Experimental Films at Williamsburg’s Spectacle

"Trip Paulista"

“Trip Paulista”

Last weekend Experimental Film Festival Portland (EFFPortland) co-director Hannah Piper Burns presented two showcases at Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater. Piper is an accomplished filmmaker herself and on Fandor‘s marketing staff. I missed her compilation of female experimentalists from Portland (“PDXX”). It also contained two of her own films, both of which I’ve enjoyed before (and can be seen on her website). The second compilation, “New/Strange Worlds” is drawn from films shown at last year’s EFFPortland festival.

At least four of the shorts are amazing and also available —in whole or in part— online. Brazil’s Marcia Beatriz Granero might love Kenneth Anger as much as I do; I kept thinking of the way Anger used color in his short film “Puce Moment” while I watched her gorgeous “Trip Paulista,” in which a woman dreams, drinks coffee, takes psychotropics and then treats the streets of Sao Paulo as if they were her private beach.

Gina Marie Napolitan’s 8-minute film “Catechism of Familiar Things” is a history of her native Brockton, Massachusetts as revealed in hundreds of small objects she found in her family attics. She uses stop-frame animation, paper cut-outs and some highly idiosyncratic and delightful techniques for transitions: using her hands to create an iris effect and a pane of glass to slide titles out of focus, which visually reminds one of the sliding diopters in an eye examination. You don’t have to be a fan of the Brothers Quay or Hollis Frampton (who also make great use of, respectively, mysterious miniatures and visual sets and series) to be awed by this masterful work.

"Catechism Of Familiar Things"

“Catechism Of Familiar Things”

Norwegian filmmaker Ulf Kristiansen’s “I Feel You” features a ram-headed, animated man (on first sight I thought of Matthew Barney in “Cremaster”) singing a haunting cover version of the titular 1993 Depeche Mode song intercut with shots from F. W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu.” “Morris,” an 18-minute animated film by James J.A. Mercer is a scary sci-fi narrative told with 8-bit aesthetics. If your old gameboy dreamt like Phillip K. Dick it might look like this.

If you haven’t yet been to the tiny, thirty-seat, budget-priced (five dollars!) Spectacle Theater in South Williamsburg you are missing out on some of the most innovative, provocative and playful film programming to be found anywhere. The Spectacle Theater is located at 124 S. 3rd Street, just off Bedford Avenue, in Brooklyn.

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