Videofest 2009

December 1, 2009

Last November we drove out to Dallas to watch our short film Picturesque Joel at the Angelika Theater in Dallas, Texas. The film had been selected for the 2008 Dallas Video Festival and was scheduled to screen in the Texas Show, a collection of short films by Texas-based filmmakers that concludes the four day long festival. Seeing our first official selection in a film festival on the big screen was not the only reason we made the five hour drive to Dallas. The moment we read that pioneer documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles was going to be in attendance we booked our hotel.  This year our short film Jimmy Kuehnle’s Big Red and Walking Fish was selected for the same festival, now renamed VideoFest and was again scheduled to screen in the Texas Show.

Jimmy Kuehnle in his suit Big Red and Walking Fish
Jimmy Kuehnle in his suit “Big Red”

We imagined ourselves reliving the same wonderful trip: cool weather, good films, time spent with Albert Maysles, a delicious vegetarian quiche and wonderful art museums. The drive up this year seemed longer and when we arrived in Dallas the traffic was much worse than we remembered, which we should have interpreted to be some sort of omen. Our hotel was an upgrade from last year’s Sun Suites and was much closer to the Angelika Theater. As we turned the corner to pull into our hotel’s parking lot we were pulled over by Dallas police. Apparently we had driven two hundred and eighty-seven miles with a broken brake light (which is still broken) and only feet from our destination we were stopped, yet another omen. Luckily we were let go with only a warning so we could unpack and get ready to see The Art Guys Retrospective 1984-2008 presentation. The kind faces and warm hugs of Michael and Jack put our hearts at ease as we settled in for an evening of hilarious and clever short videos from their twenty five years of collaborating. Thanks guys for giving us a shout out during your presentation (Watch our short documentary The Art Guys Marry A Plant)

Michael Galbreth and Angela Walley
Michael Galbreth and Angela Walley, Dallas Videofest 2009

After The Art Guy’s presentation we watched a program called Odd Stories Worth Staying up For. Our favorite short film in the program was Killer. The film took place in New York City in 1987 and follows seventeen year old Jose Ortiz as he and his group of friends play an an intense and dangerous game by the same name. The film gave us a glimpse into an urban rite of passage defined by all-night stakeouts, the gritty terrain of the city, and the recklessness of adolescence. Killer directed by Adam Leon and Jack Pettibone Riccobono was an inspiring way to end our evening and only made us more excited about meeting Albert Maysles the next night. Last year Albert said to us “Documentary, that’s the way to go”. His sweet smile and openness to anyone who approached him was unexpected and his words became subliminally locked into our minds. This year our short documentary about performance artist Jimmy Kuehnle was going to screen and we could trace our influence straight back to Albert.

Mark and Angela Walley with Albert Maysles, Dallas Video Festival 2008

The next morning we attended the Filmmaker’s Brunch hosted by Dallas Video Association and a number of Texas Film Commissions (including San Antonio). We had a chance to introduce ourselves to other filmmakers whose work was also screening at the festival including Penny Lane and Brian L. Frye, an adorable couple from New York. They were so friendly they invited us to spend our day together looking around Downtown Dallas. We visited the street were JFK was assassinated, found the Quizno’s were the Conspiracy Museum used to be (Thanks anyway Gary!) and spent what felt like days in the Dallas Aquarium.

Angela Walley at the Dallas Aquarium
Angela Walley at the Dallas Aquarium

As we were getting all ready to see Albert for his screening of Muhammad and Larry and Get yer Ya Ya’s Out we learned that he was not going to be able to make it after all. We disappointingly sat in the theater and waited for the films to start, but before they did Bart Weiss, director of the VideoFest introduced Ian Markiewicz, filmmaker and editor of both Muhammad and Larry and Get yer Ya Ya’s Out. The films that followed were completely inspiring. All the beauty and drama that can be created from real life stories and moments can’t be touched in some ways by actors and scripts. Ian also screened Waiting For Something, a short documentary about musician Jay Reatard he and Alex Hammond directed. To us it was a delightful mixture of Jennifer Venditti’s Billy the Kid and Jeff Feuerzeig’s The Devil and Daniel Johnston. That evening at the after party we had a chance to talk more with Ian along with fellow filmmakers Daniel Laabs and Frank Mosley. We all had a really good time just laughing and joking around (mainly harassing Johnny Rutledge, managing director of the festival and all around great guy). At the end of the night they all agreed that evenings like that were what make traveling the festival circuit worth it. We drove Ian back to his hotel and had a chance to talk to him more about what it’s like to work with Albert. We wished that there was more time since we barely scratched the surface, but we were glad to meet him and hope our paths cross again soon.

Jimmy Kuehnle with “Walking Fish”

Sunday night we finally screened Jimmy Kuehnle’s Big Red and Walking Fish in the Texas Show. It was by far the most popular program, with the theater nearly full of filmmakers, friends and film enthusiasts. It was also (in our opinion) the best collection of work, including films by Ya’ke Smith and Kat Candler. After the screening we had a chance to talk about the film and answer questions from the audience and Bart Weiss. Congrats to Daniel Laabs who won Best Narrative and Comedy Short! The previous night we refused to take Ian’s Maysles Award Statue (he thought he couldn’t take it on the plane) so we should have taken one of Daniel’s awards, but we have confidence that he will make shelves to put them on. In the end we missed Albert Maysles, the veggie quiche and the art museums, but we still had an amazing time and look forward to going again next year.