Nothing Girl

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Dave Watterson

Nothing Girl

Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:48 pm

I reckon we may need a separate thread for discussion of this film ...

I was not a BIAFF judge this year, but I certainly agree "Nothing Girl" is
a Gold Standard. Whether it is one stage higher as an International Standard
I am not so sure ... but that's a relatively small question.

There seems to me to be a difference between breaking the "rules" (orthodoxies)
of film making accidentally and doing so deliberately. Pierre Daudelin was
doing it deliberately.

The opening shots where just a strip of the screen was used forced us to
realise this movie is a construct. We are reminded that we are seeing only
what the director chooses to show us and are not given the whole picture.
It is not the type of movie where you let yourself be immersed in the story
and emotions.

The ultra-soft-focus shots make us curious to discern what we are seeing
and again reminds us that we are not given the privileged position usually
offered to film audiences where we can see and understand all.

I am not so convinced that the skaky shots had the same effect but I think
they were intended to do so.

These "bad shots" were intercut with crisply focused ones to demonstrate
that they were intentional.

Why all that alienation of the audience?

It forces us to think more than we usually do for a movie. Normally we allow
the actions and words of characters to propel us through a story - here we
have to analyse the action ourselves a bit. How innocent is the girl? She
seems like a kid with an idle curiosity about the mechanic - he seems as
alone in that place as she is (c.f. the playground she looks at through a
wire fence.) But putting her knickers through the laundrette is an odd move.
Getting into an anonymous car at the end of the movie is an odd move. Could
she be a child prostitute?

Mind you as a later film, "Reasons", reminded us perceptions can be misleading.

Dave

Willy Van der Linden

Re: Nothing Girl

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:57 pm

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
There seems to me to be a difference between breaking the "rules" (orthodoxies)
of film making accidentally and doing so deliberately. Pierre Daudelin
was
doing it deliberately.

The opening shots where just a strip of the screen was used forced us to
realise this movie is a construct. We are reminded that we are seeing only
what the director chooses to show us and are not given the whole picture.
It is not the type of movie where you let yourself be immersed in the story
and emotions.

The ultra-soft-focus shots make us curious to discern what we are seeing
and again reminds us that we are not given the privileged position usually
offered to film audiences where we can see and understand all.

I am not so convinced that the skaky shots had the same effect but I think
they were intended to do so.

These "bad shots" were intercut with crisply focused ones to demonstrate
that they were intentional.

Why all that alienation of the audience?

It forces us to think more than we usually do for a movie. Normally we
allow
the actions and words of characters to propel us through a story - here
we
have to analyse the action ourselves a bit. How innocent is the girl? She
seems like a kid with an idle curiosity about the mechanic - he seems as
alone in that place as she is (c.f. the playground she looks at through
a
wire fence.) But putting her knickers through the laundrette is an odd move.
Getting into an anonymous car at the end of the movie is an odd move. Could
she be a child prostitute?

Mind you as a later film, "Reasons", reminded us perceptions can be misleading.
Oh, Dave, what are you telling us now ? You know Rubens, don't you ? And
Margritte ? And other Flemish painters ? But do you know Panamarenko and
our Flemish Pope of Art, Jan Hoet ? They seem to be world famous now. In
Ghent you can admire their pieces of art. For instance : You're standing
in one of the enormous museum halls of S.M.A.K. and there is only one object
: a pink chair. That's it. Visitors are looking at it. If you ask them the
meaning of it and what feelings it evokes then honest people say : I don't
know. But there are also parvenus who try to explain "everything". When entering
the museum you receive a leaflet saying : "Do up your laces, prick up your
ears and enter the world of contemporary art. Give your opinion, express
your feelings and share your experience with others. Test your knowledge
in this adventurous museum." Sorry, but I think it's a bit like "Nothing
Girl". You say : "It forces us think more than we usually do for a movie."
Panamarenko's airplane models made of paper force us to think more than we
usually do when watching a painting made by Margritte, Delvaux or other artists.
It is similar, isn't it ? I prefer simplicity. Perhaps because I'm still
old fashioned.

Peter Rouillard

Re: Nothing Girl

Post by Peter Rouillard » Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:17 am

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
I reckon we may need a separate thread for discussion of this film ...

I was not a BIAFF judge this year, but I certainly agree "Nothing Girl"
is
a Gold Standard. Whether it is one stage higher as an International Standard
I am not so sure ... but that's a relatively small question.

There seems to me to be a difference between breaking the "rules" (orthodoxies)
of film making accidentally and doing so deliberately. Pierre Daudelin
was
doing it deliberately.

The opening shots where just a strip of the screen was used forced us to
realise this movie is a construct. We are reminded that we are seeing only
what the director chooses to show us and are not given the whole picture.
It is not the type of movie where you let yourself be immersed in the story
and emotions.

The ultra-soft-focus shots make us curious to discern what we are seeing
and again reminds us that we are not given the privileged position usually
offered to film audiences where we can see and understand all.

