Ben Garchar, Charis Tobias, Seth Walker: Three daring young creative spirits at the Utah Arts Festival1 Comment Published by les June 26th, 2009 in Communication, Community Dialogue, Current Events, Film, Performing Arts, Pop Culture, Salt Lake City, Tourism.
DID YOU KNOW? “Fun With Condoms,” directed by Oklahoma’s Jay Sheldon, and featured at Fear No Film was made for just $10.
Three young artists making their first appearance at the Utah Arts Festival are hardly shy newcomers. In their own remarkable ways, they articulate a creative voice striking not only in its originality but also in its stark candor and capacity to push the emotional boundaries among their audiences. They herald a generation ready to break open the ways in how we express ourselves in art, politics, and relationships.
Charis Tobias – Twitter – Fear No Film
At 17, Charis Tobias from California is the youngest filmmaker being represented in the 54 offerings of Fear No Film. “Twitter,” her six-minute short is the fresh digital version of the old “six degrees of separation” game as Tobias smartly weaves a web of at least two dozen tweets taken directly from the popular microblogging service that, in some way, ultimately link the characters involved in those 140-character messages.
The film is being shown in the When category presentation of the Fear No Film portion of the festival today at 2 p.m. and Sunday, June 28, at 1 p.m. Utah is the first festival stop for this intriguing short.
Tobias epitomizes the digital-savvy early adopter in several ways. She’s already finished her junior college degree with “Twitter” as a college course project. In fact, the Violet Productions film – produced with the help of Marylew, her mother, on a shoestring budget that amounted to buying food for the young cast and crew – was completed well before the big publicity buzz earlier this year that saw Twitter’s popularity mushroom by 15 times in the last year.
The film succeeds because Tobias manages quite surprisingly to get audiences to care about the characters in such a short span of time. In a peculiar way, she capitalizes on that curiosity about whether it is at all possible to communicate meaningfully in a 140-character environment. Indeed, if it is achievable, the opportunity best rests in the hands of a young multitasker like Tobias who has spent all of her years in an exclusively digital environment even without the benefit of a TV set.
Just last Sunday, she participated in an unusual project directed by Frank Kelly, an Irish documentary producer, in which 140 filmmakers in 140 locations around the world were cued via Twitter to film 140 seconds of footage at the same moment. In Tobias’ case, that was mercifully at noon and not in the middle of the night as was the case for some participants.
The rules were simple: no editing, just raw footage, and it could be anything connected to their home location. Tobias chose Yosemite. (Incidentally, two Utahns also participated: Ryan Little and Adam Abel.) Kelly plans to release the documentary later this year.
Tobias counts among her cinematic influences Kenneth Anger and David Lynch, strong representatives of experimental art and postmodern films. Her next project is an art film titled “Oh, Violet.”
Ben Garchar – Run To Me Run From Me – Fear No Film
Just two weeks ago, Garchar, 23, a Youngstown, Ohio native graduated from the motion pictures production program at Wright State University near Dayton. Until now, he had never been west of Kansas City but this 13-minute film, which was a junior year course project, is playing its first festival outside of Ohio.
The film is an unforgiving candid story of love, lust, desire, and the fluid boundaries of identity. The story unfolds as a high school track athlete is stuck in a world of anorexia and a sexual fantasy with whose terms he finds increasingly difficult to reconcile. Garchar articulately steps into revealing territory, drawing in part upon his own high school experiences but pushing them to boundaries where youthful innocence is lost in sickeningly frustrating ways.
There is no sanitizing of this white suburban landscape as Garchar embraces postmodern sensibilities with a skilled hand in which the young actors, drawn from a casting call of students at a Cincinnati performing arts conservatory, are realistically awkward and emotionally blunt.
Garchar admits that the project did not start easily. “I had submitted some ideas but my professor suggested I dig down deeper,” he explains. “He encouraged me to push it to the farthest extent possible.” Garchar was a track athlete in high school and he remembers being health conscious as well as the frustrations of dating and sex, often accompanied by feelings of frustration and anger. “As my professor said, the more personal, the more universal it becomes,” he adds.
The film has screened at several festivals in Ohio and Garchar, who counts Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese among his cinematic influences, has been encouraged by the audience responses. The film also is slated for next month’s Oxford International Film Festival near the Miami University of Ohio campus. He also is putting the finishing touches on a 4 ½ minute film, which he describes as an experimental poem about his connection to the art of filmmaking.
Run to Me Run From Me will be screened for the second time at Fear No Film on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Seth Walker – Performance Poetry
When asked where he’ll be in 10 years, Seth Walker, who has electrified the Texas poetry slam scene since 2007, says plainly, “in jail, dead, or famous.” Just 24, he’s been winding his way through the West, taking no prisoners in slam competitions at virtually every venue. He often wins or places second and is known for an unrelentingly honest, raw stream of emotion, revolutionary spirit, unabashed spirituality, and make-no-excuse sense of politics.
On stage or one-on-one in an interview, Walker’s self-awareness crackles in unashamed clarity. Like the great Allen Ginsberg, he shoulders effortlessly and uncomplicatedly the contemporary burdens of his own existence and that of his society. More importantly, in making no bones admitting that he once utterly despised anything and everything that was American, he now is proud of what he has seen through his travels which have taken him to virtually every city and town of importance in the Western half of the United States.
The critical turn in Walker’s artistic life came after Hurricane Katrina and he returned to Houston developing not only his craft in performance poetry but also working with many of the city’s nonprofit organizations serving economically disadvantaged groups as well as those affected by domestic abuse. He also works with many schools and local colleges and universities in the Houston metropolitan area.
He also embraces the Transcendentalism and civil disobedience of Henry David Thoreau, plainly admitting, “I don’t pay taxes.”
His spoken gifts are undeniable. His rhythms, cadences and freestyle verse pounce upon his listeners with compelling eloquence devoid of cliché. In “Immigrant Nation,” he manages narrative structure so naturally, juxtaposes language with unfailingly punctual efficiency, and suggests metaphorical imagery conveying an entire political debate in a way that no columnist, policy expert, or political leader could satisfactorily accomplish in a blog, newspaper, or magazine piece of prose. The precocious genius of his language is almost frightening in its originality. How can one so young sustain such poetic and artistic authority?
Walker’s passion is his cultural networking, traveling from city to city, making enough just to get to the next stop. “I arrived in Boise with $12 and came to Salt Lake with $30,” he says. And, embedded in the rawness of his work is a poignant sense that the youth of his generation are more than anxious to reclaim the genuine unfettered roots of the American experience without the necessity of government or multinational corporate sanctions.
Walker’s creative pulse took hold when he started writing journals at the age of 8, feeling no compulsion to hold back whatever was on his mind. Only after his mother had confiscated his writings did he create a metaphorical language code only decipherable by him. For Walker, journal writing became the pretext for eradicating those pesky neuroses that inhibit genuine expression. And, while like some of his peers he eschews preordained sociocultural and sexual stereotypes, he ventures into blue ocean territory, pushing for a revolutionary sense of what the Turkish call the vatan, an unspoiled sense of the American homeland. In a sense, it is going back to what some considered the true genius of the American experience – an exceptionalism rooted not in politics or ideology but in an ecstatic natural sense of the individual spirit effectively communicated through the performing magic of poets like Walker.
He will perform on the Big Mouth Cafe stage Sunday, June 28, at 9 p.m.
And of course all are welcome for this experience, even those who have tattoos.
Find Today's Daily Deal on the Best in Salt Lake City!