Notes from the indie underground: the ATA Film Festival

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For more reviews from the sixth ATA Film and Video Festival, check out this week's film listings. The fest kicks off tonight with an opening reception.

Piena En Mi Alexandra Cuesta’s short film “Piena En Mi” is an impressionistic portrait of Los Angeles, where, in addition to Quito, Ecuador, the filmmaker lives and works. Primarily shot from a bus that traverses the sprawling metropolitan, the film is told with the the city’s different neighborhoods, its sounds, and its patchwork of ethnic groups. It’s an honest portrait of  LA — economically depressed in most places, polluted, congested – but beautiful, nonetheless, and unapologetic. Cuesta treats her city with tenderness and it renders her film graceful and intimate. It’s sensitive to the very subtlties that make LA radiate with character, whether it’s odd haircuts, dirty bus windows, or bells on an ice cream carriage. It’s in these shots that the filmmaker’s background in street photography shows, and make it a highlight of the ATA festival. Program One, "City Symphonies"
Imperceptihole Vivid and atmospheric, “Imperceptihole” is a high contrast, black & white film by Lori Felker and Robert Todd. Developed from a correspondence wherein the two filmmakers exchanged film rolls, “Imperceptihole” is shot between desolate woods, a hay bail structure, an ice skating rink, and several other seemingly random places. Using sychzophrenic pans, transparent shots, breathing and harsh grating sounds that gradually intensify, the film creates the sensation of a deep, hair-raising descent. It’s the camerawork that builds up this sensation, which is either swinging, crawling, sprinting or dead still. And it’s that very camerawork that is most impressive about the film. Vaguely disquieting, the film is initially very stimulating, but in light of its ambiguity, rather too long. Over the course of the fourteen minutes,  the visual experience is lost and you're wondering what it's all about. Program One, "City Symphonies"

Workers Leaving the Googleplex While working for a company called TransVideo, Andrew Wilson was subcontracted by Google to work at its Silicon Valley headquarters where he started an investigation into the company's class structure and what the different colored badges worn by employees represented. “I found the social situation interesting,” he says in the film. He became particularly interested in the yellow badge wearers, employees who are denied most of the Google benefits such as bikes and gourmet meals. Wilson’s investigation led him into conflict with Google when he was caught filming the yellow badge wearers in the parking lot and trying to interview them. Ultimately, he was fired from TransVideo. Wilson’s film is an interesting look at class as well as an honest personal story, and an inside look at the workings of one of America’s most powerful companies. It’s a story you could very well have heard on “This American Life.” Program Two, "Sling-Shots"

"ATA Film and Video Festival"

Opening reception Wed/19, 7 p.m

Short film screenings Thurs/20 ("City Symphonies") and Fri/21 ("Sling-Shots"), 8 p.m.

Super 8 film workshop, Sun/23 and Nov. 12, 1-4 p.m., free-$35

Artists' Television Access
992 Valencia, SF
www.atasite.org