Tag Archives: Festival Jurors

News about long time juror John DeSando

Here’s a press release about long time CIF+VF juror (and former Board Member) John DeSando:

Columbus Film Critics Win National Honors

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – April 22, 2010 – At the Los Angeles Press Club’s third annual National Entertainment Journalism Awards ceremony on Thursday evening, John DeSando and Kristin Dreyer Kramer, co-hosts of WCBE 90.5 FM weekly film review shows, It’s Movie Time and On the Marquee, were recognized for excellence in radio film criticism.

The pair’s hour-long 2009 year in review special received the award for the year’s best radio feature, topping entries from California stations KCRW and KUSC.  In commenting on the show, the LA Press Club judges said, “Sometimes film critics far from the two coasts are said to be too distant from Hollywood and too quick to praise mediocre films to create a quotable blurb. Here, John DeSando and Kristin Dreyer Kramer rip into the 2009 film season with relish, comparing the poor crop to a frigid winter. They find 2009 to be a ‘Movie dead zone’ filled with ‘lethargic adventures,’ ‘deadly dull’ features and ‘mind-numbing dramas.’ By the end of this deliciously rude hour-long romp, in which they also praise their favorite films and the best unknown films of 2009, you’re cheering them.”

DeSando and Kramer were also awarded 3rd place honorable mention for radio critic of the year, behind KCRW’s Pulitzer winner Joe Morgenstern and Matt Holzman.

It’s Movie Time features reviews of some of the week’s new theatrical releases.  It airs on WCBE every Friday at 3:01 and 8:01 pm and has recently been made available for syndication through Public Radio Exchange at PRX.org.  On the Marquee, an overview of the week’s theatrical and video releases, airs on Sunday mornings at 9:01.  Both shows also stream on-demand at WCBE.org.

In addition to hosting the shows, DeSando, an adjunct professor at Franklin University, and Kramer, editor-in-chief of NightsAndWeekends.com, share writing and producing responsibilities.

The National Entertainment Journalism Awards were founded in 2008 and recognize the finest work from US-based entertainment reporters and editors, and theater, film, and television critics in all media–print, radio, TV, and online.  For a complete list of winners, visit LAPressClub.org.

WCBE 90.5 FM, a broadcast service of Columbus Public Schools, has been serving the Central Ohio community with a mix of local and national news and information programming, balanced by an eclectic focus on diverse music programming produced locally, regionally, and nationally.

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Matt Meindl, Films Made By Hand

MM_Banner

A returning Festival juror, this year for the Animation division, Matt Meindl in his own words is a kind of “hodgepodge filmmaker.”

Matt’s films are self-conscious and quirky, often including the filmmaker himself through image, voice, or narrative. Matt and I each returned to our hometown of Columbus a few years ago, and met one another shortly thereafter.

As a part of an ongoing attempt at highlighting the talented personalities behind the Columbus International Film + Video Festival, I conducted this recent interview via email.

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Daniel King: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you’re currently doing.

Matt Meindl: Well, I’m very tall which makes it hard to find pants. When I was a teenager I started making monster movies with friends and eventually ended up at the University of Toledo, in the film/video program. The films I saw there by Chel White, Ann Marie Fleming and others really changed my idea of what a film could be and I began pushing myself to make work that was more personal and intricate.

I moved back to Columbus after graduating and have pretty much continued on that track. I’m currently trying to finish an experimental super 8 film that I’ve been shooting off and on for something like 5 years now called Inside Out/Side One. It’s a big nostalgic chunk of images and bits that are both old-timey and infinite. I’m trying to see how far I can take collage-style animation before I get bored with it. I’m also writing a new film about a regretful mummy.

Still from "Digital Underpants," by Matt Meindl (linked to streaming video)

Still from "Digital Underpants," by Matt Meindl (linked to streaming video)

DK: Your films blend a variety of visual languages, like stop motion 
animation, still images and eclectic film stock. Years ago, these 
were hallmarks of low budget filmmaking… but today it seems digital video is more economical than ever. What appeals to you about these practices?

