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April 20, 2010 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-04-20

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* The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 9A

Stu ent films in a
festival of lig ts

Forgoing party-friendly hits,
MGMT crafts daring album

Senior Arts Writer
After almost a year of work,
Josh Amir has a pretty good idea
of what message
he wants people Ughtwods
to take from his
film. Saturday
"What the and Sunday
essence of the at 6 p.m.
film (is) about is Natural Science
doing something Audiotrium
you actually care
about doing,
and not doing something because
you're making X amount of dollars,
or because there are certain pres-
sures, but actually finding what
it is that means something to you
and then just devoting your time
to doing it," said Amir, LSA senior.
Amir is talking about his
Screen Arts & Cultures Honors
thesis project, "The Saxophone
Player," an 18-minute short about
an unemployed automotive work-
er in Detroit who finds solace in
jazz music. But he might as well
be talking about the mindset of
the student filmmaker. The Uni-
versity's SAC department is full
of creative, ambitious talents just
like Amir, all of whom devote
countless hours in their produc-
tion classes to crafting films that
mean something to them.
This weekend, while the rest of
campus frantically crams for its
remaining finals, all of these SAC
students will be crammed into
the Natural Science Auditorium,
jubilantly celebrating the fruits
of their labors with the one thing
all aspiring filmmakers crave: an
The Lightworks Festival is a
two-night event held at the end of
every semester by Michigan's Film
and Video Student Association
(FVSA) to give every student in an
SAC production class the chance to
share their work with friends, fam-
ily and fellow craftspeople. LSA
sophomore and FVSA co-president
Barbara Twist plays the largest
hand in its orchestration. The fes-
tival, which accepts submissions

from S.
77 entr
white f
screen c
from s
also do
it scree
the Dai
an ama
ise fort
he add:
it's a ba
age to'
at som
one of
who w
to Lig
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a stan
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AC students only, received work,"'hesaid. "It's like, 'We're all
ies this year in everything showing our work.'"
g from 16mm black-and- This sense of camaraderie is
ilms to animations to docu- the norm within the department,
ies and sitcoms. And they'll where many of the films that will
every single one. be screened at Lightworks have
don't bar anyone who's a behind-the-scenes crossovers
tinaSACproductioncourse with students from other classes.
ubmitting their work. We It's a level of cooperation that the
n't watch the work before department often tries to promote,
ns," wrote LSA senior and to better prepare students for the
t FVSA publicity chair Joel collaborative process of filmmak-
in an e-mail interview with ing that awaits them when they
ly. find jobs in the movie industry.
netimes, that can mean it's The goal of preparation extends
azing piece of work for an into the motivation behind Light-
rad that shows great prom- works as well.
their future artistic career," "(FVSA has) created Light-
ed. "Sometimes, that means works as sortof this avenue where
dly written, poorly lit hom- people can understand sort of the
Wes Anderson that grasps benefit and the excitement asso-
ething but falls short. But ciated with film festivals," said
can be joys to experience, Amir, who has screened other
films at past Lightworks events.
junior Bhandu Chundu is "They have awards and they
two students in SAC 423: sort of structure the festival-simi-
um for the Screenwriter lar to other festivals. But just as
film students grow and gradu-
ate, Lightworks sort of grows and
graduates into other festivals," he
-ightworks added.
It's true that for many students,
rns al 7 Lightworks is far from the final
ab1 iSSions. stop in their filmmaking jour-
neys. Amir and the department's
other five Honors students also
have to look forward to their Hon-
'ill be submitting a work ors Defenses, in which they will
htworks. The 423 produc- screen their works to SAC faculty
ss is unique in that it takes to determine if they are worthy of
t third of a script written meriting "honors" status. Chundu
udent in the highest-level and fellow SAC 423 director Ben
writing class and films it as Ellmann, an LSA senior, will take
d-alone feature. Chundu's their films to the Traverse City
Camp Chapel," is about a Film Festival this July, thanks to
making teen who is sent to connections between their pro-
camp and falls in love with fessor, Jim Burnstein, and TCFF
np director's daughter. founder Michael Moore.
with a total crew of 20 peo- But Amir, Chundu and all the
rking on the same project, students who put together the 77
ng overlap from other SAC Lightworks submissions are still
tion classes, Chundu, who eagerly anticipating the sheer
FVSA's treasurer and will rush that comes from showing a
e the association's co-pres- film to a roomful of peers for the
ext year, is quick to shoot first time, and they're grateful to
he impression that all of the FVSA for the opportunity to do so.
his. "Lightworks is a crazy event,"
not like, 'I'm showing my Amir said. "A crazy-good event."

