New Frontier curator melds arts, science and film
January 16, 2009
There is no application process for Sundance’s New Frontier section. There are no rules, really. In fact, the most important criteria is that an artist is breaking the rules in some new way.
Shari Frilot, a senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, and curator of the three-year-old New Frontier category prowls the country looking for novel intersections of science, art and film.
"I go to film festivals, surf websites, talk to all my friends a lot of phone calls and a lot of plane rides," she said on the eve of the festival’s opening day.
She may not be able to explain exactly what she is looking for, but Frilot’s radar is honed in on artists who are willing to take risks to tell their stories in new ways. If prodded for a more precise definition of the type of work that will fit in to the eclectic mix of films and installations, she suggests it should "explode the traditional proscenium experience in a theater."
This year Frilot chose six feature-length films, three short films and seven installations that defy description.
The films, which challenge viewers to examine everything from beekeepers to factory workers can be seen throughout the 10-day festival on several of the festival screens around town. The installations play simultaneously on the lower level of the Main Street Mall from noon to 7 p.m. and are open to the public as space permits.
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Frilot is also hoping the cozy underground space will serve as a place for filmmakers to connect. "One thing that excites me is when an artist connects with some new technology. In past years New Frontier has provided a convergence of imagination."
Among this year’s installations are Candice Breitz’ "Mother and Father" highlighting close-ups of famous actors and actresses emoting about parenthood on six screens. Omar Fast’s "The Casting" combines footage of two separate incidents in Iraqi in a way that "remixes emotions and memories."
In the micro-theater a series of videos by Maria Marshall play in a continuous mesmerizing loop. One depicts a child shooting a gun and then reacting to the bullet’s unseen aftermath.
Filmmakers who drop in will also have a chance to try out what may be a revolutionary new way to edit film. At Frilot’sd urging John and Peter Underkoffler chose this week to unveil their new technology dubbed Tamper. Wearing gloves reminiscent of those worn by Tom Cruise in the "Minority Report" when sorting though video files of murder cases, the brothers pull images from footage projected on a wall and move them to a drawing table.
"It opens a whole new way of thinking about editing film footage you are essentially making a collage of moving images," Frilot says with obvious excitement.
During the week the exhibit’s sponsors, Avid, Sony and Panavision will offer a series of panel discussions on both technical and aesthetic issues like file-based formats and creating that "Lean Forward Moment." Presenters will also participate in panels about web content and how new technology is affecting distribution.
To learn more about the New Frontier schedule log on to sundance.org/festival/filmguide/frontier