I am not so convinced that the skaky shots had the same effect but I think
they were intended to do so.

These "bad shots" were intercut with crisply focused ones to demonstrate
that they were intentional.

Why all that alienation of the audience?

It forces us to think more than we usually do for a movie. Normally we
allow
the actions and words of characters to propel us through a story - here
we
have to analyse the action ourselves a bit. How innocent is the girl? She
seems like a kid with an idle curiosity about the mechanic - he seems as
alone in that place as she is (c.f. the playground she looks at through
a
wire fence.) But putting her knickers through the laundrette is an odd move.
Getting into an anonymous car at the end of the movie is an odd move. Could
she be a child prostitute?

Mind you as a later film, "Reasons", reminded us perceptions can be misleading.

Dave

I think Dave is right that a seperate thread is used for this 'film', especially
now that we have also seen Willy and Ken's thoughts on it. I am somewhat
surprised that Dave thinks it worthy of a gold rating - the other golds I
saw over the weekend were in a different class! As you have all mentioned
the deliberately out of focus shots, can anyone explain the ones which were
out of focus but which the camera was left 'hunting' for focus, obviously
because the camera had been left on 'auto focus'. To leave in shots like
this in a 'serious' film is unforgiveable. Also, most of the shots were very
badly framed. I could go on and on about editing, length of shots, etc,etc,
but all I would like to hear now is for someone to actually tell us what
it is all about! - none have so far, although Dave may be the closest. I
do admit that I have a built in aversion to pretentiousness in ANY art form,
so I am at a disadvantage here in trying to work out the 'plot' or 'message'
behind it. Perhaps the judges could explain why they rated it so highly?
I think Ken may be right in his idea of "we can't understand it so it must
be good - let's give it an International Award". Personally, I would be hard
pressed to give it a Bronze!

Peter Rouillard

Willy Van der Linden

Re: Nothing Girl

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Tue Apr 11, 2006 7:39 pm

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
There seems to me to be a difference between breaking the "rules" (orthodoxies)
of film making accidentally and doing so deliberately. Pierre Daudelin
was doing it deliberately. These "bad shots" were intercut with crisply
focused ones to demonstrate
that they were intentional.
"Peter Rouillard" <rouillard@cwgsy.net> wrote:
I am somewhat surprised that Dave thinks it worthy of a gold rating - the
other golds I
saw over the weekend were in a different class! As you have all mentioned
the deliberately out of focus shots, can anyone explain the ones which were
out of focus but which the camera was left 'hunting' for focus, obviously
because the camera had been left on 'auto focus'.
I think Ken may be right in his idea of "we can't understand it so it must
be good - let's give it an International Award". Personally, I would be
hard
pressed to give it a Bronze!
Does Dave really mean what he has written ? I'm in doubt about it. Or perhaps
he had already seen "Nothing Girl" many times before and after the tenth
time he said to himself : "eureka !" Now I understand the film ! Do you remember
what I've told you about that pink chair in the museum hall in Ghent ? If
I don't understand that kind of art, please accept my apologies for being
simple-minded. Also that Flemish "artist" did it deliberately. Hopefully
BIAFF does not become a festival for snobbish experimentalists. Also in purely
experimental "art" you are asked to think hard about the meaning of paintings,
objects, etc... In Belgium that kind of art is usually made by queer fish,
by nonconformists and extravagants. Even their appearance may give them a
bonus. Wearing a tie may work to your disadvantage. Hopefully the judges,
Ken, have not given Pierre Daudelin's film an international award because
they didn't understand it and thought it would be good for that reason. Giving
awards to experimental films may demotivate good filmmakers to take part
in BIAFF in the future. Luckily Florent Vanopstal, our Belgian topclass filmmaker,
who has won the well-deserved award for "best camerawork" and a "gold standard"
was not in Bedford. He would be very disappointed and he would be right.
But now, let's forget "Nothing Girl" and let's think about the other films.
BIAFF in Bedford was one of the best festivals in the last decade. It deserves
an international award and so do the organizers.

Dave Watterson

Re: Nothing Girl

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:04 pm

I was not a judge, but I helped at the judging weekend and first saw the film
there. In that 75 minutes those judges also saw films to which they gave
Bronze, Bronze Plus and Silver awards. There was no question of "the emperor's
clothes" because no one knew what to expect. Each film that was presented
could have been a Blue Standard or the Daily Mail winner.

Those judges (and I) all thought 'Nothing Girl' deserved at least a Gold
Standard.

The final judges can and sometimes do send a film back down from Gold Award
to Silver Plus if they think it not worthy. They did not. They put it up
a stage higher.

Don't get me wrong. I prefer narrative films which I can easily understand.
But I am also willing to accept that there are other types of film which
have their own merits.

The most important point is that everyone who saw the film will agree that
the out-of-focus shots etc were all done deliberately. They were not the
mistakes of a first-time film maker. The author had an intention and knew
how to use the tools available to express it. The intention was not to offer
a simple narrative.

