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For Kansas City Art Institute Film And Animation Students, It's Showtime

Ayah Abdul-Rauf
Kansas City Art Institute

Film and animation students at the Kansas City Art Institute get some big-screen time – and a chance to see how their work goes over with a live audience – at their end-of-semester show on Wednesday at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

“You’re going to see a range of work,” says Trey Hock, an instructor of digital filmmaking. Throughout the two-hour show, he says, viewers should expect to see as many as 25 films, as short as 15 seconds or as long as 15 minutes. Some will have traditional narratives, but other work will involve “experimental narratives” and work that is more “tonal, like visual poetry, where you’re supposed to get a sense or an emotion.”

In a department that teaches animation, photography, filmmaking and new media, students might graduate with the technical skills they’d need to do commercial work, but Hock’s emphasis is on making art – equipping them to create video installations meant to be shown in art galleries.

“We want to do is push them. Because while you’re in the academe, you have the ability to experiment and explore ideas,” Hock says. These trailers show what Hock’s talking about:

Dictum, by freshman Ayah Abdul-Rauf
Total run time: approximately 15 minutes

Abdul-Rauf says: “What I try to do is set up a system of limitations and then introduce an ‘X factor’ and let it loose within those limitations. In this case the limitation is where the camera is going to be and what the subject is allowed to say and do. My subject, the X factor, is the young woman. I tell her what she has to say, but I don’t tell her how to say it or how to feel. I want to address secularism in my generation, and passivity in spirituality and love, and address it in a way that feels safe and causes the viewer to spend a lot of time with it, breathe into the experience. Time is a huge part of it. It’s 16 minutes, so you have to sit with it and get engaged. My goal is that you’re engaged by the woman: She’s looking at you, we’re seeing it over and over. When she repeats something for so long, all those little differences that are outside of your control start to show up. Having no movement of the camera makes it seem more animated – I enjoy that esthetically. ”

Delilah, by junior Ian Cason
Total run time: approximately 9 minutes

"Delilah is a character study about a sociopath. I studied sociopaths and developed this character. The way the film is structured, you’re supposed to relate with her before you realize she’s kind of a monster. It starts with her going to a Dungeons & Dragons session. It’s her first time there, she embarrasses herself, and on her walk home she wishes that the game master would die. The next morning she receives a phone call that he got hit by a car and won’t be leading Dungeons & Dragons anymore. After she hangs up, instead of feeling guilt or negative emotions, she gets sort of excited and wishes other people would die, and realizes she has the power to make people die just by wishing. The Dungeons & Dragons scene and a dream sequence have cut-ins of some abstractions that represent her state of mind. I'm incorporating visual abstraction into a narrative structure. That’s what I was trying to master with the project."

Thomas, by juniors Clark Topjon, Joseph Tuzzolino and Parker Lewis
Total run time: approximately 10 minutes

Tuzzolino says: "Thomas, the main character, is a very average guy in his mid-20s. He ends up in these strange situations as he goes about his day. He has to deal with these problems that he didn’t cause or has no relationship with — they just come to him. It was written from experiences that we all had as collaborators, so it’s essentially just about the mundaneness of life and how you can’t really control what happens around you. None of us had worked on a creative collaboration. We wrote the script together and were there every day on set — because there were three of us, we were able to do a couple more things properly and overall make it more technically sound piece. It's straight narrative the whole way through, but there are a couple of occurrences that make the viewer question whether that could actually happen. I was the cinematographer, so personally I'm most proud of its esthetic. It was just nice to relieve ourselves of some strange feelings that we’ve had, due to these things actually happening to us."

KCAI Film & Animation End of Semester Show |Wednesday, Dec. 10 | 6:45-9 p.m. | Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 1400 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64105, 816-474-4545.

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