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Dallas Video Festival: Local Shorts


by Manuel Mendoza 6 Nov 2008

One of the great losses in North Texas arts came two years ago when Fort Worth’s Bruce Wood Dance Company folded after a decade of homegrown modern choreography that traveled the world. Fallen Angel, written, produced, directed and edited by first-time Cowtown filmmaker Mark Whittier for $2,000, takes us backstage as the company prepares for […]

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One of the great losses in North Texas arts came two years ago when Fort Worth’s Bruce Wood Dance Company folded after a decade of homegrown modern choreography that traveled the world. Fallen Angel, written, produced, directed and edited by first-time Cowtown filmmaker Mark Whittier for $2,000, takes us backstage as the company prepares for the end of what would be its last full season.

The 15-minute documentary, screening at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at the Angelika, touches on the financial woes sweeping American dance companies. As it was, Wood was working with an annual budget of less than $500,000. But the film’s real accomplishment is in explaining — and more importantly showing — why the struggles were worth it. The exquisite photography of such masterpieces as “Dust, Texas,” “Follow Me” (commissioned by the U.S. Army!) and “Rhapsody in Blue” is a reminder of what Wood pulled off.

In talking about the differences between pleasing his audience and pandering to it, he says, “They want something remarkable to happen.” It usually did.

Fallen Angel plays as part of the compilation “Dance,” which also includes Dallas video production whiz Ben Britt‘s humorous Hot Wheels, four minutes of his better half, Carolyn Sortor, wheeling around in what looks like a walker against a variety of still backdrops. It’s goofy fun.

Also on Saturday, at noon, University of North Texas grad student Scott Thurman’s 14-minute Smokey takes us into the life of a shy, humble Elvis impersonator. City worker by day, hip shaker by night, Smokey Binion Jr. plies his pantomime in the small Panhandle town of Stinnett with low-key dignity. Quoting the King, he says, “An image is a hard thing to live up to.”

Smokey screens as part of the “Folks Like Us” compilation, which also includes Flower Mound filmmaker Omar Milano’s short doc A Tale for Shmuli, about an engaged couple fighting breast cancer.

Meanwhile, Gordon K. Smith’s Science Gone Wild! screens at 11:15 Thursday night. Smith, a Dallas actor, filmmaker, film researcher and host of “It Came From Dallas,” looks at the 1950s birth of science fiction films. He organizes wonderfully wacky clips into witty categories like “Space Travel for Dummies” and “When Seafood Goes Bad.”

“You mean if I went there, I wouldn’t weigh anything?” a woman asks in Project Moonbase (1953) after a scientist describes the properties of a space station. Featuring primitive robots, “guided meteors and deadly rays,” Science Gone Wild! takes the viewer back to a simpler time of conflict and paranoia.

Here’s an overview of the Dallas Video Festival, which runs tonight through Sunday.

Images courtesy Dallas Video Festival and Bruce Wood Dance Company

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