MM: Yeah, I’m kind of a hodgepodge filmmaker. I’m always trying out different techniques and creating my own hybridized methods for animation, editing etc. The processes can be pretty tedious and shooting on 16mm and super 8 [film] may seem archaic but I think there is a certain look/feel/energy that is harder to achieve with digital media. Video is swell and cheap and practical but it’s also becoming more and more automated — which means that the results sometimes have less personality. But I’m not a total film purist; I shot Digital Underpants on HDV and I have all my film transferred to video for editing now.

So I sort of exploit what I like about both formats. I think it’s foolish to outright dismiss one or the other. People keep telling me that super 8 is disappearing but Kodak keeps releasing new stocks. In fact, there are more super 8 film stocks available now than in the 1970’s when the format was in its heyday!

DK: Recently you performed a live soundtrack to your film Mumble-Baby. That film strikes me as playful, but deeply personal… almost secretive. Can you tell me a bit about the imagery?

MM: Some of the imagery, especially the saturated sunset, was inspired by Richard Wright’s book “Uncle Tom’s Children” which I was reading at the time. Mumble-Baby was a student film that I made while I was both falling in love and listening to lots of prewar blues. So yeah, love and blues… two things that are emotionally resonant but also mysterious and elusive.

In the film, the wandering bluesman is always silhouetted in the distance, out of reach. You can never really get a handle on the blues because the world it grew out of is all but gone, which I guess makes it easy to romanticize. And love is even more intangible.

Still from "Mumble Baby," Matt Meindl

Still from "Mumble Baby," Matt Meindl

I think the playful aspects of the film come from using an optical printer to do the visual effects. Optical printing is an inexact science at best but can be great for experimentation.

I tried all kinds of techniques including multiple-exposure, bi-packing the film, re-photographing at different frame rates and blowing up super 8 to 16mm. I like to perform live music with it now because my singing on the original soundtrack is sort of embarrassing.

DK: Talk to me about where your recent film, T-Shirt of Me, comes from.

MM: T-shirt of Me is a super 8 comedy short with a pretty simple premise: what to do when someone gives you a t-shirt with a picture of your own face on it. It’s the idea that a lot of embarrassment and some grim social implications can arise from a silly novelty gift. Such a thing has never happened to me exactly but I have been in plenty of awkward situations that I over-analyzed to the point of ridiculousness, much like the main character (played by Natalie Lloyd) does.

The story came from Lyn Elliot, who teaches film at Penn State. We’d never met but I had seen her shorts at film festivals and thought they were uniquely funny. I read somewhere that she was interested in writing for other people so I contacted her, thinking we’d be a good creative match.

She emailed me the story and I wrote the screenplay from that so it was sort of a correspondence collaboration. I also showed Lyn an early version of the film and she suggested several cuts be made which improved things greatly.

T-shirt of Me recently screened at the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Boston Underground Film Festival and got an Honorable Mention at The United States Super 8 + Digital Video Festival.

DK: Do you know if Lyn saw any of your short films before writing the story? The subject seems well suited to your visual language.

MM: I mailed her a DVD with a few of my films so that she could decide if I was someone she wanted to work with. She hadn’t previously seen any of my shorts. And yeah, there is definitely a similar sensibility in our work. We both find humor in the mundane.

“Filmmaking used to feel like an imaginary friend but now it’s more like a Siamese twin.” – Matt Meindl

DK: If I handed you a million dollars today, how would you spend it?

MM: I ate lunch with Peter Kubelka once when he visited UT and he told me very politely, “You cannot earn a living making experimental films.” I put down my sandwich.

Kubelka is a significant avant-garde filmmaker whose work is preserved in the Library of Congress and even he has a hard time paying the bills.

So I have no grand illusions about making much money at this. I’m beginning to apply for grants and residencies but I’ll keep making films the way I want regardless ‘cause it’s too much fun and I’ve got lots to learn still. Filmmaking used to feel like an imaginary friend but now it’s more like a Siamese twin. Also, if you gave me a million dollars I’d take you out to Red Lobster. My treat.

