Friday, December 06, 2002

Esther pointed out a brief in the Rockford Register Star about Sharon Wolfersheim, a woman who owns a horse farm who was charged with neglecting her horses. I was the first area reporter to give an account of the conditions at the horse farm, and now see it played out in criminal charges. She pleaded not guilty in Rock County Court. The latest story includes a tidbit I reported about her being fined for failure to dispose of an animal carcass. This brings out what I miss about the reporter's life. While hectic, I enjoyed playing a vital role in the community reporting the happenings of its people. I also got to meet the movers and shakes and, in a small way, influence their actions and official policy. Or at least report on their wrongdoings. I may go back to a newspaper if I fail to produce anything as a freelance/fiction/poetry writer. Maybe do another long distance trail. Write letters to the editor in the meantime. Stay critical and involved in my community.

The good wife and I have just returned from the Storefront Cinema, where we saw the Rock River Alternative Film and Video Festival, a collection of short films made by local residents and entered into a contest last summer. The so-called "better" entries have been collected together for a two-hour presentation. The three middle entries were disturbing, including "Cubical Imprisonment," a six-minute video on office life in which, at the end, out of boredom, the one character, who is not fully shown until then, pulls out a gun and points it to his head. The next entry, a claymation short by a teenage boy, "Sam Quast's Day of Clay," has the little clay man shoot himself. And "Self Portrait: A Confession," a boring 11-minute video of another neglected fat guy talking about his miserable life who at the end points a gun at his head. No consummation of the act, mind you, these flicks don't have the production value for gore. Many of the shorts were music videos, including a backwards playing of the falling of the World Trade Towers to a Talking Heads soundtrack, interspersed cleverly with George W. Bush sound bites, and Babies in a Blender, a music video for the Superfish Al song. My favorite was also voted Best of the Fest, "Our House: Life Beyond Rave Legislation," done by NIU undergrads about Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's war on the rave scene. With all the lights and good techno music, colorful costumes and lively dancing, the rave scene makes good cinema. It was also edited well. The filmmakers show a good eye, but also good restraint without being too clever. The funniest short is "Penny," about a guy who overshoots his mark at the tank and his misadventures around Rockford finding the coin he needs to complete his purchase.

I watched more than 3 1/2 hours of local filmmaker talent this week. I didn't go into this week thinking I would see any. Didn't know that it existed. But in a city of 150,000 and metropolitan area of 250,000, filmmakers must exist. It's a statistical probability. I think of my brother, Ken, who made a short film about relationships, "Seductions," just for fun, and said the process is very difficult. I don't know if he will try another work. I have not yet seen "Seductions." It is done in French. Yes, my brother has made a French film. That's a strange fact. Although Jerry Lewis has nothing to do with it.

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