Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No sneezing pandas or desperate pleas to leave Britney alone plagued New York's IFC Center on Thursday night, when several web-based filmmakers gathered to screen and discuss their works. The event, titled "Where Internet and Film Collide," was co-hosted by the Independent Feature Project and IndieGoGo as a part of Internet Week New York, but none of the projects featured over the course of the evening resembled the lackadaisical style of your average YouTube phenomenon. Instead, the event brought strong examples of the ways independent cinema can flourish in cyberspace. The films themselves each had their own specific audiences, developed online through a variety of methods, but in every case, creative ambition paved the way to rigorous experimentation.

Two of the featured artists were no strangers to Stream readers: Our tech columnist, Jamie Stuart, screened two of his favorite shorts: NYFF45: Part Two, and 12.5 Seconds Later..., both of which he has discussed in his weekly column. Since the event was moderated by Filmmaker magazine editor Scott Macaulay, the producer of Stuart's New York Film Festival shorts, their conversation in front of the audience after his films were shown took on a personal tone. "I remember the first time we ever had a meeting," Stuart told Macaulay. "You asked me to bring along the scripts, and I was like, 'There aren't any scripts.' It's a combination of improvisation and editing." That pretty much sums it up: Stuart's NYFF shorts explore the frantic environment of media events with a lyrical edge, and NYFF45 gets it best, particularly when Stuart continually cuts from the jittery hands of anonymous photographers to glorious close-ups of Nicole Kidman (doing press for Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding). It's a surreal moment that underscores a specific kind of chaos associated with the crassness of celebrity obsession. Stuart summed it up: "I have no interest in reality. My goal is to pervert it."

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