However, he adds, "I also think it's worth leaving these connections a little bit mysterious. It's interesting to kind of put these ideas out there and let the viewers sort of pick up on them, or not."
Local filmmaker Scott Stark is the only artist in this year's Crossroads to command a solo program (save the inclusion of a 1947 short by Fernand Léger). Stark's latest, The Realist, uses flickering images of mannequins and consumer goods to investigate themes of "loneliness, desire, and presenting yourself in a certain way," Polta says; it's a mesmerizing work. But Polta is quick to note that, again, a sense of mystery is key to the viewing experience. "Part of the fun of The Realist is discovering, as you're watching it, that there's some suggestion of a narrative."
A program of sorta-family-related films, "(as if clinging could save us)," contains another of Polta's standouts: Jonathan Schwartz's Animals Moving to the Sound of Drums.
"The film resonates with a well-known classical avant-garde film, [Jack Chambers' 1970] The Hart of London, which also has to do with repetition of generational experiences through time, and relationships between animals and humans," Polta says. More than that, though, "[Schwartz] makes films that are really bold in the ways they reach out and embrace sentimentality and emotionalism. They have a faith in sincere emotion that hasn't been really hip in the last decade. I'd like to think that there's a balance of that in this festival, between a certain kind of irony and a certain kind of sincerity. People are trying to work that out right now in the avant-garde world right now, whether to be sincere or ironic."
Another emerging avant-garde star, Michael Robinson, has addressed this dichotomy in his work. His dreamy, glimmering 45-minute Circle in the Sand closes out Crossroads' last program, "Slaves of Sleep"/"Destroy, She Said."
"[Robinson has] made a lot of short films using found footage, stuff from video games, and music you'd hear on the radio — but in a way that sort of dares you to squeeze some real, serious emotion out of pop culture that most people would treat as this kind of ironic thing," Polta says. "Circle in the Sand is mostly, if not completely, footage that he shot. It's a science fiction film with a vague narrative; it feels like it's set at a certain point in human evolution where the mundane world that we live in now isn't going to matter anymore. It's got a lot of mystery in it about what's going to happen next to the human race — which is what we're sort of leaving you with in the final program." *
Fri/5-Sun/7, $10 (festival pass, $50)
2961 16th St, SF