Music videos have been wowing audiences for nearly 40 years, pretty much ever since MTV first played The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star” in 1981. Since then icons such as Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Kanye West and countless others have used the video form to find new avenues of expression and to connect with fans. Music videos have also given numerous acclaimed filmmakers their very first high-profile Hollywood jobs—from David Fincher, to Spike Jonze, to Michel Gondry and Sofia Coppola.
It’s befitting, then, that the 2018 LA Film Festival should stop to recognize the innovative work of filmmakers and artists being done in the ever-evolving music video field. The Festival’s inaugural Music Video showcase—held September 23 at ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City—was a beautiful display of art meeting talent to create visionary pieces of cinema… all on the big screen.
From political statements to expressions of the singular need for love, these musician/filmmaker collaborators put their all into these pieces, and did not disappoint. Here are a few of the notable highlights:
Things kicked off with “Dis Generation” by A Tribe Called Quest, directed by Hiro Murai. Murai—recently Emmy-nominated for his work on FX’s Atlanta—is known for jaw-dropping and engaging videos such as “This is America” by Childish Gambino and “Airplanes” by B.O.B. featuring Haley Williams. In the clip Murai’s repetitive use of looped aerial pans proved an interesting way to capture the action. In addition to the striking black and white and Murai’s camera, there was the truth of Tribe’s message.
“Terraform,” by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett and directed by Sil Van Der Woerd and Jorik Dozy, was a mesmerizing nonfiction piece about the life of a sulfur miner name Bas. Every day Bas and 100 fellow miners work in toxic conditions to provide for their families in Indonesia. The captivating piece highlights the inhumane conditions these men work for less than $10 a day. Bas faces a reduced life expectancy and deteriorating health to maintain the wellbeing of his family.
“Clutch,” by Stam Goody and directed by Christopher Ripley, showed the progression of a young black track star who rises to fame only the have the man who first believed in him killed by the cops. The video is especially intriguing in light of the recent news of Nike’s partnership with Colin Kaepernick, posing the question: how do you stand up for what’s right in a position of power?
“Found,” by Toulouse and directed by Jason Sondock and Simon Davis (the duo behind the filmmaking collective rubber band.) follows a man who dies in a car accident. The man’s soul leaves his body to wander to the doorstep his lover. A geothermal imaging system shows them making love one last time. The action holds true of the song’s lyrics: “Oh I need to found. Back to you. Back to you.”
“Loving is Easy,” by Rex Orange County, directed by Chris Ullnes. This adorable stop-motion piece features two wooden figures that live with each other and also play music together. It’s all very fun and feel-good… until one of the figures is abducted by aliens, that is (spoilers!).
“Camisa Al Reves,” by Thee Commons and directed by Andrew Vasquez, is a fun take on a 1990s quinceañera: puffy dresses, overbearing family, pro wrestling—what else could you ask for? Vasquez uniquely tells the story through the eyes of an aging grandmother, reminiscing while watching a tape of the party. The clip cleverly contains another ‘90s trope: of someone partially taping over the party with a wrestling match. Later in the piece, the two wrestlers turn into the two boys fighting to dance with the birthday girl.
“Hard World,” by YACHT and directed by Mike Hollingsworth, parodies the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses”—but through the perspective of feet. There’s Happy Foot, the guy we all love to hate; and Sad Foot, a regular Joe just trying to make it through the day. While Happy Foot has the hot car, perfect job and gets the girl, Sad Foot and his bandaged big toe hobble around on crutches and get into fights with printer cartridges. As Happy Foot continues to win, Sad Foot sees no way out and tries to end it all—but even that turns out to a failed attempt that ultimately serves Happy Foot.
Below is a complete list of all of the the participants in this years music video program:
“Apartment” by Bobi Andonov, directed by Ellis Bahl
“Art in Motion” by Serj Tankian, directed by Hayk Matevosyan
“Bones” by Anousheh, directed by Hunter Brumfield
“Camisa Al Reves” by Thee Commons, directed by Andrew Vasquez
“Clutch” by Stam Goody, directed by Christopher Ripley
“Dis Generation” by A Tribe Called Quest, directed by Hiro Murai
“Dream” by ZHU & Nero, directed by Elliott Sellers and Erik Ferguson
“Found” by TOULOUSE, directed by rubber band.
“Half a Million” by The Shins, directed by LAMAR +NIK
“Hard World” by YACHT, directed by Mike Hollingsworth
“Heart Attack” by Tune-Yards, directed by Mimi Cave
“I Want You” by Chris Lake, directed by Jose Maria Norton
“INDIE” by Greenspan ft. Christen B, directed by Angel Kristi Williams
“Land of the Fairies” by Rami Fortis, directed by Amiel Kestenbaum
“Lost Angeles” by Capital, directed by Evanston Moore
“Loving is Easy” by Rex Orange County, directed by Chris Ullens
“My Way” by Noah Cyrus x One Bit, directed by WATTS
“Pleader” by alt-J, directed by Isaiah Seret
“Side by Side” by Save the Emotion, directed by Bohdan Zajcenko
“Terraform” by Novo Amor & Ed Tullett, directed by Sil Van Der Woerd Dir: Jorik Dozy
“True Love Waits” by Radiohead, directed by Adi Halfin
The 2018 LA Film Festival is happening through Friday, September 28. Catch more of our exclusive coverage on our blog and YouTube channel and be sure to keep up with the Festival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. To learn more about how to become a Member of Film Independent, click here.
Presenting Media Sponsor is Los Angeles Times. Official Host Venue is ArcLight Cinemas. Platinum Sponsors are American Airlines, EFILM | Deluxe, HBO and TikTok. The University Sponsor is Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television. Official Screening Partner is Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Festival Supporters are Directors Guild of America, eTech Rentals, Kona Productions, TREETI and Visit Seattle. Festival Affiliates are 21st Century Fox Global Inclusion, ATK Audiotek, Konsonant Music, SAGindie and Writers Guild of America West. Additional support provided by National Endowment for the Arts. Stella Artois is the Official Beer. IMDbPro is the Official Industry Resource. CITI is the Official Credit Card. The LINE, NoMad Los Angeles and Freehand LA are the Official Hotel Partner. Essentia Water is the Official Water. Hillersden Estate Wines is the Official Wine. Getty Images is the Official Photographer.
(Header: still from “My Way” by Noah Cyrus x One Bit)