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Monday, March 2, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 19.0° F  A Few Clouds
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short.times.twelve at the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival
The collection of Wisconsin shorts screened Saturday at the Play Circle
Filmmakers featured in short.times.twelve take the stage at the Play Circle to answer audience questions.
Credit:Kristian Knutsen

Without a doubt, the centerpiece of the short.times.twelve screening on early Saturday afternoon was the world premiere of Walk Into Hell/Purgatorio, a 15-minute double feature created by Madison artist Dal Lazlo and his collaborator Charles Johannsen.

Consisting of two similarly surreal yet thematically differing shorts -- each featuring the same two actors -- the film was awarded Best Wisconsin Experimental Short Film at the festival. In an interview with The Daily Page, Lazlo said people attending the screening " won't see anything else like these films at the festival." This was certainly true. The journey started with focused on a transgressive feast of blasphemy and offal filtered through old 16 mm stock Walk into Hell and returned half a lifetime later with Purgatorio, a sunny digital offering redemption of the bizarre. What was most striking, though, was viewing how thirty years affected the pair of actors featured in both parts.

Two more award-winning shorts were also screened. Little Spirits -- a pensive walk through the woods narrated by a pair of young friends -- was awarded a Special Jury Prize for the festival. Then there was Tops, an experimental creation provided wonderful visuals of the spinning toys, which is probably a major reason why a Kodak Opportunity Film Stock Grant was given to the short.

The focus on these award-winners though, didn't diminish nine other short films in the collection. Most were less than five minutes long, and drew heavily from the experimental side of animation. These included a ghost story, recycled student-film footage, a syncopated fairground collage, and a hand-drawn menagerie, among others.

Two shorts that were of a different format were Haggadah (The Story) and The Art of Effort; the former examined one family's rememberance of the Holocaust as affected by time and a mountain of media imagery, while the other was a simple documentary about Bedouin children in Israel receiving art therapy.

I was already familiar with Holding the Pilots/Holding the Facts, a music video by Madison filmmaker Shelby Floyd that I profiled late last year, and can be viewed there online.

A complete listing of the featured shorts follows, in their order of screening:

The screening was held in the festival's smallest venue, the Frederic March Play Circle in the UW Memorial Union. The tiny theatre was completely full on Saturday, with many of the filmmakers family and friends in attendance. short.times.twelve will be screening there again at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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