The web video of 2012: contributors i-l

The year’s best new online movies, by 16 international correspondents.

Philip Ilson , :: kogonada , Kevin B. Lee

Web exclusive

Philip Ilson
London Short Film Festival

A year on from my complaint in this space about major film festivals’ premiere policies, we’re no closer to change, so my job still revolves around movies that aren’t viewable online. Of course, the web is pretty much the only place you’ll now see music videos…

I Fink U Freaky
Die Antwoord

I’d discovered the completely bonkers work of South African techno outfit Die Antwoord through a link I was sent, and all their video work has blown me away. I’ve been hoping to programme a retrospective, but so far it hasn’t worked out. I could’ve chosen any one of their works (including a Harmony Korine-directed short), but this black-and-white masterpiece by veteran South African photographer Roger Ballen [homepage] is as good as it gets.

The Legend of Kaspar Hauser trailer

Trailers are meant to sell films, and this does it for me. Except that it doesn’t really have any relation to the actual film itself. The film is based on the Kasper Hauser story, which Werner Herzog had also filmed in the 1970s, concerning a stranger turning up in a village.

In this new Italian version by Davide Manuli, it alludes to Hauser being an androgynous alien from outer space, who arrives in a remote village where there live two Vincent Gallos, one of whom is a techno DJ. The film itself goes from sheer brilliance to utter tediousness, sometimes within a scene, but there’s no denying this is an amazingly visual trailer, with a great soundtrack by French electro outfit Vitalic.

Ekki Múkk
Nick Abrahams

This artistic music video-cum-short film was made as part of Sigur Rós’s valtari mystery film experiment, whereby different filmmakers created short films to go with tracks on their Valturi release. This breathtaking mix of epic landscape and moving surrealism is directed by Abrahams, who’s had a long and varied career in music videos and made feature documentaries with Jeremy Deller.

Peter Millard

Peter Millard [homepage] is my new favourite animator. His was the standout work at last summer’s Royal College of Art graduation show, and the one that looks like it was knocked out in a stream-of-consciousness five minutes before the show by a five-year-old. But that’s its power, as this riot of colour and shape captivates and amazes; watching his work is actually a joyous and unique experience.

Web video creator

Naran Ja
Alejandro González Iñárritu

Iñárritu uses the lo-fi aesthetics of VHS, along with minimal special effects and deft editing, to create a mesmerising experimental dance film that would easily fit into an episode of the X-Files as found footage.

Aaron Burr, Part 2
Dana O’Keefe

Or the end of Ken Burns. It takes about 15 seconds to lose yourself in this retelling of a historical event. There are no talking head interviews from experts and historians, no zooms in and out of old photos. Instead we’re offered a first-person account. Boundaries of time and setting are transgressed to get to something deeper or more fluid. Watching this film put me in mind of Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

Taylan Sinan Yilmaz

Three minutes. 21 cuts. Two actors. One location. No dialogue. Short film as perfection.
Yung Jake

Don’t be afraid to hit the play button when you get to the starting page and then sit back and let the browser(s) do the rest. I’ve seen a number of ‘new media’ projects that are conceptually interesting but not nearly as engaging in their execution. is an entertaining music video as well as an astute commentary on our present moment (offered in both content and form).

the valtari mystery film experiment
Sigur Rós et al.

Usually a filmmaker creates a film and searches for a soundtrack. Here we have musicians creating music in search of filmtracks. The results are breathtaking.

Kevin B. Lee
Critic, US

Girl Walk // All Day
Jacob Krupnick

Jacob Krupnick’s feature-length video dance-a-thon through Manhattan started in in 2011 but wasn’t finished until the start of 2012, when Occupy Wall Street had crested. A democratic vision of rhapsodic bodies and celebratory streetscapes, it sustains the spirit of a movement in these movements.

Call Me Maybe (Chatroulette Version)

The top American pop song of the year lampooned by an unsettling, strangely celebratory prank, exploiting the mechanisms of a popular website where strangers randomly video chat with others.

The Mitt Romney ‘47 percent video’

A privileged glimpse into the world of privilege. Aside from its impact on a major election, it was perhaps the most compelling spy movie of the year, and certainly the most revealing (the viral sex video of a Chinese Communist party official notwithstanding).

First time skiing

Great as London 2012 was, these three minutes capture the transformative drama of sport more profoundly than any Olympic highlight. There are countless ‘first time’ achievement videos on the web, but the combination of first-person perspective, raw emotion and impeccable timing of stages make it uncannily perfect.

Skyrim Macho Dragon Mod

The wormhole world of open-source gaming platforms has set the stage for users to create their own alternative realities via modifications (‘mods’), with Skyrim ranking as one of the most popular arenas for user-generated weirdness. Some have gone so far as to create episodic dramas within gaming platforms (see Skyrim Cops), but my favourite is the mod that reincarnates Macho Man Randy Savage as a disco-loving dragon soaring through this absurd spectacle set ablaze with improbable cinematic wonder. Yeah!

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