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2001 American Short Shorts Film Festival – Digital or Traditional

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2001-07-07

With every passing day, the dawn of this year’s American Short Shorts film festival comes closer and closer and the levels of anticipation in many fans rise higher and higher. This year’s film festival is looking to be a bang with many gifted young American and Japanese filmmakers displaying their short films, which could lead them into the entertainment business. This year’s American Short Shorts Film Festival will be held at the Okinawa Convention Center on July 7 and 8 and will be featuring 27 short films. The theme of this upcoming festival: Film vs Digital. “As we depart on our journey into the 21st century, visual entertainment finds itself in a whirlpool of change with advances in technology pushed along by a wave called the digital revolution,” says Tetsuya Bessho, Executive Director of the Committee for American Short Shorts. “A digital revolution is falling upon the film industry, but it remains to be seen if digital methods threaten to overthrow traditional filmmaking altogether or to what extent digital and traditional filmmaking might coexist.”

So will digital filmmaking ever completely replace traditional methods? The committee for American Short Shorts asked this year’s selection of ASSFF filmmakers if they thought digital filmmaking would replace traditional filmmaking. 62% said yes. “I often hear people complaining that the accessibility of digital will flood the marketplace with films,” says Allan Brocka, creator of Rick and Steve. However, “The availability of pen and ink, paint and brush, did not flood the world with useless art and literature, it merely created a level playing field from which either a bored bourgeoisie prince or penniless alcoholic could pick up a pen and create an influential piece of art.” Many filmmakers dive into digital production because of the speed and ease one can make a film, but some artists just aren’t interested in faster production. According to Beck Underwood, creator of That Creepy Old Doll, “As an animator, speed and ease are two things that do not interest me. I feel that the process with which I ‘capture’ images is very important to me; the sensation of moving a puppet’s hands 120 times to get a 5 second gesture, the feel of my Bolex [camera] as I click one frame at a time, then rewind after about 650 frames (27 seconds) have been captured, all these are part of why I make films.”

So which is it--Digital or Film? “Ultimately, the central issue is STORY, and this has not changed since Aristotle,” says Greg Durbin, creator of Boundaries. He continues, “There is still no substitute for an engaging, well-articulated and dimensional story. As explosions, stupendous car crashes, and spectacular digital backdrops become easier to put on the screen, I believe they will become pedestrian and even boring, eventually throwing the focus back onto the story itself.”

Plenty of fresh new stories will be told at this year’s American Short Shorts Festival, many new perspectives will be given, and many new faces will be seen. In years gone by, many aspiring directors used short films to break into the film industry. One such director, George Lucas, creator of Lucas Arts and the legendary film Star Wars, has been a supporter of the festival since its inaugural year. The Sundance Film Festival, another supporter of the festival, expressed their support for the American Short Shorts Film Festival in a letter stating, “What brought so much attention to short film ten years ago was a burgeoning of creative energy. Now both directing and production values are very strong, and the genre has matured as an important art form. I am delighted to offer my support to the Committee of ‘American Short Shorts’, and wish it success in showcasing the work of young filmmakers from the United States.”

This year’s festival is looking to be an exciting event for all who attend. The work of many talented filmmakers will be showcased, and who knows, maybe one of these filmmakers will be the next legend in the film industry.

For more information on this year’s American Short Shorts Film Festival or to add your perspective into the “Digital vs. Film” debate, visit the official festival website at www.americanshortshorts.com.

Place: Okinawa Convention Center, Theater Hall
Start: July 7 11:30am
Ticket: ADV ¥1200, DOOR ¥1500 for each program or ¥3000 to see all three programs (ADV ONLY!)
Ticket Sale Locations: Ryubo, Mitsukoshi, Coop Okinawa, Ticket Pia, Family Mart, Lawson, and Book Box

Pre-events:
7/6/01 – Commercial Festival featuring 200 of the world’s best commercials. ADV ¥2000, DOOR ¥2500. Start: 6:00pm.
7/6/01 – Charity Event featuring a showing of the film “Blue Remain”, a Computer Animation film made in Okinawa. ADV ¥500, DOOR ¥800. Start: 3:00pm.

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