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Fever Dreams and Heavenly Nightmares: The Short Films of Chel White

2005
Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 1636 Bush St., Suite #2, SF, CA 94109; 415-447-9750
Produced by Chel White
Directed by Chel White
DVD, color, 60 min.
Sr. High - Adult
Animation, Film Studies, Art


Reviewed by Dr. Beth A. Kattelman, The Ohio State University

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 9/6/2006

Chel White is a director/animator who has been making independent films for over 20 years. White has directed many commercials, videos, multi-media installations and feature film effects, but it is his short films for which he is best known. White’s short films have won several awards and have been featured in festivals throughout the world. This DVD collects most of White’s short films into one volume. These films present the vast array of techniques and images that White has explored throughout his career, and their juxtaposition provides the viewer with a good overview of the themes of his work; themes that include: alienation, danger, obsession, dreams and love. White creates his short films around the works of poets and essayists. For example, Magda, Dirt and Soulmate are based on stories by monologist and radio artist Joe Frank, while White’s most recent film, A Painful Glimpse Into My Writing Process (In Less Than 60 Seconds) is based on a humorous essay by Northwest poet Scott Poole. This last is one of my favorites, and should provide a good chuckle for anyone who has ever sat down and faced the dreaded blank page.

Although many of the videos on this DVD are rather gloomy and angst-ridden, they contain an undercurrent of subtle, dark humor. Soulmate, one of the creepiest, presents an extended monologue delivered by actress Vana O’Brien as a landlady who has a slightly sinister obsession with a young man who is a tenant in her building.

There are a few nice extras on the DVD, including some short animation experiments, commercials, biographies of the creative team behind White’s short films and an interview with White. Unfortunately, the interviewer interrupts and interjects confusing comments and opinions into the conversation rather than letting White speak for himself, thus making it a somewhat flawed example of White explicating his work. It does present a nice opportunity, however, to see a bit of the man who has created these evocative films.

This DVD is recommended for both public and academic libraries and should especially be considered for special libraries dedicated to the preservation of film and video. White is a gifted animation artist and filmmaker, and this handy volume gives viewers access to some of his most influential works.