchWestern Spaghetti 20 times and still not absorb every detail. “I wanted to make films that were rewatchable. In many ways, they are designed for a space that is clickable, where you can stop and take a closer look.”

When Pesapane made his first animation, Roof Sex, in 2001, he emailed it to 50 friends. “Two weeks later, I heard people talking about it in a bar. That was the point I realised the real power of the internet.” Thanks to his background in New York advertising, he has been able to exploit the viral video phenomenon online and turn his surrealistic hobby into a money-making operation (based on YouTube advertising revenue). But that’s not to say his films are insubstantial. Western Spaghetti was made over two painstaking months. “I work really hard for simplicity. I really treat this as an art. The internet is a democratic theatre and I have a notion that these films can exist online for centuries.”

PES recommends This “learn English” commercial that went viral back in the late 1990s [contains strong language]

ONES TO WATCH – MORE BITE-SIZED MASTERPIECES

Big Ideas: Don’t Get Any by James Houston

tinyurl.com/cjtwxm

Lo-fi, strange but highly original video cover version of Radiohead’s “Nude” by Glaswegian James Houston, with office equipment – scanner, printer, Sinclair Spectrum computer – filling in for the band.

Procrastination by John Kelly

tinyurl.com/6x6qmx

Charming, free-flowing animation by an Irish director about the distractions in everyday life that prevent us from getting any work done.

Show Stopper by Caroline Sascha Cogez

tinyurl.com/237442c

A promo for the Peaches song, this is an intriguing mix of fiction and reality from a former assistant to Lars von Trier. The documentary-style music video shows what happens when an uptight Copenhagen masseuse visits a provocative Canadian rock star with a penchant for PVC.