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Local filmmakers win awards

Wednesday, Feb 21 2001
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Things to Come San Francisco's waning international rep as an avant-garde art capital got a thousand-watt boost at the just-wrapped Rotterdam Film Festival, where Mission District media artist Eric Koziol enlivened the fest's "Exploding Cinema" offshoot. Koziol projected video culled from footage he shot over the last two years while performers from the Berkeley butoh dance company Inkboat enacted a "technological love story" between a professional voyeur (who broadcasts on the Web what he sees) and a virtual reality designer. At the same time, an onstage Conestoga wagon -- "the vehicle of progress and exploration and [a metaphor for] the manifest destiny of technological advancement," Koziol explains -- became a projection screen for three live cameras. In the Rotterdam Shouberg orchestra pit, Jack Dangers (from Meat Beat Manifesto) created the electronic score while yet another Bay Area collaborator, Ben Stokes, mixed the audio.

"The cinematic experience is typically one of fluid immersion in the reality presented on screen, where the individual efforts of the director, cinematographer, musician, and actor are seamlessly integrated into a whole," Koziol notes. "In my definition of exploded cinema, I rendered the process of moviemaking visible while it was happening, and the audience had to actively knit the whole visual together as the performance went on."

Though this piece, Ecstatic Amorica Live!, may sound overly conceptual, it was spiked with human emotion and levity, Koziol assures me. It began life as a dramatic feature screenplay, but "this incarnation became a satire of Internet culture and of the kind of role-playing the Internet provides." Koziol has no plans to mount the one-hour show here, but the Dutch performance will be archived at www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com.

In the Shadow of the Stars "I wouldn't say we got a lot of sleep last night," Deborah Hoffmann said as Frances Reid laughed in the background, just hours after Long Night's Journey Into Day (their haunting look at South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission) nabbed an Oscar nomination. Were the Oakland filmmakers parlaying the news into bucks for their next documentary? "If we were normal ambitious people, we would do something like that," Hoffmann replied dryly as their other line rang, "but we ended this film with such profound exhaustion that we aren't ready to begin a new one." Auspiciously, their second Oscar bash (Reid's short doc Straight From the Heart and Hoffmann's Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter were both nominated in 1995) falls on Reid's birthday. "Don't you think any reasonable group would give her a present?" Hoffmann asked.

The Time of Your Life After two near-sellouts at S.F. Indiefest last month, Los Gatos-bred Jed Mortenson (co-director) and Mill Valley native Casey Peterson (co-writer and lead actor) continue their triumphant Bay Area tour when their breezy indie feature, North Beach, screens at Cinequest this weekend. The USC film school grads -- plus another alum, North Beach co-director and co-star Richard Speight Jr. -- are already mulling plans to shoot another Peterson script. "Casey's analogy," says Mortenson over the phone from L.A., "which I love, is to make movies the way a band makes records: Make a movie, take it on tour for awhile, retreat, and come up with the next one." North Beach plays Feb. 24 at 4:15 p.m. and Feb. 26 at 4:30 p.m. at San Jose's Camera Cinemas.

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Michael Fox

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