Court 13 Collective among highlights of the GFF Short Film Festival programme
Glasgow Film Festival blog
Sunday 21 February
Early yesterday afternoon I was back at the CCA Courtyard, the scene of Friday night’s party, but it was now home to a much more relaxed and clear-eyed clientele, downing their brunches and reading the papers. I wondered for a moment if I had dreamed the previous night’s goings-on, so removed was this scenario from that one, but then I encountered one of the Short Film Festival hosts in a somewhat bleary-eyed state, and realised not only that it did all happen, but that there were brains much more disorientated than mine as a result.
This is one of the lovely things about the Shorts programme in the GFF; it’s so intense - just one weekend, in one location, packed with parties, screenings and networking opportunities – that if you totally commit to it you can be part of a little community going through it all together, and even as it grows year-on-year it holds on to its sense of being the special thing that not many people know about.
The reason I was back in the CCA was to meet with Ray Tintori, one of the co-founders of the Court 13 Collective, a group of immensely creative new filmmakers working out of various US locations from New York to New Orleans. He’s in town to both showcase a retrospective of Court 13’s work, and be part of the jury judging the short films in competition here, so I thought I’d grab the opportunity to find out more. After an initial panic over his whereabouts in the city (like any hip young filmmaker, being pinned down isn’t Tintori’s top priority), he materialised and we got a few minutes to chat.
Court 13 is the group of friends Tintori and his fellow filmmaker Benh Zeitlin have done film projects with for the past seven years – the name comes from an abandoned squash court they commandeered to produce their first film in. The films range from Egg, a surreal and intricately crafted stop-motion film that transposes Moby Dick to the inside of an egg, to a quite wonderful live-action film called Glory at Sea, filmed on location in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans and offering a metaphysical perspective on the real destruction and rebuilding of lives there. It’s quite stunning stuff – most of it available on YouTube – and made a clear impact on the audience at last night’s screening.
Tintori was most keen to emphasise that, from their first no-budget projects to bigger, glossy music videos – most notably the terrifying promo for MGMT’s ‘Kids’ – they’ve kept the same basic group of people working together, and even though both he and Zeitlin are now moving into feature film development, the foundation of the Court 13 experience has allowed them to confidently do that: “I’ve been waiting until the moment was right, to make a feature, and Zeitlin has gotten amazing conditions – he has final cut, which is unheard of for a first-time director. And it’s a small feature, but it’s more money than we’ve ever seen before!” While he was quick to talk up Zeitlin’s work rather than his own, I couldn’t let Tintori go without mentioning the fact that his own first feature is being produced by Being John Malkovich director Spike Jonze – not exactly a small name to be associated with: “Yeah, it’s amazing to have someone who has had that much of an influence on the filmmaking culture supporting me”, he understated, “and he’s just a lovely person”.
Overall I got a very positive sense from speaking with Tintori, that in a very oppressive and conventionalising industry he and his friends have found a way to just do things their own way and not compromise. Maybe my romantically hopeful notions yesterday morning weren’t so pie-in-the-sky after all.
Next GFF blog will be tomorrow, Monday 22 February