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Cinematexas: post-funeral thoughts


This past weekend was the last ever (at least as we have come to know
it) Cinematexas event. The films and videos were fantastic. Some of
the artists whose work was screened included Ben Coonley, Jennet
, Paul Tarragó, Joshua Thorson, William E. Jones (Cinematexas was
the only festival to play his 1999 video FLUFF, we gave him his own
program last year, and now look at him! A 2008 Whitney Biennial
artist!), Darrin Martin, Jim Finn, Jordan Biren, Don Hertztfeld, Daniel
(in a live video performance), James Fotopoulos (in my opinion
one of the most interesting artists working in video today), Eileen
(Texas Prize winner and Cinematexas mainstay), Scott Stark
(Austinite and 2002 Whitney Biennial artist), and many others.

While the Cinematexas Viking Funeral gave me my yearly fix of
experimental film/video, it was pretty dissapointing that
almost nobody showed up. The apathy towards Cinematexas was nothing new
to me, or to anyone involved with it. We didn't endure
organizing a festival every year because we had a need for recognition.
We were never that deluded. But it stings a little nonetheless. I'm not bitter about it because I don't think that Austin is the kind of town
where a festival like this can survive. The art community in Austin, as
much as I love it, seemed generally
confused by Cinematexas, and while confusion was something we highly
cherished while inside the theater, Austinites expressed theirs by not
showing up. The film scene is terrified of anything without a narrative
or prior endorsement by IndieWIRE or the Criterion Collection. There
isn't a culture of media experimentation in this town anymore (some
would argue that any kind of experimentation is dismissed), as much as
we'd like to pretend there is. And people will only show up to your
event if a keg is involved. Or if Vice is a sponsor. Until the day when
Austin gives up its provincial yuppie aspirations, becomes a real urban
center and can support a cinematheque or film archives of some sort, I
don't think an experimental media festival will be able to survive.
Perhaps we need to start from scratch, present tiny little screenings
in manageable bits spread out over months and seasons first, train
Austinites to accept confusion as a valid response. Perhaps we need
more kegs. Maybe I can get Vice on the line. Or at least Beauty Bar. See you in hell, suckers.

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