The Phantom Storm of Eden
March 8-10, 2012 will mark the 20th Anniversary of Calgary Society for Independent Film makers $100 Film Festival. For anyone who has not gone before, the $100 Film Festival is unlike any other film festival you will see in this city. The $100 Film Festival features exclusively celluloid small format film (8mm and 16mm). The films in the festival are underground independent films that are usually very expressive in their storytelling in comparison to mainstream cinema. The $100 Film Festival received its name from the first festival in 1992 where the cost of 8mm film and processing totaled $100. Fast-forward a few years, the prices of celluloid film and processing (especially 16mm film) have increased exponentially, but subsequently the name has stuck.
One of the films in this year’s festival that grabbed my attention and kept me thinking was Japanese director Shinya Isobe’s film Eden. Eden opens with a framed shot of a cassette recorder playing a female voice chanting softly in Japanese, a close-up shot of a cup of tea and a burning cigarette in an ashtray. The following establishing shot of the interior space is a vacant room, lit from the exterior of the space, which is overcast and foggy. The vacant room contains two chairs, seated at the table where the cassette player, the tea and cigarette burning in the ashtray are placed on. The main themes in this film are life and death, or existing and disappearing. The vacancy of the interior and exterior space of the concrete building and the skeletal frame that stands among the ruins within. Human life ceases to exist in this space, however there are symbols of life in the diagetic sounds of birds chirping, lush green leafy plants coming through the cracks and windows into the buildings, and the human objects placed on the table inside the vacant room. Eden exudes a nostalgic metaphor for traditional life cycle through existing within a space with the imposition of the cultural values of Japan. The passage of time is shown through change of seasons, and time lapsed photography, from lush greenery to the blizzarding stormy landscape. There were elements of the film that challenged tradition and the importance of the Japanese culture, in terms of economy. As the film progresses, the Japanese chanting becomes subtitled, and mentions the “phantom” buildings. The English subtitles express transition being expressed in consideration to the West, and how technology has moved in and added a different element to worldly existence. The ringing telephone interrupts the film world, perhaps the same way Western ideas have interrupted Japanese values of the past. Toward the end of the film there is a loud electric guitar riff and the film flashes red, changing the look of everything on the screen. The red flashes seemed representational of the imposition of the Japanese culture on the present. Eden is 15 minutes in length and is a 16mm film. Japanese director Shinya Isobe is 30 years old and studied film from the Tokyo Zokei University Graduate School (2007), and is also a graduate of the Image Forum Image Research Institute (2010). For a short film, Eden has a lot to say and expresses beauty of nature and the distruction of natural resources and the effect they have on the geography and socio-economic conditions of a landscape. The skeletal buildings in this film were once home to a population of 10,000 people in Iwate Hachimantai. Once, the place was called “the paradise on clouds”, and now a ghost town. It was formerly known as the home of Japan’s largest sulfur mine, the Matsuo Gouzan mine.
This years $100 Film Festival will take place at Alberta College for Art and Designs Stanford Perrott Lecture Theater (1407 14 Avenue NW), which will be a nice change from previous years when the Festival was held at the Plaza Theatre. March 10, 2012 (After party @ Cafe Koi – #100, 1011 – 1st Street SW Calgary, AB.; 10pm-on)
CSIF Offices (NOTE: NEW ADDRESS – 223 12 Avenue SW)
Cafe Koi – #100, 1011 – 1st Street SW
Bogies Casablanca Video (Mission – Unit 12 — 2100 4St SW)
Prices: $12 General Admission; $10 CSIF Members, Students & Seniors;
$7 ACAD Students