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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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What is a Maverick?

In the moments before the press conference kicked off on Saturday, Jens Hussey spoke a little about the term 'maverick'. He explained that the word originated from a Texas cattleman named Sam Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle, preferring instead to let them roam free, not 'following the herd'. This is the main principle of the Cinequest Film Festival, to embrace the maverick filmmaker, to promote new innovations and artistry in film and to present the visions of filmmakers who choose not to follow the herd.

With this in mind, I would like to write about two films which have garnered polar opposite reactions, John Jeffcoat's Outsourced and Steve Staso's Celluloid #1, and argue why I believe that Celluloid #1 deserves to be in the festival, and why Outsourced does not.

Trust me, my opinion on this matter has gotten me into a whole heap of trouble, and don't get me wrong, Outsourced is a nice movie, well crafted and extremely crowd pleasing. However, in the maverick spirit of originality, I found it hollow and lacking. The clichés were flying thick and fast, reinforcing every tired old stereotype and allowing a comfortable audience in a comfortable theater an opportunity to laugh at the funny ways of Johnny Foreigner. Of course, our everyman hero learns to accept this new culture even though, despite his 'awakening', he still seems mighty pleased to rush back to Seattle. I sat in a packed theater, with an audience roaring with laughter every time someone got the runs from eating the food, and laughed once. The rest of the time I spent counting the minutes until the next, predictable, plot point.

Does this make Outsourced a bad movie? Hell, no. It is a pleasant, colorful, non-threatening romantic-comedy, and is about as maverick as a sheep – forget the cows.

Then I watched Celluloid #1, during which a good third of the audience walked out after twenty minutes. From the screeching opening to the grating camera work, this film is hard work, and it is meant to be. Staso allows the 16MM film to run out during scenes, switching formats and challenging the audience to accept what they are seeing; he refuses to follow a conventional narrative and throws images at us like barbed-wire snowballs. Of all the self-reflexive movies I have ever seen, this is the first where the DoP puts the camera down and makes out with the lead actress in frame. Julie Atlas Muz is luminous as a fragile ball-breaker, and Steve Buckley looks like he has just stepped out of one of Jim Jarmusch's nightmares. The film is intense, not audience friendly and different. And that's what makes it maverick.

For every ten Outsourced's, there is maybe one Celluloid #1, and although conventional audiences may breathe a sigh of relief, I welcome the work of artists like Staso like a breath of deliciously ripe air.

This is what gets me in trouble.

Neil Baker

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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