Program 8: Me and My Camera

La Tombola (Ximena Cuevas)

Cleverly conceived as the titular, cheaply produced, campy Mexican variety show as the video artist is among an odd assortment of guests that also include a flamboyant celebrity who owns a gaudy, ostentatious estate, an uninhibited exhibitionist who is eager to expose herself at the slightest prompting, and an uptight, conservative moralist, the artist serves as a reluctant witness to the attention-grubbing spectacle. In the end, Cuevas implicates the audience for the perpetuation of the media’s tabloid mentality by turning her unassuming DV camera towards the voyeuristic public.

 

The Guzzler of Grizzly Manor (George Kuchar)

A whimsical, lighthearted, but ultimately unremarkable video journal as the veteran video artist muses and often embellishes stories on his mundane travels through several states in support of the presentation of his work at film festivals.

 

Frozen War (John Smith)

Frozen War is another tedious, pointless, unneccesarily ponderous, and self-aggrandizing video journal as the artist speculates on the potential cause of a frozen, broadcasted image announcing the commencement of war in Afghanistan.

 

Voice Off (Donigan Cumming)

Voice Off marks the first time in this year’s NYVF that I actually walked out (although I do want to note that I was not alone in this sentiment as several audience members preceded and followed me in leaving), after viewing approximately two-thirds of the video. Ostensibly a personal chronicle of the artist’s brother – an eccentric, unpredictable, aging man of diminished mental capacity who had recently lost his voice and now communicates through handwritten notes and a voice synthesizer – the video evolves into a self-indulgent and egoistic rumination of the artist’s own smug, disdainful, self-absorbed, and insensitive observations of the cause and evolution of his brother’s disability. Featuring at least two exploitive, formally posed shots of his brother in full nudity, I found this particular work visually and thematically nauseating and morally reprehensible.

 

Paper Route (Robert Frank)

Recalling the nomadic films of Abbas Kiarostami in the organic progression of a deceptively mundane, yet insightful and life-affirming conversation between a driver and passenger, video artist Robert Frank accompanies his personable and disciplined local paper delivery man on his morning paper route on a brisk winter day through the artist’s bucolic hometown in Nova Scotia. Simple, compassionate, and engaging, the video is a reverent and indelible portrait of a humble existence and vanishing way of life that not only serves as the isolated residents’ literal source of information about the world around them, but also their human connection to the metaphoric ‘collective soul’ of the rural community.

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