In a tone that manages to be simultaneously self-aware, streetwise, and incredulous, an anonymous rent boy recounts being raped by a trick in a New York hotel. Filmmaker Gina Carducci and queer writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore illustrate his graphic reminiscence with moody, ephemeral shots of empty lobbies and elevators that evoke the accumulated psychodramas of public spaces. Their marvelously titled 16mm short, All That Sheltering Emptiness, is one of several exceptional works collected in Human Nature, the first of two shorts programs comprising the ATA Film & Video Festival. Bill Browns gritty, unvarnished Chicago Corner, a biting critique of the hostile indifference of urban renewal in Daleys town, illuminates another side of the relationship between people and their environment. Going beyond metaphorical places and literal locations, John Palmer goes deceptively deep in Whos Afraid. He traffics brilliantly in off-screen space. Two disembodied heads bicker and bait each other in close-up, then welcome another, unprepared couple for more of the same. Whos Afraid is the most entertaining piece in the lineup, appropriating its dialogue from a classic text on private spaces.
Oct. 21-22, 8 p.m., 2010