Since the beginning of the year, Madison's microcinema salon Wis-Kino has made itself comfortable at Escape Java Joint and Gallery on Willy Street, its contributors and fans taking over the back room of the café complex for a movie screening every month. As has been the case since its founding in 2002, each screening is devoted to a particular theme, with contributing filmmakers encouraged but not required to show a short work inspired by the concept for the month.
The group is returning to its one-time home at the Orpheum Theatre over the next few days, though, for its latest Kabaret. Held twice annually every late spring and autumn, this two-day frenzy of filmmaking challenges participants to conceptualize and complete an original work, as defined within seven basic rules:
- The filmmaker(s) must register each planned Kabaret film on the opening night of the kabaret, so that we can plan the screening based on the number of films that will be shown. One person will be designated as the primary director.
- Kabaret films must be made within the period of the Kabaret.
- Films must incorporate the secret ingredient for the Kabaret. This will be announced on the opening night and posted on the website.
- Films must be no longer than 5 minutes.
- Completed film must be mini-DV or DVD format. (Remember to check the sound on your final tape!)
- Filmmakers must check in, completed film(s) in hand, 15 minutes before the beginning of the Kabaret screening.
- Film must include the Wis-Kino logo (or word 'Wis-Kino') and current year, in the end credits.
The fun begins on the evening of Thursday, May 10 at the Orpheum Main Theatre, with the regular monthly Wis-Kino screening (with a "Silent/No Dialogue" theme) beginning at 7:00 p.m. Following the screening, Kabaret organizers will publicly announce the required "secret ingredient," at which point participants will have about 46 or so hours remaining to complete their films.
Time will be up for the Kabaret at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, when every film delivered to Wis-Kino will be shown at the Orpheum Stage Door. The pressure of a ticking clock is a powerful motivator, as also can be the stimulation of a Kabaret's typically inspired no-longer-secret ingredient, so there will no doubt be a variety of interesting and entertaining works hitting the screens this weekend.
The films shared at the last two monthly screenings conducted by Wis-Kino can hold their own too, of course, and a refresher on each is a good warm-up for this weekend's short film bonanza. Held on the last Sunday of March and April, these screenings featured the themes of "music video" and "explosions," respectively.
This screening on March 25 was very well attended, with scores of people squeezing into Escape Java Joint to view the 17 movies in the line-up. The theme of "music videos" certainly had something to do with this, as many of the contributors were new to Wis-Kino, each bringing their own interpretation of the concept. All programming from the evening follows in order of screening, along with brief descriptions and several online versions of the films:
- Appliantology by Kevin Ducey
This opening offering set to "Organelle 1" by The Organelles features a mix of found footage and a surreal kitchen scene in a stream-of-consciousness collage structured around the percussive music.
- Let's Go by John Gourdoux
Opening with the opening matrimonial lyrics to "When Doves Cry," this live concert mockumentary created by GRS Entertainment of Milwaukee is an unvarnished homage to video clichés of the '80s. Set to a performance of "Kiss" by the Perple Rain Band, it's replete with neon, oblique camera angles, and a team of scantily-clad singers and dancers backing a Prince performing by way of Zoolander.
- Moim Oska by Sara Meredith
Set to a song by Ryan Adams, this video is full of close-up shots and grainy black-and-white footage in a homage to the college rock and alternative video classics from decades past.
- How to Please Your Car by B.C. Brown
Originally intended for screening at the Wis-Kino screening in February -- which had a theme of love/sex -- this film is a tutorial on satisfying one's anthropomorphized vehicle.
- B.L.A.C.K. by Lucie Ferrari
This crowd pleaser received two rounds of applause with its verite emcee and dance performance about African American history in a high school hallway, complete with a closing sequence of entertaining outtakes.
- All of This by Russell Reed
This work set to "All of This" by Shaimus likewise received a big round of applause. Built upon a basic music video foundation, the film goes all the way with the format via exaggerated choreography and rock poses.
- Prince Anthony by Mel Eslyn
This is the first time I've seen a non-computer version of this music video of The Selfish Gene, which was created by In the Clouds Motion Pictures in 2006. The audience was quickly entranced, with nearly all murmurs and chatter dying to near silence as the song got rolling.