It is delicate confession for an arts and culture blogger to confess a certain level of discomfort with avant garde cinema. At times it seems the imagery and nonsensical connections are paralleled in their extremity only by the level of seriousness with which they are taken. For my part, I found the offerings at “cosmo(s)politan: an evening of film and video” — part of the weekend-long Detroit Design Festival — to inspire a wide range of responses in me; seriousness, yes, but also a great deal of hilarity.
The event took place in the Jam Handy Building on E. Grand Blvd, and the location itself was quite inspiring. Once the independent film studio of former Olympic bronze-medalist-come-instructional-filmmaker of Henry Jamison “Jam” Handy, more recently converted into living quarters and an event space by brothers Nat and Simeon Hayer, the building has an incredible skylight over the main room, and a creaky, authentic feel. The perfect setting for a night of largely contemporary short films, which varied in length from one to 15 minutes, in medium from 16 mm to Super 8, to VHS, to HD, and subjects as diverse as the individual minds from which they issued.
During intermission, when I quietly confessed my bewilderment over some of the more esoteric first act offerings, Cass Corridor artist Robert Sestok gamely attempted an explanation, “I believe the idea is to watch it, and then see what sticks with you later.” A simple, useful concept, which greatly enhanced the second half viewing for me. Overall, a wonderful night of cinema in an outstanding location, which will hopefully continue to act as contributor and host to aspects of Detroit’s cultural landscape.
As for those images that stuck with me, well, that’s between me and the transvestite in a dog suit, eating a giant chocolate fish. Above, please enjoy the debut of my avant garde film about viewing avant garde cinema.