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Movie makers get experimental at Wex

Courtesy of The Wexner Center

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Dani Leventhal and Jesse McLean, two filmmakers who are scheduled to present a screening of video shorts at the Wexner Center, shared their motivations, ideas and inspirations behind their films.

Leventhal and McLean will be introducing “Look At Our Life Now,” a program that will show a handful of videos and short films as a part of the Wexner’s “Visiting Filmmakers” series.

The women each have two short films during the program and will answer questions from the audience after the screening is over.

“I’m excited to be screening at the Wexner Center because I admire that place so much,” McLean said. “It’s always fun to present your work to a new audience and I think this audience will be savvy because the Wexner always presents exciting and interesting stuff.”

She said the chance to show her work at the Wexner is an opportunity she would never turn down, even if she had a scheduling conflict. Her two short films are “Magic for Beginners” and “The Eternal Quarter Inch.”

“Magic for Beginners” is a 20-minute piece that focuses on the intense fandoms that are generated by the media’s focus on certain events, people or movies. Some of the footage is of hundreds of fans of the “Twilight” films mobbing the film’s star, Robert Pattinson, as he tries to get into a waiting vehicle.

The film also had clips of people trying to make themselves cry, as if they were auditioning for a movie.

“I guess I’m really interested in human behavior; that’s a motivation for my artwork,” McLean said. “I was thinking about the fandom and emotional states that can develop and even larger questions outside of media of whether emotions can be artificial.”

Her other film is nine minutes long and is about “rising fundamentalism and a government that cites faith to defend war actions have helped grow a desperate society,” according to wexarts.org.

Leventhal advises being open-minded.

“If the audience is open to experimental film, I think they’ll be engaged,” she said. “If they’re looking for movies, they’ll probably be a little put off.”

Leventhal’s two videos are “Hearts Are Trump Again” and “Draft 9.” The former is a 14-minute mix of real scenes, such as her family playing cards and constructed scenes of a woman waiting for a sperm donor. Some of the footage gets up close to the viewer’s face and the angle of the camera makes it seem as though the audience is invading someone’s personal space. One scene was just a head of hair moving and a still pair of knees.

“I collect images that are around me in everyday scenarios,” Leventhal said. “I also construct scenes. ‘Hearts are trump again’ means the emotions trump the intellect.”

“Draft 9” is a 28-minute portrayal of the line between the living and the dead, according to wexarts.org.

“I’m a sculptor. I think I handled the camera in a way that’s related to that,” Leventhal said. “I use the camera like a tool. I can get that close when I’m filming and the people that I shoot are pretty comfortable with it.”

Both filmmakers tend to work alone and rarely collaborate. McLean said that she is moving past that, however, as she works on a new project that she described as a horror movie. She said she is working on it with former students of hers.

Leventhal said she had to adjust when she began her residency at the Wexner Center.

“I’m working with Mike Olenick and he’s an editing wonder,” she said, “a technician who’s sort of a genius, and that is helping me on this next project, with things that I couldn’t do without him.”

The program begins 7 p.m. today at the Wexner Center. There will be about 100 minutes of films shown. Tickets are $5 for students.

“I want people to ask questions rather than walking away saying ‘I get it’ and thinking they’re resolved now,” McLean said.

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