Sydney, Sydney Fringe Festival 2014

Super 8 Dreams, SFF 2014

0 Comments 29 September 2014

Super 8 Dreams is an immersive exhibition of short films by award-winning local filmmaker, Tony Lawrence. The exhibition at Newtown’s 5 Eliza Gallery  also incorporates local artworks by Kelvin Atmadibrada, and two short film installations. Lawrence creates incredible works from his own vast collection of 8mm, 9.5mm and 16mm films and combining stock footage. Once restored, soundtracks are layered on top of these snippets of footage, creating haunting pieces of film.

Several themes are explored in these fascinating films: time, lust, death, travel and the nature of reality. Often the films are eerie and surreal, bringing you in and out of the present. The stock footage and editing effects of slow motion, inversion and the organic after-effects of restoring highly damaged film lend a unique tonal quality to the footage, plunging the viewer into a dreamlike past.

Two stand-out pieces were Aloha Hawaii and Henry Weston Smith. Aloha Hawaii is culled from 16 reels of 8mm technicolour home movies that were filmed in Hawaii during the 1960s. Initially, the film is alluring and tropical, the crooning soundtrack typical of the time period. But as the film progresses, Lawrence utilises slow motion and a darker soundtrack (created with antique synthesizers) to create an atmosphere which can only be described as a geriatric LSD trip.

Henry Weston Smith is similarly jarring, and centres around three people on a road trip through Mount Rushmore National Park, to visit the grave of famed preacher Henry Weston Smith. This morbid journey is made bizarre by the decayed film, the appearance of a Native American man in traditional headdress, and the jumping focus from bleak roadside landscapes and pine forests, to the laughing travellers. It also features a stunning shot of Mount Rushmore, bathed in a pink light as a result of the damaged film.

Lawrence is a master of his craft, and the films are sewn together seamlessly, often juxtaposing the soundtrack and subject content of the footage. Super 8 Dreams is an incredibly insightful installation, and watching these short films is witnessing an expert at work.


Reviewed by Hattie O’Donnell

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This post was written by who has written 4 posts on Buzzcuts.

Hattie O’Donnell is a Communications/Law student at UTS. She is a current editor of the UTS student magazine, Vertigo. Hattie has to jam her bedroom door shut with a piece of cardboard because she is too lazy to buy an actual working door stop (approx. cost $5), and it’s too awkward to ask her elderly Italian landlord to fix it. She prefers to just ignore the problem and get on with her three main loves: Amy Poelher, cheese, and dancing a little too enthusiastically in public.

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