James Fotopoulos—Short Films (1999-2001)

With four completed features and 20 shorts, James Fotopoulos may be the most prolific independent Chicago filmmaker still in his 20s. His best works might be called philosophical horror films; in many of them women's bodies seem trapped in celluloid prisons, a notion not inappropriate to our image-glutted age. In Growth (1999) two nudes are intercut with rapidly flickering black-and-white frames, and one's body is outlined by scratches on the film. In Consumed 1-5 (2001) a woman is superimposed on a doll that's treated as sensually as an actual body, and the frequent sections of solid color, combined with rhythmic industrial sounds, suggest that individual identity is being consumed. The Circle 2 (2001) begins with superimpositions of blurry colored scratches that create illusions of depth, and subsequent close-ups of a forest floor reveal similar line patterns. Harsh as all this may sound, one comes away with the sense that some fragment of an image or flicker of light has eluded the celluloid traps, if only for an instant. Nine more films complete the program.

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