Cosmic Comics

I was able to see a few other films at the New Horizons film festival, even despite the game of buying tickets! Strangely, both of the other films I saw had animated sequences about the creation of the universe?! Both handled them differently of course but I found it a little unsettling to see two films approach this subject so overtly...what state is the world in that two different directors felt the need to discuss the very beginnings of things in order to understand the present? Are they looking for a universal rebirth? Or anticipating the end? A little bleak either way! But, I really appreciated both directors creating something otherwordly (or ultra worldly?) which is a thing the fiction film medium should always strive to do- push the limits of what film can be and explore, but still...a little unnerving to see one big bang after the other!

The first film I saw with this feature was Walk Away Renee, Jonathan Caouette's followup to his sort of auto-biopic film Tarnation (which I haven't seen! I know, I know, I need to see it!). This film focused on Jonathan's relationship with his mother Renee, a bi-polar force who I don't think anyone can ever really know, including herself... Centered on a road trip Caouette made with his mother from Texas to NY, the film artfully follows the two through the journey's ups, downs and moments of poetic intro/outro-spection. The film is dotted with fictional interludes revolving around new age enthusiasts, (the above mentioned) creation of the universe(s), quick paced image sequences and explanatory intertitles all intricately formed into a precise, visionary film. Even when some of the scenes seemed forced or disingenuous the editing, emotion and just plain love in this film shows signs of a true filmmaking master. I don't think I have, in recent years, left a theater excited for the future of a filmmaker to this extent!

The other film I saw with universal tendencies was Mundane History, the award winner of New Horizons 2010, and whose director, Anocha, Brent & I spent some time with while in Poland at this year's fest. Mundane History's creation/exploration of the greater universal area was just plain beautiful! The animated cosmic sequence was hazy and lovely and the overall slow style of filmmaking and narrative of family drama was made up for through a constant beauty and tension, including a few unexpectedly graphic scenes- all reminding of the inheritance of existance, however harsh that may be. The soundtrack was pretty propulsive too, led by the Asian bands Photo Sticker Machine and Furniture, creating a rock soundscape that the images could breezily float over. The film had a larger political subtext about primogeniture, freedom and loss with the dialectical opposite found in birth (and rebirth), subjects that I totally applaud the filmmaker for discussing given their touchy nature, especially in such a tense national climate (the film was given the rating of 20+ in the director's native Thailand, making it impossible for anyone under 20 to see, a censorship over content but a louder message for sure). Overall a beautiful film from a beautiful filmmaker who is sure to become indie film legend!

Speaking of macrocosms...while in Wroclaw Poland for the film festival Brent & I literally stumbled upon an insane miniature Christmas shrine! We were pulled into the huge, dark space (the looming dark building in the top photo) by a stained glass window when suddenly we ended up in a tiny little room where an old Polish woman pressed a button to reveal a mechanized, musical, blinking, holiday wonder! With such highlights as a smurf with red blinking eyes! Multiple animated pope figurines! Dancing ducks! Sawing bears! It goes on and on! Here are a few photos Brent & I took but they barely begin to explain the experience! A tiny, Christmas microcosm hidden on this crooked, winding street- this is most definitely my kind of universe!



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.