Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rose City Steampunk Film Festival

My first steampunk festival was very entertaining. It was a spectacular way to spend a Sunday. There were a lot of interesting goings-on:

  • A ton of short films
  • Two feature films
  • A Q&A with film people
  • A panel of steampunk authors

I loved it. The first Rose City Steampunk Film Festival was great. What a success.

I noticed people were in costumes and both Q&A sessions talked about the steampunk aesthetic.

I've never personally done steampunk fashion or Neo-Victorian, as you might call it.

The "steampunk" aesthetic is one I feel a bit ambivalent about. On the one hand, it looks suave and elegant. On the other hand, when you see it all the time, it becomes a cliché.

In my opinion, the steampunk look is best when it appears uncontrived, functional, and reserved. The goggles are a bit much. Although I suppose part of its appeal is its extravagance.

Ultimately, the concept of Neo-Victorianism is very interesting. Furthermore, steampunk style is an ultra-retro, hip way to dress.

Despite not dressing up in the steampunk style,
And hence feeling like I didn't go the whole mile.
Still I enjoyed for quite a while,
A lot of works of film in Neo-Victorian style.

Due to some technical difficulties (burning to DVD), some short films were not shown.

At least two of the ones not shown, however, are available to watch online (The Forgotten Invention of Love is great).

Luckily there will be another screening for the ones that weren't shown on the day of the festival.

Now, here's what I saw and my reactions. They are all recommended.

Child Invisible

One of the best of show. In fact it swept the award ceremony, including best of show. It was emotionally impacting and very well done.
This is action packed dieselpunk. Cassie Meder, who is in this series, was at the fest for Q&A. She wasn't in the first episode, but she still contributed a lot to the discussion! And about this series, when I say "action packed," I'm serious.

I thought some of the cinematics were interesting, but I got bored during this one. Old black & white movies are always paced kind of lackadaisically. Perhaps an acquired taste; if you have a taste for it, you might enjoy this classic film showcasing steampunk before it was steampunk.

It's unfortunate this wasn't able to be shown at the festival. You can see it on the filmmaker's website. It is very, very good. This was probably my favorite so it was a bummer they couldn't show it at the festival. However, now I recommend you go watch this! It's art.

This was a trip. I enjoyed it and thought it was one of the most creative of the bunch. Abstract and varied in its narrative medium.

“Heart of Stone” music video by The Raveonettes

It was quick but pleasant and steampunk enough for me. Not very memorable.

The League of S.T.E.A.M. omnibus of shorts by

This was fun core genre steampunk at its best. It shows off the aesthetic and it's well produced. We were left with a cliff-hanger. It's an ongoing web series like The Danger Element.
Two minutes of musical and visual steampunk enjoyment. This is well done. Hearing the artist talk during the Q&A, I was amazed to learn how much work went into it.

Nickel Children

A steampunk story about kids who are kept caged to fight each other. One kid gets saved. There was a warning to the audience about its explicit material. It was kind of horrifying. It says it might become a web series, and it looks to have won a few awards.
The volume level of the dialogue was a bit low, so that made it a bit hard to hear. I'm a sub-titles guy too so...yeah. Still, this one was fun. Light saber fight for the win!
About 6 minute long animated short. This is very entertaining, historical, and fantastically steampunky in the way that I like. Time-traveling Victorian shenanigans featuring Thomas Edison as an unlikely villain with a mech.


The finale of the night absolutely blew me away. It wasn't written in on the schedule, it was supposed to be a surprise. And it was indeed a surprise! Such a stunning, magnificent film. Glad I saw it.

The author discussion was really very interesting.  Steampunk authors talking about steampunk. As you might expect.


They all seem like excellent, intriguing authors.

The authors appear to like the steampunk genre for plenty of different reasons. Nostalgia. The aesthetic. An interesting time in history. However, their works also have elements of historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. They don't want to see steampunk "sell out", but they acknowledge that it's a cool aesthetic.

I kind of wanted to buy some books (or ask for review copies) after the Q&A, but the festival moved quickly onto the next block of short films. And after that, it was dinner time. Afterwards, the authors were off in a puff of steam. A puff of steam.

Seriously though, it was fun to see the faces of some authors I had heard of, and some I hadn't, and generated a lot of interest in reading their books to me.

Overall, the festival was simply stupendous. I had a great time. Unfortunately it's kind of one of those "you had to be there" things. Notwithstanding, I recommend you look for some of these films (McDonough, Danger Element, and Forgotten Invention of Love are all available to watch online) or check out the authors if you are interested. Lots of great work.

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