Special Report By Moira Sullivan
In the middle of Sweden is the heart of the country. This is where the red wooden Dala horses with painted ornate flowers are made in the province of Dalarna. And here in a town called Borlänge, which literally means 'living far away', is where the first Virtual Film Festival was held May 2-4, hosted by the Museum of the Future and the Polygon Prize Society headed by Sven Ove Ericsson . It is not surprising that this was the first festival of its kind as Sweden is the reigning IT capital of the world.
Virtual film is no newcomer to the world of film festivals because nowadays movies are showcases for new technology. The word 'virtual' can mean different things, of course, but of the 30 films selected as finalists were some common denominators:
1) everything is created in the computer such as 3D animation and interactive programming, which makes it 'virtual'. 2) the landscape of the films often resembles a labyrinth. Objects move within navigable space into tunnels, passages, doorways. 3) there is a feeling of timelessness. And, in that these films require enormous amounts of time, if you don't happen to have a Disney budget, they tend to be on the short side.
I noticed that the contestants were talented men and women in their 20's and 30's with visions of transforming the heart of Sweden into a' state of the art 'virtual world in the midst of beautiful lakes, green valleys and forests. The area is really on the move where companies, creators, and politicians are transforming the virtual architecture. Invited guests, such as myself, brought ideas from the world of film narration, in this meeting place of art and technology.
Parallel with the film competition, several 'cyber films' were shown such as Matrix and Terminator 2. Here the cyborg--half-man, half-machine-- is featured in full force. But whereas this particular fusion set in the future is often portrayed as sinister and deadly, similar elements were 'virtually' absent at the Borlänge festival.
1st prize went to Martin Popovac for 'Swing it', a simple fully executed sequence of a toy man finding a ball and hitting it--revealing step-by-step finely polished craftsmanship. The second prize went to Vladislav Holst for 'Primeval Encounter', a meeting between two creatures on a distant planet each with their own method of self-propulsion. The clever one knocks off the superfluous extensions of the other. Jan Riegler's' Cathedral', the third prize winner, reminded me of a Japanese animation film with its superior craftsmanship. A young man enters a Cathedral and follows its windy labyrinthian interior. This huge matrix then metamorphosizes into a tiny detail in a vast landscape of pillars sporting similar edifices.
Special prizes went to Camilla Wikström for an interactive dance program featuring Swedish dance band music and Eric Thelander for a lively green 'Mr Death'. Its encouraging that the best professional prize went to a colorful animated future Metropolis symbolizing the work of 'Skanska', a Swedish contractor, assembled from drawings by children. This entry can be now seen on screens in the subway system in Stockholm. The professional prize , a beautifully sculpted goddess, called the Polygon Prize statue can be seen at the festival website: http://www.virtualfilmfestival.nu
The next festival is be held in Falun in the same province if you want to witness an area in a state of brilliant flux. This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International
© 2000 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 5/00
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