The Brooklyn duo
reacts to fame with
Daily Music Editor
Fame is a funny thing. For some
artists, a life in the limelight is a
one-way ticket
to self-parody,
coupled with
a complacent MGMT
retreat into the
ranks of the jet Congratulations
set. For others, Columbia
fame is a wak-
ing nightmare,
disaffecting and strange.
Congratulations - a record
made in reaction to the sudden, if
not disorienting, rise to fame duo
Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van-
Wyngarden enjoyed off the back
of 2008's Oracular Spectacular -
shows MGMT falling somewhere
in the middle, its love-hate rela-
tionship with fame not without a
fair dose of alienation.
To say these guys felt pressure
in making the album would be an
understatement. For VanWyngar-
den, the thought of descending into
artistic irrelevance was enough to
trigger panic attacks. And in an
attempt to thwart what might have
been expected by the mainstream,
the group opted to risk estranging
the majority of its fanbase with an
artier, more patient affair. They
wanted to make the "right" album.
But at what point does principle
take precedence over.art?
Expanding upon the more
experimental, texture-driven
second side of their debut, the
group enlisted Peter Kember (bet-
ter known as Sonic Boom and
an ex-member of space-rock act
Spacemen 3) to produce anthe-
mic psychedelia in the vein of The
Flaming Lips or The Arcade Fire.
The result is a skyward extrapola-
tion of British invasion pop akin
to The Kinks and The Zombies,
eschewing the jagged, io-fi guitars
that defined the genre in favor of

The new Nickelodeon cartoon looks trippy, brahh.

dense, layered synths and walls of
reverb-soaked vocals.
Between the Scooby Doo-esque
farfisa organs, snappy backup
vocals, references to British pop
musicians and a left-field 12-min-
ute epic ("Siberian Breaks"), it's
clear the band wishes to be viewed
as an art-rock outfit and not just
a one-trick pop machine. And
while much of the experimenta-
tion works, it often feels claustro-
phobic, leaving something to be
Encapsulating the band's feel-
ings toward the polarizing effects
of fame, the title track is an enjoy-
able tropical hangover with a
breezy synth sporadically con-
necting the dots between chord
changes. Acting as a sort of sequel
to lead single "Flash Delirium," it
makes for one of the most satisfy-
ing moments on the album.
"I Found A Whistle" is remi-
niscent of Lips's more wistful,
star-gazing ballads, with shiny,
churning keyboards surrounding
VanWyngarden's yearning vocals.
"Brian Eno" is a frenetic paean to
the legendary Talking Heads col-

laborator and ambient musician,
complete with quirky organs and
enough blips and bloops to warrant
the track's namesake.
Affirming VanWyngarden's
pleas to experience the album as
a whole, Congratulations success-
fully captures an aesthetic that
remains consistent, if not extreme-
ly compelling, throughout. But
looking at the tracks independently
offers a different story: Each offers
enough willful weirdness that the
album more often than not collaps-
es under its own weight.
To be clear, this is not an album
of singles like "Kids" or "Time to
Pretend." If anything, Congratula-
tions shows a clear - and, at times,
misguided - attempt to staytrue to
MGMT's artistic roots, pop ambi-
tions be damned. But that's not to
say the album wouldn't have ben-
efited from another "Electric Feel."
Goldwasser and VanWyngar-
den seem to know lightning rarely
strikes twice, and only time will
tell whether Congratulations will
ultimately deliver the group to
where it would like to be. But for
now, it seems like the right move.

Whether you're finishing your first term or looking
forward to graduation, summer sessions at the
University of Pittsburgh provide an exciting
opportunity to catch up on needed credits, stay
on track, or get ahead of schedule.
With more than 500 courses offered throughout
the 4-week, 6-week, 12-week, and 14-week
sessions, you choose the classes you want
at the times that fit around your busy schedule.
Best of all, summer sessions credits are
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University of Pittsburgh
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