DK: What have you seen in terms of the local film production community in Columbus?

MM: I can’t tell if Columbus’ film culture is expanding or if I’m just getting out more, but it does seem like there is a fair amount of new work being made and screened here. There are people making professional-quality (at least technically) shorts and features, trying to compete in the global film market. There are folks creating video art, installations and experimental work. I fall somewhere in between the two. In fact, I do a lot of my shooting alone in my apartment, hunched over my rickety animation stand. I think that sorta keeps me on the fringe of things, for better or worse.

My friend Sean McHenry is someone I like working with. I’m also a fan of Stacie Sells and Cassie Troyan who you recently interviewed.

There are other interesting people with fine arts backgrounds who are getting into filmmaking now and doing cool things. I’d like to believe that there is at least some degree of mutual respect among all of these folks as we’re all fighting a lot of the same battles for creation and community support.

DK: Filmmaking is often a highly collaborative process, requiring many hands to make short work of a huge multi-spindled beast. You’re willing to go it alone. Can you talk to me about the creative benefits of working alone in your studio?

MM: Films like Digital Underpants and Inside Out/Side One were made with no script or structure in mind. I was just going on feeling and instinct. And as I filmed I began to see a movie forming and tried to follow it to a satisfying end. Working off-the-cuff like that is much easier to do alone.

I can just start and stop when I want, shoot more weeks or months later when ideas come, work weird hours or holidays etc. It’s not that unusual, really. I think a lot of experimental filmmakers tend to be fairly autonomous.

Now, for scripted narratives like T-shirt of Me I do assemble a cast and crew because that’s a different kind of production process where you very much need lots of extra hands and brains. Those shoots tend to be more memorable ’cause of the friendships that develop and the creative energy that everyone drums up. And sometimes there’s catering.

DK: What keeps you creatively motivated when the energy runs low, or the money runs out?

MM: If I’m feeling low or lazy I might work on some element of a film that’s just busy-work like cutting out pictures or digitizing footage. That way I can still get a little something done each day. Working by myself on animated stuff is actually a great way to keep from going broke because it’s such a slow process and there’s so much for me to do that I can barely shoot more than a roll or two a month. So my expenses get spread out over several months or more. I do have to be careful though ’cause I pay for everything outta my own pocket.

Screenings & More:

T-shirt of Me will be screening at the Brooklyn Lyceum on July 10th as part of a Flicker NYC show (Flicker NYC)

Digital Underpants will be included in the Journal of Short Film, Volume 15 which is produced locally, available now, and includes works from 6 other filmmakers from around the world. (Journal of Short Filmhttp://www.thejsf.org/) (PS dear readers, an interview with its publisher coming soon!)

Matt’s MySpace filmmaker page: Updated list of screenings, DVD’s for sale, or watch selections of his shorts.

You won’t regret supporting a local filmmaker by picking up Matt’s DVD of T-Shirt of Me & Digital Underpants (in much higher, crystal clear resolution than the myspace versions) thru his Myspace page.

FACEBOOK – Befriend Matt at Facebook.com/optyprinty

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OH! intro: New Jurors are Filmmakers Too

Coup de Foudre from Stacie Sells on Vimeo.

    An interview with festival jurors Stacie Sells and Cassie Troyan.

    This is a first installment, of a new series of profiles and interviews with festival staff, board members, and volunteers. Stacie Sells joins the festival as the Chair of the Social Issues division. She will be working closely with a team of jurors, including Cassie Troyan, throughout the summer leading to the festival event season which kicks off September 09.

OH!Film: Congratulations on joining the festival, and thank you for offering your time for this interview. Lets start with an introduction. Give me some context.

Cassandra Troyan: In terms of interests, I feel there are hundreds of different facets which inform my practice as an artist. I enjoy the work of philosopher Gilles Deleuze, appreciating cinema in general, (especially Eastern-European, French New Wave, German Expressionism, silent film, and musicals,) studying languages, and traveling abroad.

