Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 16 News List

Golden Horse deeps it short and sweet

The Digital Shorts competition features some outstanding entries in this new but obscure category

By Max Woodworth  /  STAFF REPORTER

Carnt Sleep

Competition in the Digital Shorts category of the Golden Horse Film Festival began last night with screenings of Taiwanese and -- this year for the first time -- international entrants.

Competition films are shown in four groups and will be screened until Tuesday, when the winners will be announced at Warner Village.

The Digital Shorts section is one of the festival's newest projects, having started three years ago with competition limited to Taiwanese short films. This year, the competition was opened to foreign filmmakers and saw over 300 entries. After the initial selection, locally made short films accounted for eight of the 34 competing films.

The use of digital technology in the production of the films and their short length -- most clock in at less than 10 minutes -- make the category one of the more interesting features of the festival, showcasing a range of styles that would become unwieldy or simply unwatchable in a feature-length film. Some of the films stylistically resemble music videos, while others give the impression of being video art projects.

With low-cost digital editing and film technology widely available, the category also opens itself to students and semi-professional filmmakers, which is apparent in the selections for this year's competition.

Digital Shorts highlights

Carnt Sleep

by Owen Oppenheimer

A young man and woman spend a sleepless night alone in adjacent rooms, tossing and turning from their mutual desire for each other that they for some reason haven't expressed. With a split screen, we can see the action in both rooms as the two squirm in discomfort over their repressed emotions and eventually lash out.

Showa Shinzan

by Reiko Loader

Shot with a mixture of archive World War II footage and animation, this film tells the story of a mysterious old man from the perspective of his granddaughter. The man is surveying a volcano in Hokkaido that threatens his town and his warnings to authorities go unheeded, which sets the stage for a natural calamity to compound the hardships already brought on by the war.

Down

by Frank Brandstetter

This is a haunting, silent, slow-motion video of a girl standing in an idyllic meadow, where, as the camera pans out, toys and other objects on the ground around her shoot into the sky. The footage is shown in reverse, until the end, when a camera trick turns notions of time and space on their heads.

His-men Street

by Lin Yu-hsien

A DJ, a skateboarder, a dancer and a graffiti artist are portrayed in this documentary-style look at underground youth culture in Taipei. They have their own stories of alienation and confusion but a common link to the city's growing urban counter culture. This film finally unmasks the artist behind the cartoon faces stenciled on so many of Taipei's electric switch boxes.

Otsu

by Lucas Valerie

A fun animation featuring a mad scientist bearing an uncanny resemblance to Einstein living amid dreary heaps of machinery, who is awakened, so to speak, to the outside world by an apple falling on his head, in a reference to Isaac Newton. Wishing to discover where the apple came from, the scientist constructs a helicopter-like pod and flies upward, where, a colorful, dazzling surprise awaits him.

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