Resfest (the festival where everyone is called Jonathan)

With perhaps the exception of the Fashion industry (and of course my late, lamented club Pretension) Film Festivals can be some of the most pretentious things in the world, so to find one that offers a diverse and cutting edge programme, without the merest hint of attitude is nothing short of a revolutionary. It’s also just as well as let’s face it, with me around, there’s not much room left for attitude (or pretensiousness).

For those out of da loop, Resfest is a digital filmmakers (nee imagemakers) festival that started life in 1995 as The Low Res Festival, before morphing into its current form. Now a fully fledged touring festival, each year it visits San Francisco (where it started), Seattle (where it rains), Chicago (home of Second City), Montreal (home of Just For Laughs…and bad French speakers with worse attitudes), New York (The Holy City), Los Angeles (the holier than thou city), Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo (yo, yo). Recently Resfest visited world centre of racism and whinging, London for the first time. Naturally I was there to say shalom!

Taking place at The Ritzy in Brixton (what’s wrong with
The Everyman
in Hampstead, I don’t know), the festival ran over three days, kicking off with Resfest Shorts (23 films under ten minutes). A microcosm of what the festival is all about, these multi genre shorts spanned everything from live action DV edited on Apple G4s, through electronically manipulated super 8/16mm DV hybrids, to 3D animations composed with 3D Studio Max, Flash, Maya, et al, with humour, drama, melancholia, experimentalism and downright weirdness served up in roughly equal portions (just like a meal with my family).

Projected with a kickin’ state of the art one hundred grand Barco (one of the festivals main sponsors) projector, in a fairly plush (by London standards) cinema (which if you’re in LA translates as a small cinema, with a small screen…and no drinks holders), this was not a case of electronic moviemaking adapted to fit the hundred year old dogma of celluloid, but a glimpse of the future of cinema…electronic cinema! Sure the DV looked like DV (as opposed to film), but so what, it was on a big screen, projected digitally (and consequently flawlessly) to probably a higher standard than the average third generation prints that many smaller cinemas end up with and what counts is that it felt like cinema.

Continuing the following evening with five long (under half hour) shorts, the programme (or is that program) traversed the wee hours with Cinema Electronica (rare and unseen music videos). Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly , fifteen of the twenty one videos screened were from UK based acts/directors, proving that The UK (an oxymoron if ever there was one) is apparently good for something after all….dance music (I knew there was a reason I’m still based here). Like me, it’s massive, rampant, ubiquitous and an exponential growth industry (dance music, not The UK). As such it needs videos and what’s better suited to electronically manipulated sounds than electronically manipulated images? Especially when no or minimal lyrics mean a blank sheet of paper (or is that screen) for visuals. Grooverider (big respect), Fatboy Slim, Leftfield and Bentley Rhythm Ace all featured in Cinema Electronica, my second favourite event.

The final day of Resfest included The Future of Filmmaking Panel, two DV Features, Sam The Man (live action) and the visually spectacular DJ Qbert’s Wave Twisters. The Highlight of the festival and the day, for me though, was Net Cinema Shorts, nineteen short e animations, most of which were put together using Macromedia’s Flash (despite Adobe’s presence as one of Resfest’s main sponsors). Anyone who thinks Flash is just a tool for web design should check out and where some of these are streamed. You’ll have your eyes opened and your preconceptions shattered. Flash is clearly the Southpark of computer animation and if you don’t think so, screw you guys, I’m going home.

In short (or in feature) next time Resfest comes to a city near you, go! If you don’t already have something to submit, you’ll be inspired to make something.

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