Nature Kids | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Anew group of independent filmmakers calling themselves X-Film Chicago initiates "Barbarians at the Gate," a biweekly series of experimental film screenings, with this nine-film program of unusually high quality. In New Moon Donna Cameron combines cutouts from newspapers with simple line drawings and TV images. Avoiding postmodernism's familiar ironic approach, the film presents close-ups of newspaper fragments as solid, almost sculptural entities. The next moment we're off and running, dots and shapes flickering by in wildly irregular rhythms. There's a powerful sense of it not being a film at all, but a collage of three-dimensional objects seen from an ant's-eye view. Francis Schmidt's Trip East for Color is a gentle, quirky personal travelogue, full of quiet humor and surprising shifts in tone. Amid home-movieish pans of Niagara Falls, Schmidt freezes on the moment when the flashbulb of a distant tourist is visible across the river, wondering on the sound track if he is also captured on the tourist's snapshot. In Robert Flowers's haunting, poetic pseudodrama Are There Fairies Dancing on the Lawn?...And if There Are Can I Catch Them in a Net? an unearthly light bathes the often-silhouetted characters, but a surprising switch to a series of family snapshots at the end breaks visual consistency while adding to the mystery. Also showing are films by Dominic Angerame, Dirk de Bruyn, Carolyn Macartney, Kristin Ingimarsdottir, and Len Lye. International Cinema Museum, 319 W. Erie, Wednesday, April 5, 7:00, 654-1426.

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