Brian Hu: 7th Annual Up&Coming Juror Statement

This year’s Up&Coming Film Festival crop includes some recurring themes: technology, art, identity. But after viewing them all, I’m especially interested in the variety of styles and formats which reflect students’ different inspirations as well as the diverse approaches represented by UCSD’s interdisciplinary film/video curriculum. From short documentary portraits to genre experiments to computer animation, the lineup highlights students’ growing competencies with a number of cinematic tools, utilized to achieve very different goals. If the students are indeed up and coming, they are also straying diagonally, tracing hyperbolic pathways of their own.

The shorts produced by the House Arrest team are especially promising, appropriating old school stylistic tics for a spaced-out future. Meanwhile, two (relatively) longer documentaries Daniella and Living Feral find ways of assembling together loving treatments of their subjects. Daniella begins its examination of its titular subject by cross-cutting her work as a lab researcher by day, with her life as a free spirit at night – and somehow through the storytelling arrives at a fusion of the two, a compelling portrait of a scholar pioneering her own identity. Living Feral examines the economy of stray cats in San Diego by following the felines from capture to spay/neutering to freedom, allowing us to linger on the day-to-day (and night-to-day) labor and never pleading for sympathy.

The standout for me was Yellow, an efficiently constructed work that begins as an orchestration of hypnotic starts and stops, hesitations, and sonic repetition. The story it ultimately tells is surely shocking but, through the way it emerges from the visual and aural patterns, also effectively sad. The medley of the mundane becomes the oppressiveness of the everyday, and possibly, of race as well.