The influence of The Faint, the Omaha indie-rock band, can be felt throughout the nearly two hours of Film Streams’ third annual Local Filmmaker Showcase.
That’s because members of the band served as jurors for the showcase this year, choosing the 10 films that made the cut. The program begins its weeklong run Friday with a 7:30 p.m. screening and premiere party at the Ruth Sokolof Theater, 14th and Mike Fahey Streets. All of the filmmakers are expected to attend.
Music figures prominently in several films, including three music videos. Vivid and eclectic imagery are another major theme. These musicians have an appreciation for the offbeat and bizarre, as well as for a different way of seeing the everyday. That’s reflected in the films they chose.
The showcase was created to give area film artists (defined as residents of Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota, or natives of those states now making films elsewhere) a theatrical run for their work at a theater that is devoted to celebrating film as art.
I got a preview of the showcase last week, and Todd Fink of The Faint is right when he says the entries were surprisingly diverse.
Here’s a brief glimpse of what you’re in for if you take in the showcase:
“Magic for Beginners,” directed by Jesse McLean. McLean says she’s examining the mythologies found in fan culture, from longing to obsession to psychic connections. It’s a brainy and thought-provoking exploration, utilizing texts from “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,” someone who observed a thing or two about fan obsession. The way mass media affect interpersonal relationships and alter our emotional makeup is a particularly rich vein of thought McLean taps into.
“Somebody Help Me” (Howard) and “Bloodline” (Gus and Call), a pair of videos by Patrick Geske. He grew up in Minnesota and studied film at Creighton University. Geske says he tried to create a visual intensity that matches the music you hear in the videos. For him, it’s all about tone and feeling. I was particularly struck by a wall of picture frames, each of which was filled with moving images. Also by the use of landscapes and an intriguing white plaster dummy.
“Telephone,” directed by Tony Bonacci. A 28-year-old Omaha filmmaker, Bonacci has so far shot only short films and videos. In this one, he explores an awkward relationship between an older man and a younger woman. We’re a small enough town that it’s still striking and fun to see images of familiar sites like Blue Line Coffee in Dundee, Memorial Park, or stretches of Dodge Street up on the big screen.
“The Language of War,” directed by Pat Clark of Lexington, Neb. This is a well-crafted, informative and moving 23-minute documentary about Iraq War translators. It looks at how their jobs forever changed their lives, why they decided to take such high-risk work, and what their help meant to the American troops they worked for. Note the effective use of music throughout, and the visually striking titles with floating letters. The film was made while Clark was studying television, film and new media at San Diego State University. His undergrad degree is from UNL.
“Blaze,” directed by Tim Guthrie. He describes it as an experimental short created partly in New Zealand and partly in Omaha. Like other Guthrie shorts, it explores perception and time.
“The Gay Lifestyle,” directed by Lindsay Trapnell. Trapnell says many people hold preconceived ideas about how gay people live that are born of ignorance and have little to do with reality. So she made a film in which she follows 27 gay people doing what they do on a typical day. Much of it is pretty ordinary, though a trip to Dixie Quick’s is a pleasure that’s never banal. Trapnell is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Metropolitan Community College.
“Last Dirge” (Conduits) directed by Jonathan Tvrdik. Another music video that invites immersion in both imagery and music. Tvrdik has bachelor’s degrees in advertising and graphic design, plus certification as a screenwriter from UCLA.
“Herpe Betty — Choked on Chicken,” directed by Harrison Martin. Martin grew up in Millard and is studying film in Chicago. This is part of a web series about a deranged young woman. In one word: bizarre.
“Flexing Muscles,” directed by Charles Fairbanks. This Lexington, Neb., wrestler who lives in Mexico immerses the viewer in the striking world of masked wrestling, or Lucha Libre. His films in an earlier showcase also dealt with wrestling. This time he puts a camera into his mask and fights as El Gato Tuerto. Colorful in more than one way.