Film isn’t just for Hollywood, as shown by the moving image showcase VCUarts students presented in Gallery 5 entitled “Hold Still, Keep Moving” last week.
Sponsored by the James River Film Society, students in the kinetic imaging, cinema arts and photography and film departments presented work that ranged from short narratives to flash animations as one of the closing events of the 18th-annual James River Film Festival.
The James River Film Society started as part of the photography and film and art history departments here at VCU and then branched off as an independent organization. Now completely volunteer-run, the society works to promote Richmond- and central Virginia-based film, holding events like the James River Film Festival and an annual juried show.
The night’s master of ceremonies expressed the organization’s joy in bringing together these three similar, but unique, programs before introducing the kinetic imaging department.
Kinetic imaging, as described by co-chair Pam Turner, tries to “blur the lines of sound and moving image.” And that they did.
Some pieces were simple like the three-minute video by Adam Rosenburg entitled “Self Portrait” – the director dancing and moving to original music – while others were much more experimental. John Dombroski, a senior in this program with a minor in sculpture, wove YouTube videos together with image distortion to create a piece he called “Synapse.”
Other pieces from the department encompassed many different forms of moving images. Taylor Russell and Adam Shipp presented a piece entitled “Thus Cometh Bill Cosby,” a flash animation that depicts a Bill Cosby-shaped meteor destroying an alien existence. Turner says that the kinetic imaging program prepares students to move into any field of media, be it sound, animation or film.
After a Q-and-A period with the kinetic imaging students, cinema arts put on a 21-minute narrator, “My Fourth Wife Drove Me To My Fifth.”
The cinema program focuses on large, collaborative productions that allow students to have a hand in every part of filmmaking. The department holds summer intensives to help achieve that goal. These programs enable students to manage a budget and production roles over summer break to create a film picked from student screenplays by the department professors.
Representing the submitted film were its producer, screenwriter and director. Inspired by a song written by the director’s father in the ’90s, “My Fourth Wife Drove Me To My Fifth” focused on a man from Los Angeles who goes through an arduous time after he finds is younger wife is unfaithful. Shot in Richmond and Virginia Beach to create the city of LA, the piece was a result of one of the department’s summer intensives.
A slight merger of kinetic imaging and cinema, the photography and film department presented documentaries, narratives and some artistic shorts shot with both classic and modern techniques, including digital film, 16mm and Super 8.
Unlike the more experimental kinetic imaging shorts, the photography and film department brought a classic feel to their work as one director, Harrison Möenich, a senior photography and film double major, presented a horror piece entitled “Harbinger.” A reaction to modern horror – “a blood and guts show” – Möenich said he wanted to bring the genre back to its roots, based “not on what is shown, but what isn’t shown.”
Photography and film is less of a collaborative program than cinema, but the shorts still involved crews. Students had to find their production teams and pay for most of the expenses themselves. Films from this department paralleled the other department in proficiency of craft, with two students – Tommy Bell and Jonathan Kemp, creators of a short titled “The Gauntlet” – being offered the chance to be shown at another show later in the year.
The James River Film Festival wrapped up April 13 with a showing of “New Jerusalem” in the Grace Street Theater.