UT Professor’s Film Wins ‘Experimental’ Award at Los Angeles Festival

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KNOXVILLE — The vampire frenzy is sweeping the nation and experimental film is following the trend.

UT Professor of Film and Video Production Norman Magden’s film, “Café,” received first place in the Experimental Film category in the Los Angeles Reel Film Festival. The movie also was selected for screening at festivals in Hollywood, New Orleans, Denver and Ecuador.

In “Café,” Magden uses a theater troupe and a real dance club in Chicago to create his environment where the undead walk the streets. Dracula even makes an appearance when he puts on a floor show for spectators.

“‘Café’ is a mockumentary,” Madgen said. “It is a documentary of a theatrical event. It takes place on a real street in Chicago, but the characters are fictional.

“I’ve been entering festivals for a number of years,” Magden said. “This is the first year I’m showing ‘Café,’ and it’s gotten a lot of feedback.”

This film is part of a larger film Magden is working on that has to do with film realities. He says “Café” is his attempt to create a visual film that is a fantastic fantasy. He creates a visual journey instead of focusing on telling a story. Because it is experimental art, it gives Magden the freedom to express his unique interpretation of toying with a person’s sense of what is concrete and what is abstract.

The film uses a special effect Magden calls “multi-image performance works.” These works involve dancers dressed in white wearing white masks. The dancers carry large screens projecting images that create a whimsical world of movement.

“In my multi-image performance works that incorporate film, I project images from the back of the room and the dancers reflect these images on their white costumes as they move,” Magden said. “I use images from the dance itself. It’s hard to see the difference between the live dancers and the projected images of the same dancers.”

Most images Magden selects depend on the theme of each performance. For instance, he did a piece based on Joan of Arc and had images of flames projected on one of the dancers to depict Joan burning at the stake.

Magden said his films are more pieces of art than stories.

“I mix live with fictional imagery,” he said. “I’m more of an artist than a theater person, so I’m more interested in art than traditional storytelling.”

A UT professor since 1993, Magden teaches and encourages his students to think outside of the proverbial artistic box.

“The mission of my courses is to show students how to create media as a fine art form,” Magden said. “This is an alternative way to think about reality in performance and time arts context.”

A premier showing of his film will be at his A1LabArts annual members meeting on Jan. 30.

C O N T A C T :

Bridget Hardy (865-974-2225, bhardy4@utk.edu)

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