Monday, April 11, 2005

Live from Frog Baby

On Saturday I attended the Frog Baby Film Festival at Ball State University and saw a wide range of nice work, a dozen shorts in all. As with a lot of student films, it was a marriage of the mostly technically proficient and somewhat emotionally immature; only in student films do you see the brightest, prettiest co-eds falling for the most sullen shaggy-headed punks on campus (as seen several times here).

I was most impressed by “Catalyst,” a documentary about an artist working on a massive steel-and-limestone artwork to be displayed outside an Indiana cultural center, and the genial blue-collar men who helped her put it all together; a loopy absurdist comedy from the University of Utah called “Here Comes Private Investigator Kengo Koshiyamata;” the masterful production trickery of a dazzling little short called “Times Square Dance;” and a nice little relationship comedy-drama called “My Second Favorite,” which took the Grand Jury prize and grabbed a few other categories as well.

I was fearful of “My Second Favorite” at first because the opening scene shows two people eating cereal underneath a big movie poster and riffing on the pop culture playing across their TV, certainly as stereotypical a college movie scene post-Tarantino as there has ever been, but soon the plot’s twists and turns, and a number of good performances, take it in its own direction.

It’s great to see student films because you see that lightning is going to strike somebody, someday, and that’s the best time to be there; the smell of ozone in the air, the hair standing up a bit, right before the flash of brilliance.

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