Conduit.3 Provides Window to the Future
by George Ratliff
Milling through the badge-dangling hordes at major film festivals always conjures up cynical questions such as "who are all of these people and what on earth are they doing here?" Those questions never came up at this year's Conduit Digital Film and Gaming Festival in Austin, Texas. The crowd at Conduit.3 attended the two-day festival because they understood that the future of film -- like it or not -- lay within the digital realm.
Conduit.3, which describes itself as "film reinvented for description by pixel," took place over March 14th and 15th. The festival's third year was smartly programmed to give a glimpse at the full spectrum of techno trends that have begun to blossom into artistic form. "Conduit's about change," said Tommy Pallotta, one of Conduit's three founders. "This year it's about connections between video game and film culture, and next year, who knows? Conduit will always be about what's coming ahead of the curve."
The highlights of the festival were found in the second shorts program. PanOptic's "Csoda Pok" (Wonder Spider) closed the program and can be described as a science fiction corporate video (if the corporation was the Third Reich). The piece has already sparked urban myths that the startling digital style will cause masses of children to drop to the floor twitching with epileptic seizures.
Other notable shorts were "Sneak Attack" directed by Syd Garon and Eric Henry -- amazing eye candy that approaches film the way hip-hop approaches music, and Chris Wedge's "Bunny," a beautiful piece of digital animation that won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
Also laudable were Richard Sandler's "The Gods of Times Square" which was shot on Hi-8 and a Sony VX-1000, and "Lars From 1-10," a short digitally-shot documentary about filmmaker Lars von Trier by Sophie Fiennes and Shari Roman. All pieces were projected by a state-of-the- art digital projector.
Conduit.3 also included a "Gaming Cinematics" section that highlighted the snippets of cinematic art that have risen to the surface of the video game world, and an "Experimental Ambient" section that pioneered visual possibilities without the burdens of narrative structure. At the back of the festival space, (which was held entirely within one large bar,) was the retro-game installation. It provided free play of all the great video games of the 1980s and gave attendees something to do during the slower parts of the festival. "It was no accident that we put the video games and a full bar in the same room that we screened the films," said Pallotta. "Part of what Conduit is about is exhibition. . . . To break the traditional rules of how we are suppossed to experience a movie."
Party entertainment was provided with the projection of the ResFest Cinema Electronica program and the projection of a mesmerizing performance by Live Nude Girls -- the digital multimedia mix artists out of Seattle.
Conduit.3 suffered many of the same problems of other young festivals: underfunding, lack of marketing, and a handful of staff running hard on miniscule amounts of sleep. But all of that was overridden by the excitment generated by the festival program. The three festival founders (Tommy Pallotta, Ben Davis and Katie Salen) should be praised for staying abreast of the rapidly changing digital world and providing attendees a window to the future of independent filmmaking.
[For more information on Conduit, check out the festival's website at: http://www.conduitfest.com.]
[George Ratliff is a filmmaker based in New York City.]
Digital Dogma: A Conduit Founder and Others Sound Off
[The following is part of a selection from a feature entitled "Every Dogma Has its Day." The feature was inspired by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg's controversial Dogma 95. The article originally appeared in the January/February issue of The Independent Film & Video Monthly. For more information about The Independent, check out: http://www.aivf.org/the_independent/]
Recent technology has opened a window of opportunity for filmmakers unlike any
that has come before. The ability to create without compromise, together with
the tools to exhibit one's work have given birth to a digital wave of
1. Distribution, not production, will determine the future of filmmaking.
2. Distribution will become global. Broadband (internet, satellite...)
delivery will provide artists with direct access to their audience.
3. We will end the indentured servitude to film and traditional theatrical
4. Venues can be anywhere people gather because digital projection will
become smaller, brighter, cheaper and better.
5. All formats are accepted; we will not privilge any media over another.
6. We will privilege ingenuity, invention and vision.
7. By sharing information resources, we will create an open environment for
the exchange and production of ideas, information, and labor.
8. The more people who make films, the better. Abundance through technology.
9. We will continually exploit the advances in new and affordable technology
as tools for self-expression.
10. All above rules must be broken.
[Tommy Pallotta is one of the founders of the Conduit Digital Film and
Gaming Festival and along with Bob Sabiston he directed the short film,
"Roadhead." Esther Robinson produced Doug Block's documentary "Home Page"
and currently works at Creative Capital. She also worked with Lance Weiler
and Stefan Avalos to release their movie "The Last Broadcast" in theaters