After a three-year absence, Block Cinema is thrilled to welcome the return of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation, a celebrated showcase for moving-image art at its most innovative and compelling this Friday, Nov. 4th and Saturday, Nov. 5th. With the Chicago Design Summit and Eyeworks Festival happening at the same time, Chicago art lovers are sure to have an unforgettable weekend filled with art, inspiration, and innovation.
The brainchild of filmmaker-programmers Lilli Carré and Alexander Stewart, Eyeworks gathers together a dazzling array of animated films, past and present, that push the boundaries of representation and the limits of form. Their selections reliably offer abstract astonishments, quizzical constructions, quiet microdramas, and outlandish conceits, making Eyeworks, in the words of Cinefile Chicago’s Josh B. Mabe, “essential viewing every year.”
This year’s festival presents two programs of short films on Saturday, November 5, as well as a solo showcase for Chicago-based filmmaker Laura Harrison on the preceding Friday evening. In-person: festival curators Alexander Stewart and Lilli Carré.
Eyeworks Festival in Chicago will feature animated films by Laura Harrison this year on Friday, Nov. 4th at 7 pm. Laura’s films are a lot like the characters in them: restless, scattered, always threatening to become unmoored from reality. They’re also indelible creations whose disordered colors, jagged edges, and cracked voices always communicate something recognizable and true.
Since moving from painting to animation a decade ago, Harrison has created a singular body of work, combining a fascination with imperfect femininity and boundless visual ingenuity. For this showcase, the Eyeworks and Block Cinema will welcome Harrison in person to screen and discuss her films, including award-winning shorts The Lingerie Show (2014), Little Red Giant, The Monster that I Was (2016), and The Limits of Vision (2022).
The first session of this year’s Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation starts at 12:30 pm on Saturday, Nov. 5th. The programming includes a great mix of old-school classic shorts and newer productions from emerging artists. A few that caught our attention are listed below:
- 489 Years, 2018 STARTS PRIZE honorable mention, an animated landscape of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, based on the narration of a former soldier who had entered the DMZ–one of the most dangerous and heavily armed places in the world.
- You Be Mother, a stop-frame animation that challenges the traditional orders of animate and inanimate, the fluid and the solid, winner of “Best Innovation Prize” at Atlanta Short Film Festival in 1993 and “Best Experimental Film” at Oberhausen Short Film Festival in 1991.
- Buzz Box, an experimental animated short about television five days a week directed by David Daniels, once recognized as “the wokest film you’ll ever seen.”
The second part of the program is tentatively set to begin at 3 pm and contains more contemporary pieces from professional filmmakers to current MFA students. Some fun titles to catch are
- Red House, an animation that playfully explores metamorphosis in relation to the stability and structure of housing
- Supermuseums, an adorable yet heart-wrenching animation short made with hand-drawn illustration by artist Yara Elfouly
- The Exhausted, created by Korean Film Council member Justin Jinsoo Kim, explores the concept of “exhausting the possible” within the time and space in stop-motion animation form.
The Block Museum is home to one of the region’s most innovative cinemas. Through its quarterly screening series “Block Cinema,” the museum explores the global past and present, showcasing film and other time-based media across genres, from classic to experimental. This free, in-house cinema is dedicated to providing Northwestern, the North Shore, and Chicago a quality venue for film and to highlighting the diversity of voices and practices in the media arts field.
Post-screening discussions with a filmmaker or scholar, are a staple of the program, providing a unique opportunity for audiences to gain valuable context about the works and offering unique insights into the creative process. In keeping with the Museum’s commitment to presenting art across time, culture, and media, media art is a staple of the Block Museum’s exhibition program.
The Block Cinema is always free and open to all.
Featured Image: Block Cinema