Stacie Sells: I am a recent graduate of The Ohio State University who majored in Art and Technology with a focus on more experimental video art. There isn’t a film or video program at OSU. I had to create my own by picking classes that lead me to my interests, such as the class in 1960s Avant-garde and Film Theory. This led to my recent obsession in the “old school” 1940 musicals.

OH!Film: Your film “Coup de Foudre” screened at this years Athens Film Festival as part of the Experimental Abstractions program in April.

CT: In “Coup de Foudre,” the initial intention aimed at using more personally aggressive actions as a way to subjectification, by acknowledging, then conquering stereotypes of femininity. For example, at one point I take a roll of saran-wrap and begin to bind my head with it until I can no longer breathe. Such an action suggests the silencing of women and removal of voice, although in the end with my tearing through the layers, it is representative of claiming a place from which to speak.

Still from Coup de Foudre

Still from Coup de Foudre

This sort of confrontation also occurs in the scene where the Jackalope character methodically descends a staircase, nude from the waist down. Even though this displays a partially nude female form, it is portrayed in a way in which the figure refuses just to stand docilely and be observed. By descending the staircase, and approaching the viewer below, the character situates herself in a place of movement and control. Culminating in the final filmic sequence, these ideas solidify through an intense montage of women experiencing different modes of violent control.

The German phrase written on outstretched arms, “Du weißt nicht, wogegen ich anzukämpfen habe” meaning, “You don’t know what I’m up against,” reaffirms each encounter as an affect which women face daily in society. The very last scene transgresses beyond assumptions of frailty, or women viewed purely as objects of desire, with a female form emanating brightness and declaring a position as an active subject.

SS: What else can I can say after that great explanation? This film is to bring front the issues we both strongly agree on and want to bring into the consciousness of the typical viewer.

OH!Film: This was a project in which you two collaborated. What did each of you bring to the table?

CT: This was very much a collaborative effort, and for me, even though the theoretical aspects might have leaned heavier in my direction, Stacie and I still shared a united vision with these elements. What works best within our process is that Stacie often helps me further realize esoteric ideas in aesthetic terms. We are currently working on Part II of the trilogy, and our collaboration is becoming even more egalitarian as we are now both, shooting, editing, and appearing within this video.

Still from Coup de Foudre

Still from Coup de Foudre

SS: I also believe that we worked equally on the video. Cassie sought me out initially, as she was searching to work with someone who was interested in the issue of how images socialize us within society, and especially how that relates to women. With Cassie’s vision it was more directly focused with her ideas in relation to the concrete image, but often I would take those ideas and interpret them through abstract imagery. I learned that within this collaborative process we were able to push each other’s ideas further than we might have been able to on our own.

OH!Film: Whats your take on film in Columbus?

CT: Sadly, I think it’s a little disappointing. I believe there are many venues for opportunities that have not been explored. One of the goals that Stacie and I actually have is to create/inhabit a space once a month to give video/film artists in Columbus a chance to exhibit their work.

SS: We are hoping to have the first showing some time in June. Depending on the success, hopefully it will become a reoccurring event that will provide a productive atmosphere or community that fosters feedback and support.

OH!Film: What else is there, besides video and film?

CT: At the moment, I’m working to help other artists through collaborative efforts. This is all part of a project called the Embodied Knowledge Ensemble and Volunteer Corps, initiated by Ann Hamilton’s and Michael Mercil’s graduate seminar. It is an especially exciting course because it allows for an interdisciplinary atmosphere by including students from the art dept., dance, etc. I also enjoy bike riding, playing racquetball, and baking bread.

SS: A few days out of the week I teach art classes up in Powell to all ages of children. I also have a local cottage industry business with my sister where we make mini cupcakes and sell to local customers called Little Darlin Cupcakes. I try to connect as much as I can in the art world with people in different areas of study and interest to expand my scope in the art world and show that we are all able to connect and work with one another.

OH!Film: Anything else you want to share?

SS: Our film on Vimeo!

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