I think this makes it more interesting than a red chair or other object placed
in an art gallery ... or, come to that, an interesting rock placed carefully
in a Japanese sand garden. The author was trying to take us on some sort
of journey. He certainly stimulated a lot of debate about the characters
and the situation.

No one would want the whole festival to be filled with this type of movie
- or with any other single type. Too many documentaries one after the other
would get tedious, no matter how good they are. If we had five hours of
Urbain Appeltans rich colours we might long for some pastels. I'm not personally
fond of rather laboured "club comedies" especially when accompanied by "comic"
music - but a lot of people are and I welcome their inclusion in festival.

We are a broad church.

Dave (preaching to the unbelievers!)

Peter Rouillard

Re: Nothing Girl & Judges

Post by Peter Rouillard » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:49 am

"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:
I was not a judge, but I helped at the judging weekend and first saw the
film
there. In that 75 minutes those judges also saw films to which they gave
Bronze, Bronze Plus and Silver awards. There was no question of "the emperor's
clothes" because no one knew what to expect. Each film that was presented
could have been a Blue Standard or the Daily Mail winner.

Those judges (and I) all thought 'Nothing Girl' deserved at least a Gold
Standard.

The final judges can and sometimes do send a film back down from Gold Award
to Silver Plus if they think it not worthy. They did not. They put it up
a stage higher.
I think that what has come out of this is that same old problem, - the infallability
of judging panels. Dave is a very knowledgeable and experienced judge who
is also well up on the work of amateur film makers, and I think he has made
a decent stab at explaining the position of 'Nothing Girl'. What has become
apparent in recent years is the very diverse ratings on movies in all festivals,
British or foreign, and this is not going to go away. The recent years have
opened up a whole new world to the serious amateur, with the quality of equipment
and editing facilities being more and more available and now being so much
easier to compile a watchable film. Imagine going back to Standard 8mm film
with sound on magnetic stripe! The amateur film maker has never had it so
good! So, when we see a film like 'Nothing Girl', we have to wonder why it
was received so controversially. It proves, I think, that competitions are
becoming more of a 'lottery' than a 'competition' and we should look at it
in this light every time we send in our masterpiece for 'judgement'. Personally,
I now just hope that any of my films will get a showing, whether it wins
gold, siver or bronze etc. This is what makes a festival, after all! A really
outstanding film like those in this year's BIAFF International line up will
probably do well in most festivals - but don't bank on it, you never know!
(I could write reams about the judges decisions at last years UNICA!)
Generally, if a film is well made and ENTERTAINING, it will have a pretty
good chance of a showing.
On another thread, I should just like to add my congratulations to Magda
Verbist, who Willy reminds us, helped Urbain with his film 'Hannah' and others.
Definitely a name to remember associated with that stunning movie.

Peter Rouillard

Ian Gardner

Re: Nothing Girl

Post by Ian Gardner » Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:22 am

"Dave Watterson" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
I reckon we may need a separate thread for discussion of this film ...

I was not a BIAFF judge this year, but I certainly agree "Nothing Girl"
is
a Gold Standard. Whether it is one stage higher as an International Standard
I am not so sure ... but that's a relatively small question.

There seems to me to be a difference between breaking the "rules" (orthodoxies)
of film making accidentally and doing so deliberately. Pierre Daudelin
was
doing it deliberately.

The opening shots where just a strip of the screen was used forced us to
realise this movie is a construct. We are reminded that we are seeing only
what the director chooses to show us and are not given the whole picture.

Dave
I did not see the film, but it sounds interesting. `Letting the audience
see what the director intends`, sounds like a good idea. If you did an intro
to a film using this idea then, 1. You could have a compleatly different
story using the same film snippets. 2. Very Powerfull editing indeed. It`s
like a director saying to the editor `Do what you like with my film! The
editing has given this film Power. Sounds good.
I am all for breaking the rules when filming. The unfortunate thing when
your entering a competition is that you have to make it look very intentional
or otherwise the judges will give you poor marks for `Camera Shake` and `Focus`
etc.
If anyone has seen `Hustle` on BBC1, then you would be blown out of your
mind with all the `New` camera shots. If it was judged in a comp for Camera
Techniques, then if the judges were not open minded, then it may do badly.


Our club has/is/will be going through a difficult time. With resignations.
We had an `5 Minute Open Competition`, which means anything goes. This is
good because it gives people the chance to do a short film that does not
fit into any catigory. But the down side is that it is VERY HARD to judge.
With stills to video, short films, animations etc, it`s hard to give points
because some films don`t include certain pointable bits. There is more to
this story but it has turned out bad. Time will be a healer.

So the question is `Do we treat our hobby in filmmaking serious or do we
do it for fun?`

Sorry if this has changed the thread slightly, but it is loosely connected.
I hope you all had a nice holiday.

Thanks.

Ian Ex Sec Gardner

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