With a year of operations under its belt, Sundance Cinemas at Hilldale is showing increased support for the Madison filmmaking community, playing host to the Spring Kabaret held back in April by Wis-Kino back in April, a big departure from its regular monthly home at Escape Java Joint. Twice a year, this group focused on short films holds a festival in which participating filmmakers are challenged to create an original work over the course of a weekend.
An even bigger change than the location for the Kabaret, though, was its structure in terms of the rules for filmmakers. While previous rounds of the two-day filmmaking challenge have featured a single thematic element that all participants are required to incorporate into their creation, this particular Kabaret featured individualized requirements, which included themes, titles, and quotes. Filmmakers drew their required ingredients out of a hat at the kickoff screening, held in the lobby lounge of Sundance next to the theater's box office.
The Kabaret "was as big of a success as I could expect for our spring celebration," declared Wis-Kino co-director Josh Klessig after the big show on Sunday, April 20. "The screening itself went off more smoothly than most Kabarets, with the exception of some cropping issues from the projector's settings being a bit off. That caused us to have to replay some films that had their tops and bottoms chopped off, and that caused us to run a little late. Other than that, it was a great screening, and I look forward to showing them what a big crowd we can bring to the Fall Kabaret this coming November."
All of the shorts were bracketed by a series of brief bumpers promoting Wis-Kino that were created by Eric Allin, one of the group's primary technical volunteers. A list and brief descriptions of the films screened at the Wis-Kino 2008 Spring Kabaret follows, along with several of the shorts available online for viewing:
- Fore by Four by Dane101.com
Wielding a bag of golf clubs, a group of hopeful shoppers visit the first outdoor Dane County Farmers' Market of the season in this short. After speaking with a variety of vendors and purchasing a few of their items, the crew proceeds to practice their swing with an iron on the Capitol lawn. "Start to end, it took us about twelve hours to create a five minute short," notes one of the filmmakers about its making. "Regardless of the outcome, the process was a whole lot of fun."
- Color Bands in the Sky by Emilio Tozzi
The whole world is a screen in this creation, which finds the familiar rainbow color-bar used in contemporary TV test patterns taking over the heavens. People going about their daily business outside -- driving and relaxing in their yards, for example -- incredulously find that their skies have turned into a mere medium. It is set to a tune by Devin Anderson, a Seattle composer whose work includes scoring films.
- Snot-Nosed Brat by Kathy Fischer
A friendly game of poker between four women is unexpectedly interrupted by the appearance of a tremendously oversized booger dangling from the nose of the dealer in this short. The other three players grow increasingly disgusted by the spectacle, and begin throwing around puns about mucus in its myriad forms in order to inform the titular character about the snot. Alas, the situation only gets worse.
- Snipe Hunt by John Feith
Madison disco superstars VO5 set the tune for this music video titled for the infamous form of practical joke named for the elusive bird and known more simply as a wild goose chase. The actual avian is the quarry in this short, though. As the band sings, "What you doin' shootin' in the dark, if you don't know what you want... you're on snipe hunt, snipe hunt baby," images of Wilson's Snipes flying, fighting plovers and stalking beaches are captured by the camera.
- Fun Rangers 5: The Fortune Teller by Blame Society Productions
Hal and Cody are back in action in this new episode of the online comedy series by and starring Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan as the title characters. Resurrected from the dead and ready to return to their rolphing ways, the pair visits a fortune teller who utilizes a pumpkin to cannily prophesize a near future snack attack.
- The Medallion by Greater Wealth Productions
A small murder of crows and the appearance of a mysterious medallion kick off this ghost story created by G.W. Welsh and his collaborators in Greater Wealth Productions. A trio of roommates are haunted by a pair of vengeful specters in the short film, which is presented as seen on a TV screen, imparting it with a timeworn aura.
- Egyptian Confection by Rob Matsushita, Emily Mills, and Nick Drake
Matsushita and Mills star as a fanboy and B-list actress, respectively, in this short presented as part of an online video interview series. Approached by the vlogger during an autograph-signing session at a con, the star of Space Punk proceeds to answer questions about her fans, the program and its mythology, and her early work in acting, including stints in commercials and in a Cinemax film titled Egyptian Confection. She also discusses her future work, rattling off a few joke titles -- including the essential sequel subtitled "Electric Boogaloo" and a forthcoming sixth episode of Fun Rangers -- and assents to the final question in the interview: a request for an autograph.
- Above the Influence by Chris Kuech and Jesse Shackelford
A spoof of the anti-drug use ad campaign from the Office of National Drug Control Policy with the same title, this short film features a testimonial by a young man hooked on Legos. The addict discusses his abuse of the substance, and shares its myriad variety of street names, including Magic Bricks, The Fun Maker, Nose Cloggers, and so on, before cutting and snorting a line of the white plastic playthings. As with any PSA, it ends with an important message, this one warning youth about the dangers of Legos.
- RASH Notes: 1984 by RASH Films
Cliffs Notes for films? Or better yet, Cliffs Notes for films based on classic literature? That's the premise of this creation by Josh Klessig and Sam Lawson of RASH Films, which presents a summarized version of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four for viewers who have read neither the book nor its various film adaptations. Klessig describes the short, made over the course of about three hours, as "beautiful cheese."
- Self Aware by Roger Bindl
A hand-drawn stick figure is animated into existence in this short film, which follows the protagonist's journey of self-discovery as a rough sketch. Of particular interest to him is an appendage presented as the arrow symbol for males, which he temporarily mistakes for an umbrella before one day learning about its appointed purpose: "a symbol, a path to pleasure and life in the universe."
- 8/18/08 by Heidi Johnson
The focus of this short is a large wedding portrait, which serves as the canvas for a group painting exercise that is the centerpiece of the house party surrounding it. The ensuing new piece of art, a colorful collage of paint and print clippings, develops quickly via time-lapse as the party continues late into the night.
- You Can Have Any Color As Long As It Is Black by Justin Sprecher
A wheelchair-bound research subject in a dark and dreary lab finds himself in the middle of a bright and energetic hallucination in this short, which gets rolling when a scientist hooks his head up to a machine and turns on the juice. The pair subsequently take to running around and dancing with one another in a variety of outdoor locations, a vision that's all too brief, though, as reality quickly returns.
The Wis-Kino 2008 Spring Kabaret ended with plenty of discussions in the Sundance lobby about the films shown through the night. The summer season for the group gets underway this weekend, as its regular monthly series returns on Sunday, May 19. The screening at Escape Java Joint begins at 7 p.m., with the optional theme of "Fair, Fare, Phare."