PRINT September 2010


the Oberhausen Film Festival

MAN RAY ONCE SAID, “The worst films I’ve ever seen, the ones that send me to sleep, contain ten or fifteen marvelous minutes. The best films I’ve ever seen only contain ten or fifteen valid minutes.” A T-shirt for sale at the Fifty-sixth International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany, puts it even more succinctly, if less elegantly: “Fuck Feature Films.” The dominance of the feature-length form for film has lasted a hundred years and has determined (and been supported by) systems of distribution and funding and, perhaps even more crucially, has controlled cultural attitudes toward what films do, formally and structurally. Although there are exceptions, the ninety-minute to two-hour format reinforces film’s role as a narrative medium and its homology to the novel and the three-act drama as the major Western forms of long-format storytelling.

Although television has found niches

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