Walking into local artist-run gallery Sediment Arts after seeing a very 80s neon pink and yellow flyer for “Video Party” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
It said it was on tour and with little information online other than independent filmmakers would be showcasing short films in a variety of genres, I was intrigued and decided to venture in and see what this party was all about. I thought something along the lines of different short films playing in the room at the same time or different times, but either way, I was certainly expecting it to be nothing short of interesting.
When I arrived, the main room had rows and rows of white wooden and plastic chairs seated facing a wall with a projector screening on it. There was also a small hard milk candy by the Japanese candy company, Kasugai which made me pretty happy.
Altogether during the exhibit were 23 films shown over the course of two nights. I went on Friday night when about 12 films were shown, none of which over the runtime of about fifteen minutes altogether.
The films ranged in various genres from documentary to experimental, to animation to even a home movie which was originally created in 1987, titled “High-High” by Atsushi Sakurai. Many of the filmmakers are from Japan, although submissions were open to filmmakers from all around the world. While the exhibition has screened in various cities around the world, the showing at Sediment Arts was the first screening in the United States which was pretty spectacular.
Video Party, which was launched in 2013 by filmmaker Yasuto Yura, works with various film festivals, colleges, and screening organizations in order to show the exhibition. Originally, Yura reached out to Sediment Arts, and Dana Ollestad, a volunteer of Sediment Arts helped organized the event to bring it to the Richmond Area.
“Mr. Yura saw that many young filmmakers couldn’t find ways to make films as they grew into life responsibilities, or that independent filmmakers of this sort, didn’t have a venue or outlet,” Ollestad said. “He saw a worrying pattern of less and less independent films being made and shared, so he decided to create a film series focused on supporting independent filmmakers, not only in showing the films, but utilizing the screening event to bring people together, reinforce the social bonds- not only between viewers, but especially the filmmakers and their audiences.”
Yura was also in attendance, of course and spoke with Ollestad (who also had a film shown, as well, on the second evening of the exhibit) to open the show and to close it with final thoughts and a short question and answer session after the showings, and to speak to guests in attendance which ended up being relatively full by the end of the showing.
Out of the films shown, my favorites were narrowed down to about three: “The lesson of the image” by Yuya Miki, “LIFE” by Shiro Ichige, and “Ponpoko Mountain” by Takayuki Yoshida.
“The lesson of the image” showcased a day in the life of someone in Okinawa over the course of fifteen minutes, which peaked my interest as a nosey person. “LIFE” was an animated short only about three minutes long which danced around to high paced classical musical in a similar vein to that of Walt Disney’s Fantasia. “Ponpoko Mountain” was only about ten minutes, and was an adorable experimental documentary that showcased moments in the lives of children playing on a mountain on a playground through black and white imagery.
Similarly to a concert or a film showing with friends, Yura hopes that with the touring Video Party exhibit, people will enjoy the aspect and importance of seeing these short films live and in person. “People can buy a cd or download a track, but the ability for people to gather together, and for the artist to spend time directly with the viewers creates a dynamic of communication that is unmatched outside of live interaction,” Ollestad said.
Overall it was a fantastic experience, and I certainly see why the exhibition has been so successful and so popular, and I look forward to when it comes back to (hopefully) Richmond soon.