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Adam Csoka Keller – Echtes Leder

This enigmatic and hauntingly lyrical short film directed by Adam Csoka Keller, entitled Echtes Leder (“Genuine Leather”), explores themes of death, deterioration, and creation, juxtaposing images of human flesh with decaying objects in the midst of deserted and dilapidated settings. It features a startlingly dynamic score by V. R. Alevizos.

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The Color of Pomegranates

The Color of Pomegranates is an exquisite cinematic experience, quietly, abstractly dazzling and chimerical. This beautiful avant-garde 1968 Armenian film by director Sergei Parajanov is a non-narrative, impressionistic, and highly stylized biography of 18th-century poet Sayat-Nova. Composed of a series of moving tableaux or vignettes and prominently featuring Parajanov’s muse, the enigmatic beauty Sofiko Chiaureli, the movie is divided into eight chapters: Childhood, Youth, The Prince’s Court, The Monastery, The Dream, Old Age, The Angel of Death, and Death. It has little dialogue, though there are sound and music. Existing almost as pure visual poetry, it extravagantly abounds with surreal, symbolic imagery and is such a distinct piece of visionary cinema.




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The Reigning of the Moth

The Reigning of the Moth is a delightful short film by artist Katie Eleanor. Jumping back and forth between color and black-and-white, this oneiric offering is full of surreal imagery and the charming disjointedness of a silent film. A young girl encounters a group of black-garbed, witch-like beings in the forest, who attempt to transform her. I love the design of the intertitles. Occult, nonlinear, eerie, and whimsical, this film is a love song to past cinema and is hauntingly piquant in its own right.

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Naomi Kizhner’s “Energy Addicts”

Energy Addicts is a project by Israeli graduate student Naomi Kizhner. Kizhner, a designer and “trend theorist,” seeks to “provoke the thought about how far we will go in order to ‘feed’ our addiction in the world of declining resources.” The project comprises three devices, the Blinker, the E-Pulse Conductor, and the Blood Bridge – jewelry pieces which harness the body’s energy to generate electrical power. Some of them are embedded into the veins, and thus invasive.

Kizhner plays with the idea of human bodies as “biological wealth.” Using “invasive gold and biopolymer devices,” electromagnets, micro energy cells, and micro turbines, she turns the wearer into a natural resource, where “simple movements performed by the subconscious are fully utilized” – provoking interesting questions about ethics and the quantification of the individual. The Blinker extracts energy from blinks of the eyelids, the Blood Bridge uses a hypodermic needle inserted into the arm and circulates blood through the wheel, turning it, and the E-Pulse Conductor is inserted in veins near the spine and picks up electrical impulses.

This ingenious project is simultaneously technological wizardry, fashion statement, and social commentary. She has also made a short film to accompany it, which depicts individuals using their bodies to light up their world in a way that makes it meaningful for them, drawing them further into this addiction, but also seeming to drain them. It is as if they only feel alive when they can have this visionary reality before them, which requires their energy to manifest; so what makes them feel alive is what ironically enervates and devitalizes them, and is also what closes them off to any other world, perpetuating the cycle.

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Antiviral

Antiviral is the directorial debut of Brandon Cronenberg, the son of the master of “body horror,” David Cronenberg. It bears a marked similarity to his father’s work, but still manages to hold its own, has a distinct style, and is not merely a copy of Cronenberg films like Videodrome and eXistenZ. It’s eerie and fascinating, a subtle combination of horror, science fiction, and surreal atmosphere. The visual style has an elegant spareness and crispness that is pure and precise. I found it well worth watching, and very interesting.

The protagonist is Syd March, played by the beautiful yet intensely sinister Caleb Landry Jones. He works for a company which sells live viral infections harvested from the bodies of celebrities to customers who yearn to share their illnesses, and commune with them via the shared infection. This film brings up some intriguing concepts about the survival of the human body past the death of the individual. For one, it makes the point that to viruses, the human body in itself is irrelevant, it is the host cells, the basic biological level, which matter. One of the characters makes a reference to the first human immortal cell line, telling March that the cells of a woman who died of cancer in the 1950s are still alive and being grown today, so that at least on a biological level, her death has not been complete. He comments that “the afterlife is getting extremely perverse.”