Every movie that gets a positive response seems to end up with a sequel these days, and after a nice reaction to the three student shorts from the mid 1990s a couple of weeks ago it seemed natural to go back to the vault and find another handful of student films to share from Arts & Communication’s past.
Watching these is a reminder that audiences bring their own perspectives to any viewing. Grads from around the time might spot themselves in the videos. Current students notice the walls that haven’t yet been covered with murals. A sentimental principal like me sees just how much the students from a couple of decades ago seem like the kids who walk the halls now. I see in the joy and daring, the humor and pathos, the laughter and hijinx, a commonality between A&C students from 1996 and ACMA students from 2018. …and it is wonderful.
This quartet of films captures that madcap spirit of the time and some of the energy student artists brought to our school. With haunting imagery, a vintage telephone booth, and a look at campus (complete with giant greenhouse), the first student film is both familiar and otherworldly. In it you can see the techniques Mr. Bennett, their film teacher, helped the young Kurosawas learn and employ.
Mr. Bennett shows up in the second film, Mr. Bennett’s Pain. As electric guitars wail, a wig clad student steps into film class and proceeds to make mischief at the expense of what one supposes was precious technology at the time. Mr. B’s extended reaction shot (84 seconds …wow!) alone is worth the price of admission.
Another dreamy entry in the mid 90s pantheon of A&C films comes in an untitled exploration that is an experiment in angles and contrast. It’s hard to be sure what exactly you’re seeing, though the wainscoting and some corners of campus feel familiar.
The longest of these four films is God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, a sprawling epic of close-ups and expressions. Watching God Bless… is like peeking at an Arts & Communications home movie. More than perhaps any student film I’ve seen from the time, this adventure in images and sound seems to snare the school’s zeitgeist, and the result is beautiful.
From the PLAY that occasionally shows up in the upper corner of the films from time to time to the unapologetically poetic sensibility shared by so many of the movies, these time cinematic capsules are a precious reminder of what life was like at that creative school where kids made art, made connections, and made sense of their world.
Only one of these films had any credits (at least on the cut found in that box in the film room), though the filmmakers and their peers would certainly be able to assign credit (or blame) pretty quickly. From my view so many years later, I choose to see them all as the manifestation of the spirit of creativity, brought to existence by the collective effort of student artists who lived life artistically.
Art is magical, and finding treasures like these is a treat for all of us, whether A&C was our school in the 90s, 00s, or today. My appreciation goes out to the students who helped to create this art, the current student who helped save it from the dangers of time, and everyone watching who give it new life again.