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Short Takes 

The Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival. Got a minute?

Wednesday, Aug 15 2001
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Thanks to MTV and 60-second soundbites, we've all got a touch of attention deficit disorder. Fortunately, the ninth annual Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival caters to those who find it painful to sit through a two-hour feature. With 59 entries jampacked into 100 minutes, the festival is proof positive that size doesn't matter -- at least when it comes to cinema.

Established in 1991 by Beth Hall of S.F.'s Artists' Television Access, the homage to bite-size eye candy doesn't give short shrift to narrative; instead it "challeng[es] people to tell their stories in a short space," Hall explains. Because of its edgy feel and low-budget requirement, SAS has grown into a touring venue of international repute, attracting short-shorts from such far-off lands as Japan, Iran, and New Zealand. Thanks to the fest's no-censorship principle, the offerings run the gamut from gorgeous to graphic. Take, for example, Richard Newton's Now Show Yours, a barrage of full-frontal nudity in which a man and a woman shake their private parts during a dance competition set to classical Indian music.

But Hall is quick to point out that while there are plenty of images that may make you cringe, the show's overall feeling is more sophisticated this year, concentrating less on what she calls "14-year-old bathroom humor." Big-name draws such as Michael Moore's Testify, a critique of the 2000 elections created in collaboration with rock band Rage Against the Machine, and Night Shift, a team effort by David Weir and Generation X author Douglas Coupland, should captivate festival first-timers. Bay Area filmmakers make an appearance, too, with pieces by Paul Clipson, Lev and Emre Yilmaz, and Molly Lynch and Eva Sollberger, whose Exotic World offers a sneak peek into the lives of early burlesque dancers. Name your favorite films by filling out a survey after the show -- if you can sit still long enough.

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Lisa Hom

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