The audience was small but enthusiastic at the Orpheum Stage Door on Thursday night, where local filmmakers had assembled for the opening screening of the spring Kabaret at Wis-Kino. While a dozen short films hit the screen at the downtown auditorium, the highlight of the evening came at its end when the secret ingredient for the weekend was revealed.
Standing before a silent group of expectant filmmakers, Wis-Kino co-directors Josh Klessig and Sam Lawson announced that the theme for the Kabaret. It's "COMPLICATED" shouted the former, or alternatively complication noted the latter, delivering the news via a text message sent from Madison's sister Kino group in Louisville, Kentucky. The secret ingredient for their Kabaret next weekend, meanwhile, will be delivered from Madison.
That's no immediate concern for the participating filmmakers in this city's Kabaret, though, who will be working through Friday and most of Saturday to complete a five-minutes-or-less short film. They'll remain focused on creating a "complicated" film, or at least one integrating a "complication" of one sort or another. Come to think of it, each can be interpreted broadly, something that bodes well for the closing screening at the Orpheum on Saturday evening.
This was the case as well on Thursday, when the option theme of "Silent Film" was featured in most of the short movies screened at the kick-off. "Silent" was interpreted variously, though in most cases it meant the absence of dialogue but not all sound.
A list and brief descriptions of all eight new shorts follows:
- Silent Movie by Josh Klessig
The screening started with this very brief classic-style silent movie -- complete with sepia coloring and narrative title cards -- offers a basic moral about surveillance in contemporary society. All life is a silent movie now, it concludes.
- Excerpt from Conundrum 37 by Eric Allin and Heidi Johnson
Though there was no speaking in this abstract collage melding images of a percussionist, modern dance, and Charlie Chaplin, there was an expressive soundtrack.
- Tour of the Universe by Emilio Tozzi
This short took viewers around a digitally constructed solar system, one that included such satellites as The Forbidden Planet, the Planet of the Apes, and plenty of other pop culture references in an amusing display of homemade computer animation.
- A Fox Dreams of Eating Birds by John Feith
Though quiet in volume, the ambient sounds of nature in this film featuring imagery of a loping fox, an elusive squirrel, and a handful of small birds permeated the absolutely silent theater, an example of the cacophony oftentimes lost in the din of human life.
- Who Laughs Last by Roger Bindl
This film originally screened as part of Madison's recent 48 Hour Film Project contest, and is available for viewing online.
- Shameful Jimmy by Jesse Shackelford and Chris Kuech
An archetypical classic film sporting a sepia color and a pair of actors sporting Chaplin-style mustaches steps back into reality and full Technicolor following a argument about immigration cut short by the director.
- Chad Vader: Fully Operational by Blame Society Productions
Pre-approved for screening at the kick-off due to its fifteen-minute length, this documentary provides a swift introduction to the Chad Vader phenomenon as seen through the eyes of its creators Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda and the series' principal cast and crew. As is the case with its subject, there were plenty of laughs throughout in this special feature available on the new Chad Vader DVD.
- Sunset by Jill Hopke
The final film of the evening was also the briefest, swiftly displaying a series of lakeside images at dawn and dusk atop a soundtrack of gently-lapping waves.
The kick-off also featured the four shorts originally shown at the April screening two weeks ago.
"Wis-Kino is more of a social movement than a film one," says Josh Klessig after announcing the secret ingredient. Participating filmmakers subsequently start plotting immediately as they face less than 46 hours before their they return with their brand-new creations.