Small Bytes Microcinema showcases experimental food films

Small Bytes Microcinema

UI Main Library Learning Commons — Tuesday, April 7 at 6-8 p.m

As yet another feature of the University of Iowa’s ongoing Food for Thought semester, a jury-selected collection of short, food-themed films will screen at the Small Bytes Microcinema Festival closing reception Tuesday, April 7.

The call for entries for the collection was open to the public, and a panel of staff members from the UI’s Digital Studio for Public Arts and Humanities as well as from the UI Main Library’s Digital Research and Publishing Department judged the films. As a requirement for consideration, all films had to focus on food and be two minutes or under in length. Despite the narrow parameters, the judges received a huge variety of films.

“The individual interests and concerns of works exhibited in the Small Bytes Microcinema vary widely,” said Heidi Bartlett, a UI graduate student in Intermedia and coordinator of the event, “from comments on political surveillance and critiques of capitalism, consumption and embodiment, to more formal and strictly aesthetic ways of viewing food.”

Among the films chosen for the collection, three were given particular accolades: best visuals, best narrative and an honorable mention. Zachary Phelps’s piece DK, which studies the decay of various foods using extensive collage and video editing, won best visuals; Jeremy Chen’s piece Pasture, which shows a man stretching his neck out to eat grass from the ground, won best narrative; and Jessica Pleyel’s piece Let Her Eat Cake, portraying a woman reading the Patriot Act aloud while two disembodied arms in business suits attempt to feed her cake, received the honorable mention.

As a collection, these pieces work to raise questions about the role of food in culture and society.

“The works chosen for this show make me ask myself several questions: What am I really eating? Where did it come from? What was the process that went into its creation? What do different types of food symbolize?” said Bartlett. “The old saying, ‘You are what you eat,’ keeps coming to mind.”

The subject matter of many of the films is strange and often disconcerting, but purposefully so; these pieces are working to make viewers consider their relationship with food, and discomfort is a vital component of how they achieve this goal.

“Many of the pieces are even difficult to watch, putting the viewer in an uncomfortable place where they are asked to confront the body and more specifically the mouth,” said Bartlett. “This show calls attention to the use of the body and food as sites for protest and conversation about the meaning of food today.”

The reception will be held in the UI Main Library Learning Commons at 6 p.m, and will feature screenings of all the selected films, an awards ceremony and refreshments.

Small Bytes Microcinema Selected Works

Buffalo Chicken Nuggets directed by Matthew Heller
Cereal Obsession directed by Iris Xing
Crazy for U directed by Luke Larson
DK directed by Zach Phelps
Eat Knots, Shit Shells: Understanding Your Hair and Eggs directed by Christopher Willauer
Let Her Eat Cake directed by Jessica Pleyel
Oranges directed by Joe Bernau
Pasture directed by Jeremy Chen
Pouring Milk directed by Dulcee Boehm
Rice with Katsuobushi directed by Naoki Izumo

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