say your piece

157 13 NOVEMBER 2003
Touring Free Form Film Festival Hits Salt Lake City Homebase
By Jeremy Mathews
The RED Interview

hile many people who stage film festivals in Utah do so during the Sundance Film Festival to leech off its popularity, Tyrone Davies’ attempts to bring experimental and artistic film to Salt Lake City come when there aren’t very many chances to see experimental shorts.

Davies organized the loaf-i film festival last year in October at the Broadway Centre, and this year has organized the Free Form Film Festival, a touring festival that he organized with Ryan Wylie of Innermissions Productions, which deals largely with documentaries. The festival opened in San Francisco and, after Salt Lake City, will appear in St. Louis and three other locations in Missouri.

Davies thinks this festival is much more solid than last year, citing a larger set of submissions to choose from.

“Without tearing down last year’s festival, I feel like sometimes when you put on a fest like this, you have trouble not putting in any filler. When a festival isn’t established, you might have trouble attracting people to submit, said Davies. “You want to have a large program and fill the space, but you want to have a lot of films worth showing.”

This year, Davies said that he had such a strong batch of applicants that he was in the happy, if unfortunate, position of having to cut good material: “There’s nothing in this fest that I look at as filler. Obviously, some pieces are better than others, but there’s a lot of talent and innovation…There are some pieces we wanted to show, but couldn’t.”

Davies’ enthusiasm for films of experimental shows through in the program. “Most works to some degree or another are experimental. They might not be totally abstract, but they try to find different ways of explaining information,” he said. He also said that the lack of narrative-based films reflects the submissions he received. “Most of our pieces are not narrative-based,” he said, “and that comes from what was submitted. I guess that our festival description attracted [experimental submissions].”

Works from Utah include some pieces by Davies, three pieces by Salt Laker Chris Gooch that Davies said “are all amazing,” “Don’t Blink” by Amy Caron and “Fingerhutt: The Anatomy of Sleep” by Magnus Henriksen from Provo.

Like he used Meredith Monk’s “Book of Days” as a draw at the festival last year, Davies also rented the feature-length “Spectres of the Spectrum” by noted San Francisco-based experimental filmmaker Craig Baldwin. It will be shown Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on 16mm. The film is a science-fiction epic sampling piece that uses clips from TV, industrial, educational and Hollywood films, odd special effects and other elements. Davies recommends “Spectres of the Spectrum” to filmmakers and film enthusiasts, although the three shorts programs, each with one screening at 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. on Friday, then 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“I’ve been recommending ‘Spectres of the Spectrum’ to filmmakers, but I think that the average person might enjoy the shorts—but I don’t want to word it that way,” Davies said, worried about sounding like a snob.

Davies has some favorites in the program. James Bogon’s “Cantata T-shirt” is a series of shots about how “people in South American are obsessed with T-shirts…Sometimes you wonder if the people wearing the shirt have any idea what the [English phrase] says.”

Paul Baker’s “Science Dub” is “a video art piece set to music. It’s all video feedback, but I didn’t even know that that’s what it was to begin with…It’s manipulated in really interesting ways.”

“One I think is really funny is called ‘Sunday School.’ It’s by a couple members of the band The Brand Flakes,” Davies said. The piece has a picture of a model family while a Christian record plays. At the end of the song, it starts going backward with subtitles. “You can tell that they just played the record backward and tried to imagine what the people were saying. It’ll have some satanic messages and then the next one will make no sense at all.”

The festival’s international entry, Daniel Bohm’s “Crazy” from Argentina, is a poetic dance piece. “It’s really amazingly filmed—it’s unfortunate that we don’t have a 16mm print of it.”

Also appearing are some films by Brooklyn-based musician and furniture designer Brian Dewan. They’re modeled after old slide-and-audio shows that were shown in schools before the days of video.

Davies is also excited about “Waveform Modulation” by Dan McElwee, a professor at Webster University in St. Louis.

In short, Davies is excited about his whole festival, and hopes many other people will be excited too.

The Free Form Film Festival takes place Nov. 14 and 15 at Kilby Court (330 W. 700 West). It costs $7 a night, which includes two programs. For more information, visit

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