These truths do not prevent the owners of the Moon and Sixpence from seeking out the Super Super-8 Film Festival for an al fresco screening in its spacious rear courtyard. And they aren't worried about boring audiences, either. They are only worried about the rain. "It doesn't really rain in Portland, does it?" asks owner Kevin Dorney with a charming tone of willed optimism. What will the paying public be getting from the event, besides easy access to beer and the dense aromas of fried English grub? The Super Super-8 Film Festival, a benefit for a friend of the pub named Oona Doherty, is, like all such packages, a crap shoot. The only virtue is that the films are so short that if you don't like one, you can be assured that there will be another one along in just a few, brief--if excruciating--minutes.
The package consists of some nine very short films using the now outre film stock that previous generations used in the good old days, before camcorders. The films range from works of moving wallpaper such as Spring Fever, by Ken Paul Rosenthal, (which uses such techniques as negative scratching over under-lit images of bare trees in the autumn light, techniques that were old hat even in the '60s), to unedited personal vacation footage, such as Joe Hilserad and Kathy McDowell's Homemovies, which has all the excitement of a vacation chronicle. One film, Pervert in the Pool by Martha Colburn, employs the Monty Pythonish animation of paper cut-outs to illustrate an only slightly amusing (if loudly presented) slam poem.
Three films in the Super Super-8 package are silent. Another friend of the Pub, Johnny Box of Cul an ti, composed some live accompaniment for these works. The first is Reed O'Beirne's very short and rather uninformative No Time for Shopping, which collects unsifted and unanalyzed footage about the Seattle WTO protest. Another is Te-Shun Tseng's dull, dual-image dance film Degree Zero, probably a paradigmatic example of what is wrong with experimental films--self-indulgent and inconsequential. And in a film that is named both Untitled and Woodenhead Dreams, Mark Fox amateurishly borrows the dark and moody tone, the eastern European sensibility, and the stop-motion animation techniques of the Brothers Quay for an incoherent exercise in defeatism.
Perhaps the best film in the set is Kelly O'Brien's After Morning. O'Brien presents a young Canadian woman who must spend her entire vacation in NYC searching for the morning-after pill. She explains the difficulty of obtaining the pill in America with a believable degree of intimacy. Its virtues highlight the other films' vices: it is written, it has a point, it is socially aware, and it uses its technique in the service of an attitude to the world instead of for its own sake.