Let's Get hi/lo

Killing My Lobster's "high concept, low budget" film festival

The sixth annual hi/lo film festival's organizers, Killing My Lobster, stress the fest's dedication to "high concept, low budget" filmmaking. In fact, one of their many slogans is "40 million dollars can kill a good idea." Using the brain and not the wallet produces better movies, they argue, and to prove their point they trot out:

Making Love (Out of Nothing at All), a digital video piece by Michelle Dean of San Francisco, could be described as high-tech and low-concept -- the image manipulation is great, but singing hot dogs? Air Supply is always a good target, and there are a few yuks to be had, but it's something of a one-trick pony. At least it's short. More impressive is Fast Forward #1, another DV work, this one by Alec Joler of Lawrence, Kan. It begins with a guy beatboxing over a shot of LEGO animation, and the first 10 seconds seem to forecast a crappy-looking trip through the mind of an idiotic twentysomething. But at second No. 11 it turns into a hilarious action-movie satire and a tribute to the minds of 4-year-olds everywhere. The movement of the toys as they blow each other up, shoot each other in the head, and screech their cars around corners is hysterical. The tissue-paper explosions are also awesome, as is the dialogue.

Complex symbolism in Michelle Dean's Making 
Love (Out of Nothing at All).
Complex symbolism in Michelle Dean's Making Love (Out of Nothing at All).

Details

Friday through Sunday, April 11-13

Admission is $7

558-7721

www.hilofilmfestival.com

San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut (at Jones), S.F.

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The work presented by hi/lo in the past has been called a lot of names; one that comes up with some regularity is "mixed bag." This year is no exception, but many of the films are charming, quirky, and far better than the major-budget pap that crawls out of Hollywood. Call of the Wild, the rare 35mm movie (by Julia Sarcone-Roach of Brooklyn), combines beautiful, scratchy animation with a perfect balance of incomprehensibility and humor. The fruit bat square-dancing scene is flawless. Back in the DV camp, In Praise of American Leftists by Paul Chan of Chicago is a cool, film-looking thing that chronicles the mouth- and chin-related facial hair of about a hundred people. They all appear strangely cartoonish, and at the end is an interesting explanation. San Franciscan Ramsel Ruiz weighs in with Beige, which makes a sharp comment on the quality of suburban life and looks much more richly textured than most DV work. (Unfortunately, the quality of the voice-over isn't as high as that of the visuals.) I would rather not spend any more time with Andrew Dickson of Portland, Ore., but his digital video, Hunter Dawson -- a faux reality-TV-show audition tape -- is so funny that I have no choice but to hang with him for another few minutes. The layers of possible meaning and interpretation boggle the mind: This is a fake of a pretense to a "reality" that everyone knows is fake. You've got to see it to believe it.

 
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