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San Diego Underground Film Festival Strives To 'Deviate From The Norm'

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The San Diego Underground Film Festival celebrates its fifth year with continued expansion.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego underground film festivals celebrates its fifth year and continued growth. The festival showcases experimental work across a diverse range of genres and media festival organizers, Ryan Char and Rachel Naco Atossa speak with KPBS arts reporter Beth OCHA Mando about what defines underground. This is going to be the San Diego underground film festivals fifth year here in San Diego. So first of all, Ryan, why don't you start by explaining, how do you define underground? Under [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 00:33 ground is like a really broad term, but we feel underground is any type of media or thing that deviates from the norm that you're being fed through Hollywood through even regular film festivals. There's a lot of different people that make media and cinema and music that don't fit the commercial qualities. Be it because it's too weird or too wild or too thoughtful even it's just a more niche.

Speaker 1: 01:06 And Rachel, would you want to add to that? Yeah, I just feel like that we, we tried to, like our interpretation of underground is that we try to, um, I guess include a lot of different types of work, a lot of different types of people. A lot of our work even, um, that we show is like documentary but also hybrid experimental. Sometimes we have a lot of um, narratives that also bridge with documentary. You can't really put like just a finger on just what exactly at each type of film is because they are so, um, they all, they really do kind of like crossover several types of genres or mediums. So yeah.

Speaker 2: 01:42 And also I feel that underground is so, such a fluid term that say in 10 years, if the media that we're playing now becomes more accepted, then we wouldn't be playing it. If marvel films or superhero films become more antiquated than the underground film festival will only play Superhero films in 10 years or whatever. Whenever that happens, if it happens in showcasing underground films. When you are selecting the films that you want to show, are you looking at both the content and the way the films are made? When a submission is turned into us, we look at everything, every aspect of the film, including how it was made, how it was funded, the types of people making it and the types of crew involved kind of the more information the better usually. So we really request that filmmakers write a lot about their films, not just with like, oh, I made it on this type of camera. But it's like the process, the influences, the, you know, different, different aspects of that.

Speaker 1: 02:44 This year you guys are having some world premiers that you're very proud of. Can you talk a little bit about some of those? Start with a Paulos Zuniga who is a San Diego local. His um, thesis film for his MFA, Acoustic, um, was going to be playing on Sunday night and yeah, that's going to be a world premier. We're really excited for that. The film looks amazing. That's one um, wasteland, which is another feature by Johnny Phillips, um, is an animated five-part anthology that kind of explores on mental illness. And um, one of our other world premieres is a performance by a [inaudible] Fernandez. And the music is by Dios Curie and they're flying up from Wahaca and they're doing a projector for formance that involves analog and digital elements. Oh and Melissa, sorry, Melissa Ferrari is also another performance that we're going to be world premiering. It's her thesis, um, MFA Thesis Project. And it's a phantasmagoria which uses a pre electricity projection technology, the magic lantern.

Speaker 2: 03:48 And you've mentioned a couple of times that you have performance. This is an underground film festival, but do you feel it's important to kind of expand that and go beyond just film? So talk a little bit about why you feel that's an important component to this festival. I feel like that's the future. The future of cinema I think is the interactive aspect of it. There's been a lot of talk about, you know, the struggling movie industry, struggling Hollywood. Even. I read an article that Sundance was looking, cause they're getting a new director and they're trying to find someone who can help navigate, you know, a, a less than traditional, uh, route for independent cinema. And we feel at San Diego underground that it's the interactive element. You want to go see something that you can't just see online. You want to go see something that you can't even see in a theater.

Speaker 2: 04:39 You want to have to have the performer, the filmmaker right there. We have a lot of interactive cinema where people will use projectors and then perform with it. And it's not a new idea. But now I think instead of a novel art idea, I think it's almost imperative, like a very important aspect to the cinema growing, including like I think of projected performance as 16 millimeter, but then, uh, you know, Ar VR, if you can use your phone in the middle of a performance, you know, it's like, instead of silence your cell phones, it's like a cell phones encouraged, you know?

Speaker 1: 05:17 Yeah. The immersive experience or the immersive aspect of the expanded cinema performances. It's just, I think a lot of fun. Um, and also we know that, um, San Diego is more of a theater town over a film town. And so I think that kind of really helps to bridge the gap. At least, you know, here for our community, um, to show that, you know, the live performance and aspect and the like, you know, pre-filled, um, actual print can like kind of merge together to create a really great experience. All right, well, I want to thank you both very much for coming in and talking with me. Yeah, thank you. That was Beth Haka Mando speaking with San Diego underground film festivals. Ryan Becerra and Rachel Naco Atossa the festival runs Thursday through Sunday at the 10th Avenue Art Center.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.