Resfest - a decade of influence

Touring digital festival notches up ten years.

by Amber Wilkinson

Brazillian animation Tyger was inspired by William Blake

Brazillian animation Tyger was inspired by William Blake

It’s hard to believe that a project which began in a San Francisco basement would, 10 years on, be gracing 45 cities across the globe with its presence – but this is the success story of Resfest.

A pioneering movement, when Resfest started up it was right at the cutting edge, with DV cameras and desktop editing systems just reaching film-makers. Even then, there were murmurings about the future technological possibilities of digital film – and its ability to push the boundaries of film-making by mixing media and technique. A decade on and much of this has come to pass. The digital age is truly with us and the internet has blown open the doors of distribution for even the smallest, most cash-strapped of film-makers. A fact borne out by the rise and rise of video sharing sites such as, which has just been sold to the search engine master Google for £884m.

This year, Resfest is emphasising its personal touch - the ability to come together with like-minded souls across the globe and share your ideas in person, not just over the net.

“In at time when we have unprecedented access to concepts and content from all over the globe and the world feels smaller than ever before, there’s still nothing better than meeting up in person to exchange new ideas and experience new approaches to making art,” says a Resfest spokesman.

“This year’s anniversary tour brings the global creative community together to experience and celebrate 10 years of innovative cinema, and to explore the future together.”

There are plenty of examples of collaborative work on display at this year’s festival, which kicks off in Chicago on October 19, before making its way across six continents, debuting in the UK in Bristol on October 25.

Several of the films give directorial credit to a collective, including animated feast of imagination The Tale Of How, pictured left, which sees South African graphic designers, musicians and artists come together creatively and Birds by well-established French collective Pleix.

Many of the cutting-edge techniques and innovations on show are also making their way into more mainstream film-making. Animation has never been in so many unexpected places as it has in the last 12 months, from the opening credit sequences of M Night Shyamalan’s Lady In The Water to genre-bending Danish film Allegro and Aussie live-action/animation hybrid Look Both Ways. Michel Gondry’s Science Of Sleep – due for release in summer but now disappointingly pushed back to next February in the UK – is a prime example of this pushing of the envelope. His Gael Garcia Bernal starrer features leaps of animated imagination and the director is something of a Resfest darling, having been granted a retrospective at the fest in 2003.

But that is the beauty of Resfest – it frequently highlights the successes of tomorrow. Certainly, Chris Shepherd’s innovative mix of animation in Silence Is Golden is a match for Gondry in terms of imagination and Sam Arthur’s short This Is Me, successfully embraces the worlds of animation and live action, too.

This year’s programme shows its usual breadth and is one of the strongest line-ups to date, possibly due to the record 2200 film submissions Resfest received.

UK highlights include vastly different music documentaries Rock The Bells – about a concert organiser’s attempts to reunite the Wu-Tang Clan - and exploration of The Pixies, loudQUIETloud.

Engaging though these feature-length films are, the festival’s real strengths lie in its short film programming, with all three shorts programmes offering a wealth of talent and variety, from the burnished glory of animation/puppetry hybrid Tyger and clever documentary making of 0.08 to unsettling Sundance short film winner BugCrush.

Other showcases include By Design – a compilation of “the best in motion graphics and computer-generated imagery” and video extravaganzas Cinema Electronica and Videos That Rock.

Resfest will also celebrate its first decade with a programme of “Ten Seminal Short Films”, while issue-based shorts can their chance to shine in Everything Under The Sun – Film-making With A Purpose and Radiohead receive a dedicated retrospective.

Read our Resfest reviews here.

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