Extra Short Film Festival

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Art Frontier

Extra short film – is there such a thing? Yes, indeed. TV channel IDs, web cartoons,
pneumatic porn (just back and forth,) visual hobbyism and self-made conceptual art.
These marginal forms have only one thing in common: length of about one minute or
less. That, and Extra Short Film Festival (ESF) based in Moscow. The festival is run
by Dmitry Bulnygin, a contemporary artist and VJ. The jury includes theorists and
practitioners of visual arts, hip art critics and old-fashioned film scholars casting their
votes by phone or e-mail and regularly rotating to make room for new members. They
come from all sorts of places: Siberia, Moscow, Eastern Europe, etc. However, year
after year there is certain coherence to final selections. Winners include conceptual
video, mini performances and other gallery displays, as well as creative efforts of
programmers (audience choice is determined by online survey.) In the interest of full
exposure, I was a jury member twice voting for stunt films akin to early silent cinema,
and “raw” aggressive art brut. Winning entries were something else altogether. Every
festival organizer, provided he is a leader and a professional, is first and foremost a
politician promoting his own views about principles and trends of his art form.

Extra Short Film Festival found a rather shifting niche, a place where opposites meet,
a creative frontier. The competition program proves better than any debates that not
every motion picture is a movie, or film proper. And it’s not about the difference in
technologies – it’s the difference in grammar of thought process. An artist cares for
“message,” a filmmaker looks for crafty stunt. Both share time limit and inclination
for instant paradox and yearning for sure-fire surprise. Cinema and gallery art are
bridged by a gag, an elementary particle of any narration. Today, extra short film and
video is a no-man’s land lacking clear borderlines between possible and impossible,
with no barriers between a dilettante and a master. Here is the place of creative
brewing. ESF helps to understand and follow this process.

Sergei Anashkin, film critic