Festival Focus: Music Videos on the Big Screen at Tucson Film and Music Festival

7 Oct

I cannot tell you how many times I have looked dreamily at the shorts line-up of some faraway film festival, desperately wishing someone would fly me to Austin, Venice, or even Cleveland. That rarely ends up happening. However, as is often the case, we have the Internet to thank for a consolation prize of sorts. The Short Rounds: Fantastic Fest piece I put together for Movies.com last week is a good example of what I’ll try accomplishing here. The experience of attending a film festival in person is irreplaceable, but here at ShortStack we’ll do the best we can remotely. To kick things off: Tucson Film and Music Festival, running now through Monday.

Now, there are a number of cool things on the TFMF program I could talk about. There’s Guru, a documentary short I saw at Tribeca this year. It’s fantastic, an unsettling psychological tour de force that looks at a motivational speaker spiraling out of control. There’s a new fiction short by Chad Hartigan, which looks interesting and which I’m sure I’ll have cause to write about once I’ve seen it. Neil LaBute even pops up, having written the screenplay of an inevitably bold short called After-School Special. Yet in spite of all that, the one aspect of the fest that draws me in the most is their Music Video-Rama. Music videos are easily seen on the web but almost never on the big screen, and the very idea of having a festival program of music videos is pretty cool.

Of course, if you’re not in Tucson you don’t have much chance to actually catch the event. Thankfully, most of the videos are available online. Here are a few favorites:

Backyard, by Copacabana Club – Directed by Thales Quadros

This one is, admittedly, a bit strange. Yet there’s something oddly compelling about offbeat lyrics belted out in heavily accented English. I quite like the book-ending of Mozart’s Requiem and Ravel’s Bolero, drastically different music that sets a fantastically otherworldly mood. The eerie train sequence helps subvert the typical “band performing in front of the camera in interesting clothes” set up that often cripples a music video before it even begins to get interesting. The costume and setting changes help too, keeping you somewhere between entertained and accosted.

Black Keys by Brianna Carpenter – Directed by Øyvind Welle

Watch here.

“Normal’s mediocre anyway,” sings this perhaps whimsical songstress as she tries finding her way out of an impromptu magical labyrinth. The nice thing about music videos is that an entirely silly narrative premise is just a good opportunity for lush art direction and other visually playful elements. According to the Vimeo description, Brianna is trapped until she can find the right key to get out of this weird world. According to us, that matters nowhere near as much as the attractive combination of her vocal skill and increasingly impressive hair styles. The colors are vivid and the contrast is effective – it’s a beautiful three and a half minutes.

Ivan by Leika Mochan – Directed by Marcos Villaseñor & Carlotta Cardana

Watch here.

Ok, so I appear to be in a whimsical mood today. But this clip is great, in spite of its parade of dancing vegetables. Actually, it’s great because of its parade of dancing vegetables. No festival is worth its salt without at least one example of wonderful stop-motion animation, and this is it. A simple exercise in food preparation turns into a dramatic tale of vegetables in love. Enjoy.


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