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by Daniel Spada
June 5th, 2014

One of the most excitingly original shorts programs Rooftop has to offer this season, Trapped in the Machine is all about range – from the strange and mildly disturbing to the heartfelt and affecting, this bill has a little bit of everything for the adventurous viewer. With every form of filmmaking – live action, animation, a mix of the two, and music videos - covered, as well as genre – comedy, drama, a mix of the two, in additional to experimental – there is nary a dull moment in these shorts, even in the build ups.

While some fire all cylinders throughout, others are more akin to a seismic wave that engage with delicately scripted stories and characters. Trapped in the Machine marks the New York premieres of Ben Berman’s I’m A Mitzvah (which stars Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz in a delicately understated performance), Daniel Moshel’s crazy fun MeTube: August sings Carmen Habanera, and Patrik Eklund’s Sundance hit Syndromeda, as well as Josh Chertoff and Steve Girard’s absolutely insane viral craze Wawd Ahp.

Rounding out the shorter entries in this program are the music video for Kids and Explosions’ Swear Words (off his 2010 album Shit Computer) – which assaults the viewer with a surplus of curse words sampled from various rap songs overlaid with their respective visual representations, all the while Iron and Wine’s cover of “Such Great Heights” delicately plays in the background – and David Lewandowski’s companion piece to Going to the Store (which has a hilarious “Kids Read to Viral Videos” response viewable here), Late for Meeting – in which everybody’s favorite rubbery man flails around LA to the tune of Jean-Jacques Perrey’s “The Mexican Cactus”. Another addition to the mid-length shorts of this catalogue is Tom Rosenberg’s gloriously absurd but unshakeable Rehearsal, which stages a simulated terrorist attack and the process of doing so with hundreds of volunteers waiting to authentically fall to their deaths, resulting in a powerful portrait of constructed terrorism.

Pre-show entertainment is slated to begin around 8:30PM, as Bird Courage takes the stage for their return to the Rooftop Films Summer Series. An after party sponsored by New Amsterdam Spirits and Bulleit Bourbon will commence at 11:30PM and last until roughly 1AM. You can view the complete program below.

WAWD AHP (Steven Girard, Josh Chertoff | 3 min.)
A man raps in the mirror, cuts off his head, and has sex with it. There is also a cartoon.

METUBE: AUGUST SINGS CARMEN HABANERA (Daniel Moshel | 4 min.)
George Bizet`s “Habanera” from Carmen has been reinterpreted and enhanced with electronic sounds for MeTube, a homage to thousands of ambitious YouTube users and video bloggers, and gifted and less gifted self-promoters on the Internet.

SYNDROMEDA (Patrik Eklund | 21 min.)
Leif wakes up on the road—naked and bloody—with no memory of what has happened. No one believes him when he claims he was abducted by aliens.

LATE FOR MEETING (David Lewandowski | 2 min.)
Late for Meeting is the first companion piece to the 2011 short film entitled Going to the Store. A rubbery man makes his way through Los Angeles by any means necessary.

THE RUNAWAY (LA FUGUE) (Jean-Bernard Marlin | 22 min.)
A rehabilitated teenage girl stands before a judge for sentencing. Still, she fears the system is stacked against her. Winner of best short at the Berlin Film Festival.

KIDS AND EXPLOSIONS – SWEAR WORDS (Thomas Vernay, Yann Wallaert | 3 min.)
Inspired by GIF, this video clip is about the clichés of American antagonisms: Christian thought, homeland love and excesses of the USA.

REHEARSAL (Tom Rosenberg | 12 min.)
A surreal study of a simulated terrorist attack in middle America. Composed frames observe the meticulous care taken to create a hyperreal terrorist event. Once the bomb goes off, hundreds of volunteers deliver a convincing performance as stunned and mutilated blast victims.

I’M A MITZVAH (Ben Berman | 18 min.)
A young American man spends one last night with his deceased friend while stranded in rural Mexico.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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