Resfest“, one of the world’s largest digital film festival toured two cities in Japan at Laforet Museum Harajuku, Tokyo and Namba Hatch, Osaka, from November 21 to December 1. The development of digital technology has brought a great contribution to the idea of creators of any field – music, art and design. Resfest is an annual event featuring cutting-edge short films in challenge of examine the future possibilities of digital images. The tour started from San Francisco last September and will be traveling to more than10 countries all over the world. This is a report from Tokyo about its Japan tour.

Resfest consisted of three main programs. Screening of the year’s best short films, workshop for creators and talk sessions, and were spread in 4 days.

I went to Laforet Museum everyday, crawling the crowd of kids as the venue located on top of the building of kid’s fashion Mecca. Although that experience was really exhausting, the event itself was interesting and the audiencehall was almost full everyday.

Motoya Kurihara, the producer of Resfest since the first Japan tour in 1999 said, “I am very surprised to see so many people at Resfest. In years,Resfest had been well received and now more people come to realize how to enjoy Resfest, I suppose.”

To enjoy Resfest is similar to the joy of short films. Short films are very casual for both audiences and film makers, as audiences are very used to seeing commercials films and music videos as itself. Cheaper and better technology encourages creators to challenge making more digital films. And Resfest complying those digital films has an atmosphere of the DIY spirit all over the programs, as if anyone can feel “I can do it by myself”. (The origin of Resfest was called “low res festival” which was to showcase the low resolution films, explains some spiritual aspect of Resfest…)

The programs on screen consists of about 150 works selected from1500 or more short film submissions, from which they created unique thematic programs such as “Videos that Rock” -the showcase of rock music videos, “Drive me crazy”- a program of road movie shorts, “By Design”- showcasing experimental design films, and “True Story” of unique documentaries. Each footage was 80 minutes long and13 different programs all together, which was a really overwhelming volume.

This year, the special programs were featured; workshops and talks by Johnny Hardstaff (UK) and Logan (US) and a retrospective screening of Chris Cunningham.

Johnny Hardstaff, Photo by Mike Sheetal

“Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors And Like Spinning Plates”, was a figurative, long music video for Radiohead, illustrating the vulnerability of conjoined baby twins who were dramatically separated from each other by the centrifugal force of a great machine. This less emotional but fascinating image resonated with the drifting melody of Radiohead and created its mystical world.

Information Contraband, Dir: Logan, Music: Money Mark

The West coast design team Logan produced entertaining music videos with Money Mark, the keyboardist of the Beastie Boys.
This film with Thai B-movie imagery was made by mixing cinematography and animation. In their workshop, they introduced their unique creative process which originated from their background as graphic designers.

Chris Cunningham on RES magazine

The special screening of the works of Chris Cunningham was a retrospective of his best videos selected by himself, and interviews of him talking about each work. Having shown at big exhibitions like Venice Biennale and Istanbul Biennale, Cunningham is now attracting attention from any creative fields. The day of screening was full of people eager to see this special screening. In the speech, Jonathan Wells, the festival director made a sweet gift for Chris Cunningham by shooting a message from audiences “Hello Chris, love from Tokyo!”, and would be sent to London. I hope he will be able to come next Resfest.

*Photo by Mike Sheetal

A talk session was held on 23rd, with Johnny Hardstaff and Logan, Naohiro Ukawa and Jiro Ohashi from SAL Magazine. The talk jumped many range of topics, from the inspiration of film making to the technology and sex.
Hardstaff said working with Radiohead was not exactly a collaboration, rather an investment of trust, and there was no particular difference between making music clip limited by track, and his own project. Ukawa added that the essence of creation was to pursue the image by working on details. In the session, someone said, “less budget, better work” and everyone on the stage nodded. The basics mind of top creators must have encouraged young creators.

Breath Control -History Of The Human Beatbox-Dir: Joey Garfield © 2002 Filet ‘0’ Fresh Productions

For 4 days, I spent over 8 hours to watch as much as programs I could. I think I enjoyed a lot although the chair was so painful. But I still missed many works which was my regret. I found many interesting pieces in music videos, but unexpectedly, I was fascinated with documentaries. A single, long featured film, “Breath Control”, directed by Joey Garfield struck me most. It was a challenging documentary about the history of the human beatbox, musicians whose only instrument is the human voice. The footage included incredible percussion beats they produced by voice, rare concerts films and interviews of its pioneers in the 80’s and musicians at present.
Documentary needs a classical but essential creative action – to hold your camera, go out and record – and it tells us a lot about the way of artists how to look at the world. On the contrary, nicely designed, but no contextal works were a bit disappointed. Technological experimentation is an obsession of creators, but we can appreciate it most when the clever approach with its compactness and sharpness as short films can be found.

Some works could be seen on the internet, but watching short films on a big screen was fun. However, I thought they could have more variety of the way of screening. For example, Doug Aitken’s “Windows” was much nicer when I saw this work in Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery last month in an installation. But those never reduced my appreciation to this festival, providing a rare chance to see the today’s digital films from amateurs and professionals, from any kind of creative fields at one time. Those chance is simply, very important.
Johnny Hardstaff used the word “healthy” in talking about his impression of Resfest. Respecting each creative spirit, Resfest will keep an unique stance in the digital creation and I am looking forward to seeing this enjoyable festival again next year.

Date : November 21 – 24 2002
Place: Laforet Museum Harajuku, Tokyo
Produced by Newsbase. inc
Cooperated by RES Media Group (New York City, NY, USA)
Address : 3F Harajuku R Bld. 6-17-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: +81-3-3406-8835 Fax: +81-3-3406-1636

Text and Photos: Chiaki Sakaguchi From VOID Chicken
*Photos: Mike Sheetal

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