"Nutfeed," a hilarious 10-minute film by Verna Huiskamp, is the anchor for an evening of student films to be shown Saturday, June 8, under the banner, "University of Utah Film Show."
The films will be shown in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts auditorium on the U. campus; admission for the 90-minute program is $4.It is said that comedy should always include some pain, and so it is with Huiskamp's "Nutfeed." "We're not trying to be cruel here," a young dairy farmer says in the comic documentary, explaining an annual event in Burbank, S.D.: The castration of young bulls and the subsequent feast it provides. Indeed, at the dinner, many in attendance comment on the "delicacy" they are eating, though first-timers have to be persuaded.
As to whether it's cruel to the animals - Huiskamp makes no judgments. She does, however, show the castration, allowing viewers to make up their own minds. Though her approach is mostly deadpan, the sound of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing "Happy Trails" to open and close the film, along with a wry voice-over commentary, help provide comic punch.
Another documentary to be shown is Mel Halbach's "The Game," a more serious look at farming, focusing on the day-to-day hardships of dairy farming in freezing weather, news reports of government foreclosures and the frenzy of the stock market. All of this is intercut with quick-cut editing and overlapping sound, resulting in a chilling 13-minute cinema verite report on the crisis that is the farming industry today.
"Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife" is an 11-minute black-and-white comedy by Basil Katsan, based on a story by James Thurber. This over-the-top screwball yarn about a henpecked lawyer who dreams of running off with his stenographer, features broadly played stereotypes filmed as if they are in a '50s-style melodrama. In some ways it seems to be a spoof of the old TV series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
Ken Gumbert's "Ritual Ways" is a fascinating 10-minute documentary about the parallels between American Indian spiritual activities and the rituals of the Catholic Church, shown through those performed by a Ute medicine man, Bear Boy LaRose; and a priest, the filmmaker, Father Gumbert.
"Stationwagon" is a goofy 13-minute video spoof of the classic John Ford Western "Stagecoach," which was filmed in southern Utah and made a star of John Wayne. This version has a carload of nincompoops traveling through Salt Lake City in a post-apocalyptic future, "Blazing Saddles"-style.
A number of other short student films and videos, which were not available for preview - including another Verna Huiskamp film, "Jiggers," about rattlesnake skins - will also be shown. - Chris Hicks