PXL This 16, a film festival of short, grainy, fuzzy black and white works made with the long-discontinued Fisher Price PXL 2000 toy camera, described by curator Gerry Fialka as “the pen and pencil of filmmaking,” will feature a screening of two separate collections of films, at 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, November 18th, at Sponto Gallery, 7 Dudley Ave., Venice. Admission is free.
A snub at big budget Hollywood filmmaking models and rapidly advancing graphics technology, the purpose of the PXL film is to throw out the influence of money, discard substanceless flashiness and let untarnished ideas flow from the filmmaker onto the film, according to Fialka.
PXL filmmakers use the PXL 2000, a failed toy camera that was manufactured by Fisher Price from 1987 to 1989, as a basic artist’s tool.
Fialka organizes a yearly festival to unite PXL enthusiasts and show the fruits of their year’s work in a public forum.
“PXL’s affordability democratizes filmmaking,” says Fialka, referring to the high costs that put the medium of filmmaking out of financial reach of the working class, even in the age of the digital camera.
The reasons that the camera failed to catch on with kids may be the exact reasons why some artists are attracted to the tool. Footage shot with the PXL 2000 takes on a dark, surreal, film-noirish look.
But the real essence of the medium is that “it is bare-bones filmmaking — stripping the filmmaker down to pencil and paper, so to speak, and asking, ‘What can you do with this,” says Fialka.
“PXL can reduce the art-making process to its simplest incarnation, much like a child’s hand puppet shadow on the bedroom wall,” he says. “Since the PXL camera was intended for children, it enables one to pursue that often desired children’s innocence in the creative process.”
Filmmaker Bryan Konefsky compares PXL filmmaking to the haiku, a simple three line poetic form first used in Japan. “Pixelvision is the haiku of cinema: the minimum of means delivering the maximum of meaning.
“The PXL 2000 toy camera’s limited image quality forces moviemakers to focus on essentials and thereby to produce a richly connotative cinematic experience.”
Highlights of this year’s PXL This fest include “Gestures,” in which L.M. Sabo describes a misguided war in Iraq through hand gestures and subtitles; “Rousham,” Matt Honeyball’s dream-like exploration of the edifices and dark corners of one of England’s striking countryside domiciles; “Remembering the Good Old Days,” exploring culture jamming and agitation with John Trubee;
“The End of Carlton Luboff,” Charles Chadwick’s tale of a hitchhiking filmmaker; “Aliens,” Michael Almereyda’s portrait of two brothers playing a video game while talking about their favorite movies; “Extreme Unwinding” and “Form Constant,” Will Erok’s grainy, noisy rhythmic experiment and PXL portrait of a meth dealer; “Klezmer Music,” Ron Grun’s look at Jewish soul music; and “With a Kiss,” poet Rich Ferguson’s warm sonic syllables; “Won’t Come Down,”
Gabriel Van Jones’s mind-altering mantra; “A Practical Mystic,” Fialka’s study of the effects of Korla Pandit’s visionary music on teenagers; and “Somnigraphic Traces of the Otherwise Undocumented Friedkin Institute for Sleep Disorder Research, Struan Ashby and Roy Parkhurst’s exploration of neuro-psychological dream research.
Information, (310) 306-7330.