DocLab Shorts 24 Nov at 19:45
A program of short stories that would never have existed without the internet.
Review: DocLab Live 1 / Going Places
The first in DocLab 2010’s line-up of 5 live interactive screenings at Amsterdam’s Tuschinski cinema, featuring web road movies in Japan and California.
For the first in DocLab 2010’s line-up of 5 live interactive screenings at Amsterdam’s opulent art deco Tuschinski cinema, two very different road movie-esque web documentaries, through Japan and California, introduced this year’s audience to the breadth and scope of the this emerging genre; from the dynamic and richly interactive Soul Patron to the poetic, immersive series of shorts in The Sparrow Songs.
Debut filmmaker Frederik Rieckher, opened the night, with a bespoke exploration through the urban centres and rural swathes of Japan – the idiosyncrasies of its food, its cultural nuances, its people, its ambiance.
The website opens with a visually gorgeous monochromatic animation, which hosts the navigation of the whole project. From the 6 hours of content available, viewers are invited to discover the country by moving through the 34 scenes via mostly static, long shots – or stay within a frame and zoom in on myriad details – street lamps, Sakura blossoms, a little girl climbing a statue on a square.
Stop and listen to a band on the streets of Shibuya, or choose to access specific information about the population, religion, or cultural mores. Guided by Tokotoko, an animated bunny, we delve deep into the chaotic streets and quiet alleyways, homeless camps, and busy cafes of Japan – to end up at the sacred Mizuko Jizo temple in Kyoto.
Frederik’s charming presentation was followed by director Alex Jablonski’s introduction to Sparrow Songs, a web documentary series of similar aesthetic beauty – but with minimal interactivity. This spectacular series of 12 documentary web shorts, shot over the course of the last 12 months (1 per month, without fail), is a heart-warming a testament to digital creativity in its finest form – which won Alex and his collaborator Michael Totten the honour of being named one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by the prestigious Filmmaker magazine.
Having seen all the Sparrow Songs multiple times on the small screen of my beloved laptop, consuming these intriguing, compelling, ambient character-based snippets of California life on the sumptuous silver screen of Tuschinski 4, made for a luxurious cinematic experience that could rival any traditionally-made movie.
Addressing themes as disparate as love, chess, donuts, God, and truth (or lack thereof), Alex chose to show 6 of the 12 films, and infused the night with some real-time interactivity, asking the audience to vote on which episode they would like to see for the grand finale. Porn Star Karaoke (naturally!) won out, as the tragicomic revelations of porn actresses and their fans closed the program for the night.
Soul Patron and Sparrow Songs: two beautifully shot masterpieces that exploit the web in very different ways – but that are united as flawless examples of digital creativity, motivated by nothing more than a passion for the story, and the possibilities of the medium.
Watch this space for video interviews with Frederik and Alex exclusively on DocLab.org next week!
Written by TheMinilot.