Art house rocks

Bryhanna Greenough says short movies about eggs and sheep may indeed be weird, but what’s the fun of life without a little bit of weird?

Sitting in a padded seat with a biggie pop mounted in your cup holder is not the only way to take in a movie. For the first time in the 17-year history of the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, a screening of art films will being presented in a space and style altogether different from the typical movie-watching experience.
The Rooms and the WFF have joined forces so that this Friday evening all three floors of the ginormous Rooms gallery will be transformed into a theatre. The walls will come alive with moving images as art films run in a loop and viewers walk around and explore.

Each floor will have its own look-and-feel. Shauna McCabe, the director of The Rooms and curator of the Art House event, is arranging the films to work together on a certain thematic or visual level.
The event will showcase about 20 art films, each handpicked from among this year’s record-breaking 462 submissions.  Short in length and image-based, art flicks are the hors d’oeuvres of the film world.
Jon Montes,  one of the organizers of the event, says the films are generally more introspective than movies you’d find elsewhere.
“We have everything from dance pieces, to footage of a sheep chewing, to a metaphor of growing up with competitive parents done through sports,” he says.
In Chewing for Peace, the camera focuses on a sheep munching on grass for three minutes. Chalazae   shows a cracked egg – in all its raw glory – taking a dip in a vat of water. Islanded by Fields puts pagan gods in a prairie background.
These filmmakers, Montes says are “taking ideas and running with them as opposed to taking stories and running with them.”
Of course, it’s no wonder these films are absent from commercial theatres, but it’s surprising to note that art films are also rare in film festivals. Slipped into the kettle alongside more story-driven shorts, these films might jar the audience, since they speak in a language more akin to poetry than the upright tones of narrative fiction.
“We’re trying to put a highlight on experimental film,” Montes says, “to promote them for their own sake.” 
While it makes perfect sense that these films are presented in a way that better suits their style, the event is, according to Montes, also an attempt to make the Women’s Film Festival and The Rooms more community-based. It is a free event and it is a truly joint effort.
“It isn’t more Rooms-planted or more festival-planted,” Montes asserts, “it’s a combination.”
Art House at The Rooms is absolutely free event and it may be one of the few opportunities to experience films this far out this year.
So forget the popcorn and soda, go to The Rooms this Friday, grab a glass of wine, and graze the complimentary spread of hot and cold and projected hors d’oeuvres.
Munch, mingle, and follow your eyes.