37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL Oct 30-Nov 3, 2024

37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL October 30-November 3, 2024

DWELLING: Experimental Short Essay Films


There is a vein of haunted history running through each of these intensely experimental films, allowing them to serve as essays exploring how places, spaces, and specific geographies can be defined by their pasts and the past lives that have been spent within them. From the ruins of a vacation paradise development in Florida, to a never-lived-in city for two-million in China, these shorts take us on a thematic arc that also includes the ghosts of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as a city of 80,000 cremated remains nestled in the heart of San Francisco.


28ft Deep

2013. USA. 23 min. Director: Mandy Giampaolo

A student filmmaker returns to her hometown on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to examine the personal and subjective spaces that surround America’s greatest natural catastrophe, Hurricane Katrina. Experimentations with Super 8 and 16mm film, as well as digital footage, create a pulsating filmic language of memory and meaning that exposes truth as something non-discrete, but subjective and personal.


The Blocks

2014. USA. 10 min. Director: Lydia Moyer

The Blocks focuses on what would have been the Golden Gate Estates, an unrealized development in Florida’s Big Cypress Swamp whose planners were eventually convicted of fraud. Functioning in some ways as an allegory for the recent economic crash, The Blocks examines the connection between real estate and longing.



2013. China/Germany. 10 min. Director: Konrad Kästner

The city of Ordos, in the middle of China, was build for two milion people yet remains completely empty. Ordos is not so much a place but a symbol of babylonic hype. But nothing will change – as long as people believe.


The Columbarium

2014. USA. 4 min. Director: Tyler Trumbo

Do you have to be alive to be considered part of a neighborhood? Not for those who reside at the San Francisco Columbarium, home to over 80,000 cremated remains and one of the few remaining sites within the city limits to rest in peace. This short black and white film explores the very concept of death through the eyes of its long-time caretaker, Emmitt Watson, and how we can still be a part of a community even after we go.


Death Songs & Car Bombs

2014. Bali/Indonesia/USA. 7 min. Director: Brendan & Jeremy Smyth

Shot on a 16mm Bolex- edited entirely in-camera. Guided by a ceremonial death song, an attempt to reach the unholy sea transforms into a chaotic place study of Bali’s infamous tourism district- car-bombed one year after 9/11. Osama bin Laden declared the attack to be a direct response to the United States’ War on Terror. Now, a dimly-lit memorial stands amidst a sea of Western signage, and by fate, an identical Mitsubishi L300 passes ground zero as the roll flares out.


Field Notes

2014. Trinidad and Tobago/USA. 18 min. Director: Vashti Harrison

Field Notes is an experimental documentary about the ghosts embedded in the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. The film is structured as a visual and aural field guide to the ghosts spirits and jumbies througout the island, from personal tales about the soucouyant and lagahoo, to the ghosts of Trinidad’s history.



Saturday, November 8


3:45 PM


Downtown Mall : Regal 4

Film Info

Runtime: 72 min.

Genre: Shorts