It used to be that if you wanted to get inside a movie, you'd have to ring Marlon Brando's doorbell and then quickly hide in a sandwich on his doorstep. From there, it was a waiting game.
Technological improvements have led to a new kind of filmmaking far more interactive than mere cannibalism. That's where Indie Film Club Miami's Filmgate Interactive 2014, running from Thursday through Wednesday, comes in.
Diliana Alexander, who has directed the festival since it began in 2012, says that "this is the future of visual and interactive storytelling. We want to make sure that not only does Miami experience it but also starts to create it."
Filmgate includes interactive films, yes, but also dance, music and theater experiences. Take, for example, The Lost Children (9 p.m. on Jan 31 and Feb 1, $35). A plot summary is useless because the story will change -- in real time -- based on how the audience interacts with the film. What we do know is that there will be cocktails, a chance to join a cult, and full nudity. There will also be a Q&A after each version of the event so you can learn what the heck it was that you were just a part of.
This year's incarnation of Filmgate Interactive starts on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Miami Light Box Theater. Other interactive festivals would be content to have a cash bar and some turned tuna salad to interact with your stomach. Not Filmgate.
In addition to the cash bar and probably-safe-to-eat food, there will be performances, music and weird visuals. TRPL QUINCE is a performance by 45-year-old Octavio Campos, who will be hosting his triple quince party as a belated coming out. If this helps you imagine what might happen, know that the show's credits include a Hypnosis Advisor.
There will also be something called Three-Minute Space-Time Monkey Business Continuum by Amy von Harrington. We've never seen this, so we'll assume it's a nine-hour ballet adaptation of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Then there's Jacob Niedzwiecki's Ensemble, a "responsive, participatory media installation" that uses a smartphone app and "flocking algorithms" to alter the installation space as participants move through it and, possibly, steer their interactions. So basically Tinder but with better lighting.
That would be pretty good if those were just highlights from the whole festival. But those are all just pieces from the opening party, which will also include musical strange by Richard Haig's Panic Bomber, Maylee Todd, Jean Jacket and The Hongs. There's also going to be a DJ set by a person who called sans who interacts with capitalization rules in unexpected ways. Visuals by Jason Boogie, which are way better than Lewd Whispers by Mike Boogie.
Here, interact with our recommendation gland as we suggest some other stuff to check out at Filmgate.
Given that we don't pay our taxes, the only unavoidable things in our lives are death and snacks(es?). Join us, then, at Romantic Endings (7 p.m. on Feb 1, $45), a creation of Miami dance visionary Pioneer Winter in which 10 romantic death scenes from film history are paired with a food experience and a dance performance.
The Skype Show (Jan 31 at 6:30 p.m., Feb 1 at 3 p.m., $25) is a "transmedia musical" that combines technology, theater and romantic comedy into a performance that obliterates the fourth wall and whatever other walls you've got.
Given that their diet comprises maple syrup and Tim Horton's coffee, it shouldn't be surprising that no one in Canada has ever slept. This led the National Film Board of Canada to create A Journal of Insomnia (6 p.m. on Feb 1, $15), an ongoing web-based project in which thousands of insomniacs have been recording their delirious rambles since late 2012. At the performance, you'll interact with four real-life insomniacs around the world and record your own insomniac confessions. It will only be 6 p.m. but since most people in Miami seem to wake up at 9 p.m., attendance qualifies as insomnia.
You'll want to pop in at The Narrator is Suspect, (9 p.m. on Jan 31, $10) a performance by Minneapolis-based trio Mad King Thomas. They create funny, odd shows that look nothing like what is commonly thought of as dance. But it is dance, just dance that instead of being about gross old swans is about telephones, colonialism, the National Park System and animals that are way cuter than gross old swans.
It is often said that the world's oldest interactive profession is vaginal puppetry. And so while it would seem that everything vaginal puppetry has to say has been said before, not so. Don't believe us? Sit in on a panel with Borscht-ers and renowned vaginal puppeteers Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva as they present Post Modern Musicals, Vagina Puppetry and Fictional Corporations (3 p.m. on Feb 1, FREE!), which will show off some of their greatest hits and a glimpse at their latest and largest project yet. Don't worry, it's not a vagina puppet.
Want more? Jeez, you're hard to satisfy. No wonder no one has been interacting with you lately and you are going to spend the next week or so paying people to do it.
In that case, know that on Friday night at Bardot, there will be live music by Telekinetic Walrus & The Pride of Lions (NOTE: the band does not actually include any ions, proud or otherwise) and DJ sets by MILLIONYOUNG and Artime. On Saturday and Sunday, you can visit the Interactive Technology Playground at the Rubell Family Collection. Saturday night, Red Channels is playing at the Electric Pickle. We're not sure how that one is interactive but it probably means you are allowed to give the band noogies during guitar solos.
There's a three-day workshop with artist Philip Bloom will yield 24 short films shot in the Everglades by teams from around the world. It's sold out, but you could always dress in your best alligator costume and creep around the Everglades, eavesdropping on Bloom's wisdom.
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"We don't just have panels," Alexander says. "It's more of a creative conference than a festival with passive audiences. Something is going to come out of our Story Hack that will be funded and produced for next year."
What exactly? Well, the Story Hack will group teams of writers, coders, app developers and others to create interactive experiences. They might be films, smartphone apps or something else entirely that will interact with your brain by melting it. Filmgate Interactive is a jam-packed three days of genre-transcending performances that will nudge and fondle your senses at about a dozen venues around town.
Tickets and the full schedule are available at Film-Gate.org. Most events cost between $10 and $45. Also, Filmgate's mascot is Charlie, a giant pink kraken. So there's that.