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ALTERNATIVES

Movies meant to be toyed with

Fisher-Price cameras produce the films in the inventive PXL THIS fest.

November 17, 2005|Susan Carpenter

The way Gerry Fialka sees it, we've all been brainwashed into believing films are supposed to look pretty. That isn't always the case, especially when it comes to the PXL 2000 camera, a Fisher-Price toy that was discontinued in the late '80s after just two years on the market.

In the 16 years since, the little plastic device has developed a cult following for the same reason it failed -- its poor, pixilated picture quality. For almost all of those years, the toy's failings have been celebrated in the traveling PXL THIS film festival, which will feature 34 PXL 2000 shorts Saturday at the Sponto Gallery in Venice.

"The fact that it's originally intended for children, it sort of merges with what all artists aspire to, and that is to have the naivete of a child," said Fialka, who created the fest in 1991.

Made by pros and amateurs, who range in age from about 20 to 50, the grainy, black-and-white films in this year's festival run the gamut from documentaries and dramas to comedies and experimental films, exploring such diverse themes as sock monkeys, Abu Ghraib and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

"Like any art form, it's just a reflection of where people's heads are at. It's always changing," Fialka said.

"In a lot of ways, I've created a film festival that's not a film festival," he added. "It's a genuine fake festival."

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-- Susan Carpenter

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PXL THIS 15, Sponto Gallery, 7 Dudley Ave., Venice. 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday. Free. (310) 306-7330, www.indiespace.com/pxlthis

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