Students who managed to weave their way through the little-known basement of Lecture Hall on Friday night were met with the Binghamton University Film Salon’s screening event, titled “Grasping Shadows,” an open call that culminated in 31 minutes of experimental film.
As the lights flickered off in Lecture Hall Basement B89, a small crowd of about 15 committed film junkies prepared to enjoy work from both students and the BU film library for the Salon’s end of the semester event.
Jake Shereck, co-director for BU Film Salon and a senior double-majoring in English and cinema, said he allowed the theme of the collection to come naturally.
“We had an open call for all submissions and once we received all of them we narrowed them down to kind of a common theme,” Shereck said. “That theme ended up being a mix of an overload of senses and loss of control.”
The first film shown was Shereck’s “FIXTURES,” a three-minute-long piece that displayed a series of ambiguous shapes accompanied by some gnarled audio. The end of the film features Shereck zooming out to reveal that each of the shapes was actually a larger fixture, whether it be a car’s headlights or a lamp found on campus.
While “FIXTURES” was a student-made project, two of the six films, “Rehearsals for Retirement” by Phil Solomon and “People Looking Out of the Window, Trash, Etc.” by Kurt Kren, were from the media library and were selected from a group of suggestions made by Tomonari Nishikawa, an adviser for the Salon, undergraduate director of cinema and an associate professor of cinema. Solomon’s piece was especially abstract, as his 12-minute animated film transformed the landscape of “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” into an empty and mournful wasteland.
Brittaney Skavla, a senior double-majoring in cinema and psychology, had her film, “marks of the church,” screened. To create a film consisting of Catholic imagery being distorted, Skavla took inspiration from a number of sources.
“Living Downtown, there are just so many churches and a lot of the architecture is really creepy-looking,” Skavla said. “I also went to Catholic school all my life and I always thought that Catholicism was something that was purposely made kind of scary.”
Experimental film has very few rules, if any at all, and those involved with BU Film Salon recognize it may not be accessible to everyone. Sara Holand, president of BU Film Salon and a senior double-majoring in business administration and cinema, said it can be difficult for some to enjoy film outside of a narrative format.
“If you’re looking at experimental film for the first time, just keep your mind open,” Holand said. “It can be shocking since we’re all used to the Hollywood films with classic storylines, but when you sit and think about the experimental films some more, you can truly understand the meaning of the art, or you can not, and that’s part of the beauty of it.”