31 March 2010

Fuzzy Insides by Olsen, 2009

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 9:32 am

On Monday night I attended the local installation of the Black Maria Film Festival. Now in its 29th year, this free traveling festival brings its jury-selected collection of  short films to universities and galleries around the country. For each showing, founder and director John Columbus assembles a particular set of films from among the 50 titles included in the Festival’s portfolio for the year. Columbus travels with the films, introducing and discussing them with the audience.

I wrote a bit about last year’s festival here. My favorite movie from this year’s offerings is Fuzzy Insides by Michaela Olsen, currently of Brooklyn. Here’s the program’s description of the movie:

A model animation has vaguely voyeuristic scenes which peek into the secret nightlife of the suburbs. Four stop-motion vignettes portray awkward relationships that fitfully develop romantically and sexually as realized by the deft creativity of the filmmaker.

It’s 5 minutes 20 seconds long.

UPDATE: It looks like Michaela has now password-protected the video. I had previously commented on her blog that I liked her film and had posted it here, agreeing to delink it if that was her preference. She never replied to the comment. I guess I’ll go back to her blog and let her know that I noticed…



  1. That is really awesome. We watched it twice. The tension is almost unbearable and she’s wonderfully expressive about the vulnerability, ambivalence, awkwardness and tenderness of intimacy.

    Also liked this one at her website for its manic snark. Not surprised that she studied in Prague, she’s got a touch of Svankmajer to her; the take on reproduction recalls “Little Otik.”


    Comment by Carl — 2 April 2010 @ 9:49 am

  2. I’ve not seen Little Otik, but I can see the Svankmajer connection on the film you linked to. In Fuzzy Insides, the first couple watching TV recalled the scene with the rabbits in Lynch’s Inland Empire. Then it goes onto an entirely different trajectory.


    Comment by john doyle — 2 April 2010 @ 9:27 pm

  3. What happened to the video? I was just getting ready to watch it and looking forward to it!


    Comment by Kim Dot Dammit — 5 April 2010 @ 11:15 am

  4. It’s there when I play it. Maybe it’s a glitch with Vimeo or your browser. Try again later?


    Comment by john doyle — 5 April 2010 @ 11:58 am

  5. Thank you so much for all of the comments! I recently put the video back online so that I could get feedback just like this! I took it off of Vimeo for a while because some festivals care whether or not films are available online, but lately I’ve been realizing that the internet provides a lot of exposure and potential for thought-provoking criticism that I would like to hear. Interestingly enough, I had to take it back down again because it will most likely be featured on a site this spring, and for legal issues it can’t be in all those places at once. It will be back online this summer, though. In the meantime, feel free to email me at molsen@g.risd.edu to see the film or chat.

    Here is a trailer for Fuzzy Insides on my website: http://michaelaolsen.com/Fuzzy_Insides_Trailer.html

    I thought I might also mention that Svankmajer was definitely a staple in the art/film school curriculum. “Lunacy” was one of the very first films they showed us at RISD. I actually bought one of his prints when I was in Prague… it’s my pride and joy!


    Comment by Michaela Olsen — 13 April 2010 @ 11:33 pm

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Michaela, and for your email offer.

    As I mentioned on your blog, I think it’s unfortunate that the festivals and so on restrict distribution of films that have a hard enough time getting noticed. The festival here in Boulder is probably similar to many others. I don’t think the winners receive any prize money, but every year the festival brings in some “very special guest” for fairly big bucks that’s presumably going to draw an audience. But I mean, do they really think the locals would rather listen to Chevy Chase prattle on for 20 minutes than see the movies? Then again, maybe they would. I think the annual celeb is a perk for the festival director, who actually gets a full-time (though probably modest) salary from entrance/admission fees and paid advertisements.

    But back to your film. The characters you created are visually compelling: sort of endearingly grotesque and vulnerable in their fuzziness. I like the premise of the 4-sided house spinning as a way of organizing the 4 stories. Overall the film presents a nice homage to polyvalent sexuality. And as Carl observed, it actually creates tension, even though each couple gets barely more than a minute of screen time.

    You mention art school and the Rhode Island School of Design. If you stop by again, maybe you can say a word about what that experience was like for you. RISD is affiliated with Brown somehow, isn’t it?


    Comment by john doyle — 14 April 2010 @ 7:40 am

  7. I had an awesome experience at RISD. I can’t speak for all the students, but I felt that there was a really good balance of freedom and guidance in the Film/Animation/Video department. My teachers were great. There was endless creative energy within the student body itself, too. I learned just as much from my friends as I did in class. It was very hard work, and extremely time-consuming, but if you’re doing what you love then it’s not a chore at all. I also took a lot of Illustration courses in my last few semesters that really influenced the direction of my work. This is my RISD thesis project, by the way.

    About half way through my attendance, they started offering a dual-degree program with RISD and Brown. You can also take classes at Brown even if you’re not part of that program, and vice-versa. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to do that, but I had a couple of Liberal Arts teachers who taught at Brown that were pretty good. Both schools are clumped together on College Hill in Providence, so it’s easy to experience what both schools have to offer if you want to.


    Comment by Michaela Olsen — 19 April 2010 @ 7:36 pm

  8. Thanks for the inside scoop on RISD, Michaela. Our daughter’s school counselor has encouraged her to look seriously at RISD/Brown, so I’ll pass your observations along.


    Comment by john doyle — 20 April 2010 @ 7:35 am

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