Ten Minutes or Less 

Short video festival showcases new technologies.

Communicating an idea in ten minutes isn't easy, even with the aid of a $600 HD camcorder. No wonder then that of the more than 130 films submitted to this year's T-10 Video Festival at 21 Grand, only 28 made the cut, says festival curator Eliot Daughtry, co-owner of Oakland's Killer Banshee Studios. Those 28 were the ones that could show and tell but still tell, albeit in whatever strange, funky, eccentric, sometimes heavily processed way the filmmaker came up with. Some of this year's entries use high-tech signal processing and soundscapes, while others use the Portapak tradition of a single-frame shot tracking a specific action: making a sandwich, for example, or hurling a saw blade at a watermelon. A piece by Berkeley filmmaker Claire Burch looks at the failures of our mental health system through the eyes of a homeless woman.

Launched shortly after the opening of 21 Grand and now in its eighth year, the T-10 Video Festival highlights local experimental artists — "some more experimental than others," Daughtry admits — though it gets international submissions. The idea is to bring together a variety of short works that cohere aesthetically (if not thematically) and make a collective statement about what's happening in the world of video today. What most impressed Daughtry as he scoured through all the submissions was the impact of new technologies. With the availability of inexpensive high-definition camcorders and iMovie software built into every Mac, it's possible to make budget video with "astonishingly clean" composition. In fact, the cameras have improved so much, he said, that "it's actually more work to get a little grit back into it." See for yourself this Saturday and Sunday, January 12 and 13, at 21 Grand (416 25th St., Oakland). The show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $5-$10. 21Grand.org

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