Lincoln Calling Day 1: Homegrown/Found Footage Fest

Homegrown Film Festival

Lincoln Calling’s opening event, the Homegrown Film Festival, consists of short films, music videos, and documentaries. This event functions as great exposure for many up and coming Nebraska artists.

        The majority of films in the festival were music videos. Many of them were beautifully shot, designed, and directed. “Dirty Clean,” by UNIVERSE CONTEST (video by NoSeatbelt Productions) was a particular favorite. It features three dancers getting “dirty” with paint, mud, Holi powder, and glitter on a clean white backdrop. Through extreme close-ups as well as wide shots of the dancers spinning and gyrating, the director created an atmosphere of confusion and chaos. “The room’s still spinning and I need you to talk to me,” they croon. The best videos echoed this model, infusing the heart of a song into images.

        Short films were another major part of the festival. In “Butoh Daemon,” Robby Defain creates an atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia. A ghostly figure dances in a pool of water, twisting and turning.  However, the audience is not aware of where the pool is, or even what they are seeing at all. It is almost a Rorschach test, as the figure constantly changes form. “Butoh Daemon” showcased Defrain’s technical and artistic skill.

        The Homegrown Film Festival caters to all levels of talent and expertise, as well as all styles of short film-from music video to personal essay to narrative pieces. It is a grab bag of local talent, and I expect it to improve each year. In the future, I hope to see more narrative pieces, and more work from UNL students. Festivals like the Homegrown Film Festival are a great place to showcase local talent, as well as for local artists to gain exposure and practice.

Found Footage Festival

        The Found Footage Festival consists of clips from VHS tapes found at Goodwill and other thrift shops around the country. Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, who have been showing the tapes to audiences since 2004, are curators and comedians, guiding their audience through the maze of craziness. They discover the best of VHS entertainment from the eighties and nineties, edit it, and narrate it.

        The tapes vary from the bizarre (a man who talks for four hours about a stick) to the hilarious (a video about puppy birthing that includes the word “bitch” 63 times) to the disgusting (an instructional video for rectal exams).  Despite these differences, each of the videos has an odd appeal. They each seem to tell a story. Someone, at some point, thought to film each of these. Someone else watched. Someone captured an odd moment. Someone saw a need for a video about puff paint, or “How to have Cybersex on the Internet,” or a rabbit playing piano. Whose hands did these masterpieces touch before they reached the shelves of Goodwill?

Their current audience will never know.

        Video covers are another important aspect of the festival. In their search for footage, stated Prueher and Pickett, they found many videos that had promising covers, but turned out to not be hilarious. Because of this, they display a slideshow of the covers. This slideshow demonstrates how many hours of footage, not all of it useful, that they must watch in order to put together a two-hour show.

        The Found Footage Festival made me laugh until my face was sore. It is a celebration of the absurd and the inane, and it was fabulous. Prueher and Pickett deserve credit for what they do—recovering and enjoying hilarious VHS tapes that could have been lost to the annals of history. The Found Footage Festival was a great, lighthearted way to kick off Lincoln Calling, which continues until October 12.