Kevin Obsatz and friends take on the road movie

This week, artists explore the road movie at Bryant-Lake Bowl with two evenings of film, video, and performance centered on Crazy Horse, a short film by Kevin Obsatz. Along with the 12-minute piece, Obsatz has invited artists from the Twin Cities community to show work examining the idea of distance and places in between. 

The film, which was funded by a grant from the Jerome Foundation, is a fictional piece based on a story told to Obsatz by a friend who took a road trip across South Dakota with his friend's son. 

For the film, the story has been changed to a father and daughter, played by Julian McFaul and Yusbith Murillo. In it, Obsatz explores their relationship while traveling across South Dakota to see the various monuments that populate the landscape. Though not an explicit analogy, there are certain references to the Cold War. Some are subtle, such as how the two characters fail to communicate, while others are more direct, like when they visit a Minutemen Missile site that has become a tourist attraction. 

In the film, the father is portrayed as kind of a loser. He has some sort of falling apart credit card that never works when he tries to use it at various tourist shops. The daughter, dressed in an oversized sweatshirt and hat, not only always seems bored and miserable, but also hunches over as if she's uncomfortable in her own skin. Their journey reaches a boiling point when they run out of gas, and the daughter erupts over her father's incompetence. 

The title of the film references the two characters' visit to the unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial, the controversial monument that has been in progress since 1948. With projected dimensions of the sculpture being 641 feet wide and 563 feet deep (and Crazy Horse's head being nearly 30 feet higher than the heads of Mount Rushmore), it's one of the most ambitious sculptural projects in American history, with no clear end to the process, which is far from completed. 

Obsatz says that he's not addressing American Indian history directly. For him, the film is talking about the American patriarchy, "which is kind of the role of the father," he says. "[I'm] putting this character in a role of not directly the oppressor, but examining what he represents for his daughter and how that references these events in American history." 

Shot in black and white with a 16mm camera, the footage was hand-developed because "it gives the film a very archeological, artifact feel," Obsatz says. "It's all scratched and smudgy. It's inconsistent in a very nice way, so you can see the grain of the film." Obsatz wanted to hand-process the film as a way of making the time period otherworldly. Though there are cars and cell phones in the piece, "you can't really tell when it happens," he says. "They're not the type of images we are used to seeing in the modern world." 

Adding to the old-timey feel is the fact that the film is silent, with accompanying music by the Poor Nobodys, who play piano, cello, bass, and percussion. 

Complementing Obsatz's films will be other films, as well as performances by  local artists. The other presentations include a film by Heidi Eckwall, which also takes place in South Dakota, as well as short animations by several local animators made in collaboration with sound artist Mike Hallenbeck. Dance company Mad King Thomas will be showing a video about their road trip across the country, while Charles Campbell, Megan Mayer, and others will be presenting pieces as well.



Doors at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday

Bryant-Lake Bowl