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Biannual film festival leaves Berkeley with mouth full of spittle

By Jamob Coakley, Special to the Daily Planet
Friday June 07, 2002

The 10th annual Nomad Video Film Festival screened at the Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley last weekend. The last NOMAD festival for two years, as described by founder Antero Alli, showcased new films, returning notables, experimental shorts, a film that featured gerbils and a hysterically disgusting close-up of everyone’s favorite bodily fluid– spit.  

"Spit" was a new entry this year by Ontario filmmaker Jeremy Drummond. For two and half minutes the viewer is treated to a close-up of a mouth blowing and sucking spit on a glass plate. The huge visuals plus uncannily accurate sound put this film over the top. For its entire length, no one in the audience was quiet – people were either gripped with paroxysms of laughter or disgust and were vocal about both.  

Not as gross as "Spit" but still humorous were entries "Chuck Makes a Woodcut," "Wustenspringmaus," and "Cat Fight Tonight." A returning entry, "Chuck Makes a Wood Cut" by Michael Houston and Joe Caterini chronicles the creation of a piece of art narrated in the stentorian tones of an action movie’s trailer. The deadpan aplomb of its voice-over was spot-on. "Wustenspringmaus" by Jim Finn from Chicago was a faux-serious look at the evolutionary rise of the school-children favorite: the gerbil. The dramatic range of their gerbil was considerable. "Cat Fight Tonight" by New Yorker Greg Pak was a sly portrayal of the end of a relationship and the custody battle over a pet.  

Some of the more series standouts were"Line-Up" by Julie-C. Fortier which followed the path of a fuse to start the festival,"Water From the Moon," by Jenny McCracken which used marionettes for a magical realism tinged story of a man with wings discovered in an old-woman’s bureau, and Vortex" by Michele Beck and Jorge Calvo, a surreal meditation on relationships featuring two heads wrapped in clear plastic packing tape, sticky side out, trying to kiss. Kudos especially to the sound on this piece. "Path" was a lush, moody dance piece by Clancy Dennehy that placed humanity firmly back in nature’s grasp.  

Antero Alli, a Berkeley resident and curator of the festival included two of his own pieces, "Fairy" and "Fears," based on the poems of Rimbaud and Rilke, respectively. Of the two "Fairy" was superior, a haunting dance piece of movement and shadow. 

The festival closed with a film tribute to September 11 titled "Overcome" by Steven Rosenbaum. This short consisted of a visual montage of images from before, during and after that day’s tragic events, set to the band Live’s song "Overcome." It was a moving piece but seemed to gather most of its power from the response of the audience filling in their own personal reactions to that day.  

Having left Berkeley, the Nomad Film Festival travels up the West Coast to Seattle with stops along the way. 


nomad.html for more details and complete site listing. 

Antero Alli’s feature length film "Hysteria" chronicling a personal aftermath to September 11 and featured at the festival can be seen the weekend of June 6th – 8th at the Danzhaus Cinema in San Francisco.