One thing's for sure about the Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival: It never gets boring. It's at times hilarious, gorgeous, creepy, cryptic, disgusting, sophomoric, and amateurish, but dull? No way. With 61 entries — none longer than two minutes — crammed into an hour and a half, the occasional less-than-riveting piece amounts to a moment's respite from the videographic onslaught.
Now in its fourth year, the festival has snowballed from a lark into something approaching international infamy, a juried showcase with submissions from such far-flung environs as Berlin and Mexico. And due in part to a no-censorship policy, it tends to attract the truly out-there. “There's a lot of pretty controversial weirdness this year,” says festival director Beth Hall. “But I think this town can handle it.”
Consider yourself warned: If in-your-face shots of male genitalia, grisly car-accident footage, scatological depictions, gore, and sundry sexual imagery bother you, well, there's always the talking-pig movie. Personally, I pretty much reveled in the whole affair, with one notable exception: Toe, a prime candidate for America's Funniest Home Surgery. In a word: yuck.
Not that the fest is some gross-out contest. Icky images are but a smidgen of this year's sweetest (culled from 112 submissions), and with so much eye candy in the pipeline, you might just want to avert your gaze when the going gets rough. (It'll be over in two minutes anyway.)
The program kicks off with We Are Men, Damn It, a farcical montage of found images coupled with an absurdist macho rant: “We are men, we like breaking stuff,” the narrator intones, later adding things like, “Bob saves his dandruff in a box.” From there, it's a veritable video avalanche, ranging from beautiful, obtuse artiness and a wide spectrum of computer animation to jokey, inspired zaniness.
Some highlights: Masterpiece Action Theater, a Monty Pythonesque reworking of classic works of art; Caballeros y Hombres Prehistoricos, a Z-grade faux film trailer; and the credits-heavy non sequitur Laconic Cement. Then there's the dopey Seattle-dudes-with-a-camera-and-a-grant high jinks of Bat-Man; the Gumby-on-a-shoestring-budget animated mishaps of Mrs. Bloodclot in Student Driver; and The Assailant, a first-person look at a date gone horribly wrong.
And that's just Act 1. After intermission, two left coast animators document their first visit to the Pacific Ocean. Some exceptionally pathetic guy takes a stab at solitaire Twister while waiting for the phone to ring. Then things start to get hairy, so to speak. Sick Nurse Productions documents Vaughn's Balls in excruciating detail. Masterism offers a ThighMaster demo you'll never see in an infomercial. And if you make it through Toe, your rewards are a supercutesy kid vid; a video that asks the burning question Are Your Houseplants Suicidal?; and Scumbag, a twisted roommate-from-hell vignette co-directed by erstwhile talk-show host Paget Brewster.
With audience response encouraged, this audiovisual barrage in a crowded theater promises to be a raucous evening. Just be sure to bring an open mind and a cast-iron stomach.
The Fourth Annual Short Attention Span Film and Video Festivall screens at 8 p.m. Fri, Sept. 29, and Sat, Sept. 30, at the Victoria Theatre in S.F. For more info, check their web site at http://festival.insweb.com or call 282-4316.