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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 6/4/99

Film-Fest DV
Volume 1, Issue 1 - Sundance
(1999) BroadcastDVD

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Film Fest 1:1 Sundance Film Ratings: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/B+

Specs and Features

130 mins, NR, some shorts are letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1) and some are full frame (1.33:1), various interviews, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, production notes for each short (accessible by pressing the title/guide button on remote), commentary tracks for each short (including director/star Ari Gold on Culture, director Rick Dublin on Bubblepac, director Chris Landreth on Bingo, director Noah Laracy and director of photography Cirt Fey on The Clock, Christophe Jolly and producer Gina Joly on 10 Seconds, director Aaron Feldman and producer Oritte Bendory on An Incident Near Falaise, and two tracks on Whacked! with director Rolf Gibbs), film-themed menu screens with dialogue, scene access (29 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English

In the tradition of Short Cinema Journal, here comes an all-new digital magazine entitled Film-Fest DV. It's edgy, it's smart and I like it. Put out by new kid on the block BroadcastDVD, Film-Fest focuses its energy on Sundance and its surrounding festivals - NoDance, Slamdance and my personal favorite, Lapdance.

The disc is broken up into different areas. The first is Features, where we spend a couple minutes getting acquainted with the different players at some of the festivals, the mentality of said players, and some of the attitudes at the particular festivals themselves. For example, Sundance is all about studio players being seen and seeing, Slamdance is about the coolness of independent film, and Lapdance is all about getting drunk with naked chicks. The next area on the disc is Festival Shorts, where the smaller shorts can be found. There are a few films here that are truly cool. Culture (a minute-long, sensory experience with a helluva payoff) and Bingo (a play put to digital animation, featuring clowns inflicting some mental torture on a guy) had me holding my jaw up - they're that good. We also have Film-Fest Selects, a place where you will find the some of the longer shorts -- the best being one entitled 10 Seconds, in which a man finds himself facing a pretty cruel and unusual punishment (even if it is fair). Second to last, there are the interviews, which aren't all that interesting (hopefully the guys at Broadcast will be able to do some longer, and more thorough ones in the future). The interviews they have on this first disc seem more like CNN newscast sound bytes, and they don't quite fulfill. Finally, there is a coming attraction piece that features trailers, a making of featurette for the mixed-up Ravenous, and a couple other clips.

For those who have an interest in the intricate dealings as to how all the shorts were made, Film-Fest DV offers several hidden extras on the short films that are featured on this disc... but you have to work hard to find them. There is an alternate commentary track on all the shorts, that you can get when you press the audio button on your remote. Depending on your player, you might have to turn it on for each and every short, which is a pain, but it's definitely worth it in some cases. As it was pointed out to me (and you're right Whit), skip the Bingo commentary -- it's a joke. It's a phoned-in (literally) play by play of the short that offers absolutely nothing interesting, and is a waste of track. All the others are pretty good, although my favorite is Culture, where Ari Gold lays down his filmmaking dogma, which is pretty funny -- even if he's serious. Another hidden gem is the production notes. To get to these, you have to press the title/guide button during the title menu screen (which is the station pattern looking thing that precedes each short). You can then read about the short, from it's history to the actual filming. It's a very nice touch, and just adds that much more coolness to this already whip smart set.

The disc is organized like a very cool animated magazine, and it's quite killer. The approach ends up making you feel like you've been dropped right into the action, especially in the Features section. The editing is fast and energetic, some of the interviews here are pretty funny, and the sound is full. If you're a fest fan, then I can't think of a better way to experience something like this. It's like going yourself... without getting drunk, laid or frostbitten.

Film-Fest DV 1:1 runs a little over two hours (although once you play with everything on the disc, you'll have had it in your player for about 5 hours), and it's a very fun and interesting look behind the scenes at Sundance. I'm looking forward to more of these, and my only complaint with this one is the featured interviews. BroadcastDVD has everything else down pat, so if they start doing some bigger and better interviews, they may just have something for us all to look forward to on a regular basis. As it stands right now, I'm definitely looking forward to their Cannes edition. It should be a scream.

Todd Doogan
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