ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.12 - MARCH 2001
The Scarves of Sundance
(continued from page 8)
Parting Thoughts and Notions
I hope Sundance continues to have an online component to their festival. It's good for online work to get notice and to be brought into greater dialogue with a wider audience. The more opportunities for people working in the online field to come together and meet each other, the greater the chances are for cross-fertilization and sideways sparks of inspiration. By facilitating this, festivals contribute to the evolution of the art form and Sundance could certainly cultivate a role as one of the midwives of this newly emerging medium.
While I understand the philosophical impulses behind Sundance's decision to keep the online festival on monitors, in its native environment so to speak, I hope they rethink this. Of course it would be possible to relegate the online festival completely to "cyberspace," without any physical, corresponding presence in Park City -- but I think this would be running in the wrong direction, and wasting the cultural capital Sundance brings to the enterprise. Sundance has great value as a physical place, where filmmakers, producers and curious bystanders can be brought together in fruitful networks. An actual screening of the online films would be nice. While the online experience tends to be an intimate one, with one or two people sitting close to their monitor, a festival experience is a necessarily communal one. Screenings concentrate peoples' attention and curiosity, and create a real dialog with the work. A screening becomes an "event" that people feel they are a part of. Interactive online films, which don't have a linear narrative, could be shown as demonstrations, with the filmmakers guiding the audience through a few variations. There's no reason why monitors couldn't be provided in addition, for the curious to work out their own variations when the screening is over. In this way, Sundance could provide a bridge to the work -- acting as an educator and de-mystifier.
Despite all the hype and anti-hype surrounding online film, the Web is here to stay as a venue for truly independent film -- films that are done on the cheap, films that evolve out of a deeply personal vision, films that push the boundaries of narrative structure. If the focus is on the work, and there's plenty of good work online, a situation that will only improve, no other excuses need be made.
Chris Lanier is the creator of the Web cartoon Romanov, running on www.wildbrain.com.
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