FLEX Fest highlights short films by talented filmmakers
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:33 p.m.
Cary Grant sees a plane ... feels it bearing down on him ... and seconds later hits the dirt to flee from a volley of bullets spraying forth. The "crop-dusting" sequence from "North by Northwest" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) is one of the most famous action sequences in film history.
Now, "Crop Duster Octet," a unique take on the sequence, is among the many highlights of the Florida Experimental Film/Video Festival, which returns Friday through Sunday at the Top Secret Space and the Hippodrome Theatre.
Back for its ninth year, the festival, often referred to as the FLEX Fest, features 72 mostly short films chosen from 810 submitted from around the world, says Roger Beebe, artistic director and a co-founder of the festival.
The number of films submitted this year is 100 more than last year — and the increase in submissions corresponds to an increase in the quality of this year's selections, Beebe says.
"You're talking about 72 films out of 800 instead of 72 films out of 700; I do think each year the quality has really gone up too," he says. "I think it's gotten more and more competitive. We were rejecting people who are amazing filmmakers. It was a strange position to be in."
All the films, many of which are 10 to 12 minutes in length or shorter, will be screened once as part of eight different programs lasting about 90 minutes each. Screenings are planned for 7 and 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday at Top Secret Space, 22 N. Main St., with two daytime programs added on the weekend: 1 p.m. Saturday at the Hippodrome Theatre, and 4 p.m. Sunday back at Top Secret Space.
Admission is $5 per program, or $25 for a festival pass good for all screenings and events.
Below is a look at just three of the films to make the cut. For the full schedule and more about the entire festival, see www.flexfest.org.
"CROP DUSTER OCTET": Greg Biermann's opus clocking in at 5 minutes and 33 seconds divides Hitchcock's masterful sequence into eight horizontal bands that begin at different places but come together at the end for an intensely exciting effect.
"It sounds very simple. But the way your eye kind of finds the frame, suddenly one part will be in the corn field, and in another part the plane will be swooping down and there will be a narrow sliver that's just Cary Grant's eyes," says Beebe, who adds that an audience who saw the film in a recent preview of the festival in Mexico City was astounded by it.
"It's a really cool piece, and the crowd in Mexico City really responded to that one," he says; 7 p.m. Friday, part of the program titled "Winding Wingding Wonder Wander," Top Secret Space.
"FANFARE FOR MARCHING BAND": This 16-minute video from Chicago captures a full marching band performing in unexpected places around the Windy City — including a grocery store, train station and park.
"It's really beautiful, colorful and big," Beebe says. "And (the musicians) interact with people in those environments in an interesting way. I'm really into this film"; 1 p.m. Saturday, part of the program titled "(big)," Hippodrome Theatre.
"PIGS": Don't eat a pork sandwich after this one: Pawal Wojtasik's near-8 minute film contains lots of visceral close-ups of pigs rolling around in mud, relieving themselves everywhere and eating plastic bags, Beebe says.
Though shot on a farm in Las Vegas, you'd swear it was shot "somewhere deep, deep in the third word," says Beebe, who add about the film's close-ups and intense textures: "If you're a meat-eater, it's one of those films where you walk out (thinking), ‘How can I continue to do this?'"; 9 p.m. Saturday, part of the program "Manimals/Machanimals," Top Secret Space.
Contact Entertainment Editor Bill Dean at 374-5039 or at email@example.com, and follow on Twitter @SceneBillDean.
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