This week’s Frame of Mind is all about beauty and wonder. We’re screening finalists’ short films from two different Texas film competitions: CineSpace and Sight of Sound. The CineSpace theme is space exploration. Sight of Sound focuses on the relationship between film and music.
In 2015 NASA and The Houston Cinema Arts Society launched an experimental film competition they dubbed CineSpace. The focus of the competition is to unite experimental film-making and space exploration.
Richard Herskowitz, art director for the cinema arts society since 2008, co-founded the new contest. (This year’s finalists will be announced in October.) He says the competition isn’t a NASA ad-fest. The selection team picked imaginative and unusual pieces that say something significant about space and its relation to humanity. The best shorts also capture the thrill of film and space exploration.
The competition challenges filmmakers to use a certain amount of NASA archival footage or photos in their entries. Director Richard Linklater (“Boyhood,” “Dazed and Confused”) chose the winners from a shortlist whittled by a jury. NASA also selects two films that receive special awards. Here are the 2015 finalists screening on “Frame of Mind.”
Directed by: Mary Magsamen and Stephen Hillerbrand
The plot: A family sets out to capture the wonder of the final frontier.
Awarded: 1st place
Directed by: Benjamin Eck
The plot: A call to exploration
Awarded: Film Best Depicting Spirit of Future Exploration of Space
Directed by: Fernando Dueñas Peña
The plot: A creatively animated short about a robot who must find a new home planet for humans.
Awarded: 2nd place
Director: Guy Shahaf
The plot: 37 second 3D animation short with an unexpected finish.
Directed by: Alexandre B. Lampron
The plot: Two siblings, enraptured with the idea of space travel, set out to explore the vast unknown.
Awarded: 3rd place
Sight of Sound
In 2013, Richard McKay got the idea to flip the relationship between film scoring and filmmaking on its head. So the art director and conductor of the Dallas Chamber Symphony founded Sight of Sound. Usually, films are shot and then, scored later. But Sight of Sound reverses the process. Directors pick a piece of classical music, and use it as a score to a silent film. The Dallas Chamber Symphony then performs the scores live when the finalists’ films are screened.
Courtney Ware, a finalist in 2015, says reversing the process allowed her explore new ways of constructing a narrative for her film Blue Disquietude.
“It was really freeing oddly enough to already have the music there. It was almost like trying to flex those muscles of creativity within guidelines and within a box almost forces you to be more creative.”
Directed by: Courtney Ware
The plot: A woman struggles to be free of her inner turmoil.
Directed by: Lili Gu
The plot: A humorous romance, about a scientist who finds love while studying chimpanzees.
Directed by: Jade Small
The plot: A story about the relationship between a single father and his artistic daughter.
Awarded: Best Picture of Sight of Sound 2016
Directed by: H. Paul Moon
The plot: A film commenting on conservation and humankind’s relationship to the earth.
Directed by: Aparna Hegde
The plot: With their honor on the line, two gentlemen engage in an eating contest to the death.
Awarded: Audience Choice of Sight of Sound 2016
Directed by: Aleks Rastovic
The plot: An homage to femme fatales through different eras of film.
Awarded: Best Picture of Sight of Sound 2015
Directed by: Silivia Lara
The plot: Two men race against one another to claim a mysterious prize.
Awarded: Audience Choice of Sight of Sound 2015
Directed by: Caitlin Brown
The plot: A story of brotherly love and the lengths one must go to for it.