Diverse festivals celebrate diverse film

Amy Hackbarth

Driving from his St. Louis Park home to classes at the University every day last year, Charlie Gerszewski watched the photographs depicting life on Lake Street that he saw lining area storefronts.

“I think he was taking art to the next level by literally taking it to the streets,” Gerszewski said of the photographer, Wing Young Huie.

When he was asked to make a digital video in his documentary journalism class at the University, Gerszewski remembered the 675 black and white photographs. Along with graduate Jason Van Theil, he contacted the photographer and created a documentary about the project.

The result, a 5-minute video titled Lake Street USA, will be shown as part of the Dig.it Digital Film Festival at the Walker Art Center starting Oct. 24.

The festival, which celebrates advancements in digital media, includes digital films from both local students and artists from around the world, as well as seminars and workshops facilitated by new media experts.

“Our goal is to make something that has never been done before,” said Melody Gilbert, a University journalism professor who worked on the festival’s steering committee. “And to have a film festival focusing strictly on digital film is something I’ve never heard of.”

Students from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the Minneapolis Community and Technical College and the University will present their work in a forum at 6 p.m. on Oct. 25.

Work from University students was determined by the number of awards it won, Gilbert said. She chose Lake Street USA and Black Hair – by University student Rebecca Nathan and graduates Lola Okusami and Kathy Ohm- to run at the festival. Both films have won awards from the Northwest Broadcast News Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, and will run against each other for a Minnesota Emmy late this month.

The six other films to be shown range from the poetic short film Digitopia, about a man who falls in love with an indifferent prostitute, to the dry German film The Creators of the Shopping Worlds, which examines the process of creating a shopping mall.

Panel discussions, workshops and exhibitions will round out the remainder of the festival. Advertisers will discuss the influences of new media on their field. Visiting filmmakers and others will speak on the future of digital media.

Digital film use has been bolstered by advancements in technology and lower prices in digital film equipment, Gilbert said.

“Before digital you had to hire a crew, work with the lighting, get a camera and buy the film,” Gilbert said. “Now that the price of the equipment is getting lower, more and more people are using it to make documentaries.”

Amy Hackbarth encourages comments at [email protected]