At some point in the past, the film techniques and approaches fans take for granted now were bold and innovative. A new film festival in Charlottesville this weekend will focus on filmmakers who are exploring new frontiers in genre, media, technology and expression.
The inaugural Odds & Ends Experimental Film Festival, which begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Charlottesville’s Vinegar Hill Theatre, will present 23 short films in live-action, 16-millimeter formats, computer-generated animation and other forms. Look for films from across the United States, as well as Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Iran, Sweden, Argentina and Canada.
The co-founders of the Odds & Ends Experimental Film Festival are Anna Hogg, who teaches studio art foundations and cinematography at the University of Virginia; Rachel Lane, program director at Light House Studio; and Jason Robinson, who teaches digital art and filmmaking at the University of Mary Washington.
All three are experimental filmmakers themselves, and they understand the frustrations the featured filmmakers often face. Films that live outside the mainstream often don’t get screened outside of festivals. Marketing and distribution structures also present hurdles, especially for filmmakers operating outside the customary funding patterns. Saturday’s event gives local audience members a chance to watch creative short films that ordinarily would be hard to find.
“It really is the odds and ends of experimental cinema,” Hogg told The Daily Progress. “First and foremost, it highlights experimental films. Our festival focuses on films that are functioning outside the mainstream.” These featured filmmakers, Hogg said, “are doing something different.”
Lane said audience members can expect to see a variety of new technologies and approaches — and some sheer joy — expressed “in a playful and exploratory way.”
Light House Studio, which helps young filmmakers learn their craft and discover their voices, is welcoming the festival to Vinegar Hill Theatre.
“We’re so excited that Light House has supported us,” Lane said. “It’s really a delightful opportunity to be able to use this space.”
According to Hogg, Vinegar Hill Theatre, which has been a haven for independent film efforts for decades, offers another advantage that Odds & Ends filmmakers dream of: the opportunity to see their creations on the large screen.
“It’s wonderful to see these films projected so large,” Hogg said. “It will be amazing.”
The films cover a wide range of subjects. One is an experimental documentary that focuses on forgotten women in the animation industry. Another film’s creator donned a fish costume to gain insights into life as a fish. A third tries to figure out what dogs actually think about the concept of death.
Question-and-answer sessions will be provided after the screenings, so audience members can learn more about the filmmakers, the processes they use and the inspirations behind them. And fans who enjoy Saturday’s event can look forward to seeing other experimental creations in the future.
“We definitely want to grow and have this festival every year,” Hogg said.
If you’re new to experimental films, come with an open mind, sit back and see what you think. Your next favorite film might defy all your current expectations.
“You may end up thinking about it for days afterward,” Hogg said. “For me, that’s often the sign of a good film.”
Tickets are $15 and $10. Learn more at lighthousestudio.org/oddsandends.