May 15, 2009

Urban realism was a theme that appeared consistently throughout many of the films. For example Max Sitnikov’s Brighton 2, a comedic action thriller focusing on the subject of East European gang crime in New York City, effectively embodied this urban realist theme. This short narrative focused on criminal activities such as kidnapping, and illegal moon shining but with an air of humor. This Comedic element made for a surreal viewing experience. Moreover this is actually the sequel to a piece completed during Sitnikov’s junior year, revealing his ambitiousness as a filmmaker.

Consistent with the recurring theme of realism was Bryant Fisher’s documentary, Marie and Maria. This intimate piece explored how a relative with down syndrome affects his family dynamic. The documentary focused on Fisher’s aunt Maria, chronicling her life, from first being diagnosed with down syndrome at birth, and well into adulthood where she developed dementia. Though interviewing his other relatives, the audience gained an understanding of how Fisher’s aunt’s condition presented challenges to his family. Most notable was the relationship between Fisher’s grandmother and his aunt. Maria’s condition, always demanding special care, created an extremely close bond between this mother and child. The personal nature of this piece makes spoke to the sensitivities concerning family structure.

Viewer’s Like You, directed by Eric Schoenbrunn, made use of the more banal day to day aspects of realism. A short narrative about a young man returning home after prematurely leaving college was composed as a comedy with simple goals. The presence of a comic relief character acts as the foil to a lackadaisical leading man. This high character contrast adds depth to the situation effectively transcending the plot making it a secondary concern in comparison to the character interaction.

Finally one of the more remarkable pieces shown that night was Steep. A work of video art directed by Sophia Riordan. The piece was constructed through the use of elaborate sound effects, and skillfully editing footage of human body parts, such as hands and strands of hair, as well as black ink, all moving through water. This video seemed to transform the theatre into a sensory deprivation tank. The striking quality of this piece allows a viewer to completely overlook Riordan’s limited resources of primarily just a water filled bathtub. Through this piece Riordan shows her audience that she is not only an effective video artist but also extremely resourceful and creative.

As a whole the showcase showed the highly conceptual nature of Pratt’s Film/Video Program. Conceptualism being what gives these students an edge as filmmakers and visual storytellers.

Review by Raymond Miller.