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Project Projection pulls together a program of adventurous local films

Thursday, January 23, Central Library, 7 p.m., free. Info

Image: Still from Andrea Oranday’s “Ueita.”

The Mills Folly Microcinema program launched in summer 2018 at Arts + Literature Laboratory, with the goal of showcasing experimental and ultra-low-budget films that otherwise rarely get screened in Madison. With its home venue currently in the middle of a move to a large new space on East Main Street, Mills Folly is making a temporary move to the Central Library’s third-floor screening room to showcase short works from Madison-area filmmakers. The first installment of the Project Projection series runs for about 70 minutes in total, and its offerings run the gamut from straightforward documentaries to disorienting experiments that involve dreaming dogs and nude badminton players.

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One clear standout in Thursday’s program is Andrea Oranday’s Ueita, a patient 10-minute exploration of food and memory. Oranday uses still images and a sparse but tightly manipulated sound mix to immerse us in scenes of family gatherings and pastoral landscapes. Many of the images show a family gathering in cluttered kitchens and around outdoor tables for festive meals, while the audio balances kitchen sounds (the click of a gas burner lighting, the rustle of utensils) with the occasional burst of music and lively conversation. The approach here evokes both the social power of food and the power of cooking as a solitary ritual. “I believe film captures memory and nostalgia exceptionally well,” Oranday writes in an artist statement for the screening. But Ueita goes well beyond that, offering a quiet but undeniably moving experience of loss.

Christian Cuévas’ documentary State Street is, well, very true to the kinds of random and at times uninvited interactions one can have while walking down State Street, though walking around with a camera tends to invite more of those interactions. Anders Nienstaedt’s A Long Winter At The World’s Center is an experimental and at times playful portrait of Marquette, Michigan, while Nicholas Wootton and Will Fry’s Grand Yoke dives right into dizzying collage-film territory. Several of the films at this screening were made by students of the Odyssey Filmmaking workshop, under the tutelage of filmmaker and UW-Madison film scholar Hamidreza Nassiri. There are some resourceful surprises in this batch of shorts. The two-minute Milan’s Video, by Milan Shrestha, may or may not be a horror film, building up an eerie layer of paranoia as its protagonist prepares a skillet of wide rice noodles. Mai Neng Thao’s The Mischief wrings a minute of fun from the simple premise of a home burglary. Lakoye Buford’s Note To A Younger Self is a work of brave vulnerability, reflecting on both childhood traumas and adult struggles. Any given viewer’s mileage will vary throughout this program, but it’s great to see Mills Folly providing a good platform for an adventurous mix of local films.

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