Jerry White Jr. • Festival Director & Senior Programmer
Jerry founded the Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival to promote unconventional storytelling and bring eclectic, unorthodox, and progressive artists together. As an director, actor, and producer, Jerry has screened films at over a hundred film festivals worldwide, winning numerous awards and securing international distribution for 20 Years of Madness, a film more than two decades in the making. He earned his M.F.A. in Film & Television Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and B.A. in German Language and Literature from Oakland University. Since 2015, he’s programmed for festivals such as Slamdance and FilmQuest, and has served as a juror for FilmQuest and the Oak Cliff Film Festival, among others. In addition to his festival work, Jerry continues to develop his own short and long-form film, music, and zine projects. www.vidlingsandtapeheads.com • www.jerrywhitejr.com • www.30mom.com
A Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: La cité des Enfants Perdus (City of Lost Children) (1995) Directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Let’s see…a simple circus strongman, mind-control drug-delivering fleas, human clones, an elderly scientist who can not dream so he kidnaps children to steal their’s, a cyborg cult, an evil Fagan-esque conjoined twin, a talking brain in a jar, and a clever child thief who teams up with the strongman to find his kidnapped adopted brother. This is off the top of my head having not seen this film in years, so I know there’s a lot more to City of Lost Children. It’s as though Jeunet & Caro decided to fill this film with every passionately-scribbled café napkin idea they had left and, upon finishing, realized they had nothing more to say together (they had been collaborators for years and made the excellent Delicatessen together, but this is their last co-directed project). There is so much world-building, character, and story in this film—so many cinematic tricks and tools used to tell their story (incredible set-design, props, prosthetics, cinematography, early-CGI that surprisingly holds up, vaudeville-like physical performances, and costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier) and yet it still manages to be have relatable characters that you care and root for. Makes me think there should be more co-directed films, though maybe all the push and pull and stress destroyed Jeunet & Caro’s working relationship (or just wrung every last drop from it). Who knows, but if that was the case I have to thank them for the sacrifice—I think this film was worth it.
Seraphine Collective • Music Curator
Since 2013, Seraphine Collective has grown and changed dramatically. The collective now includes many who work tirelessly to advance a supportive and collaborative community of feminist musicians and artists in Detroit. We do this in part by providing opportunities for individuals to connect through music appreciation and expression. We regularly curate shows, festivals, and workshops that feature local and touring musicians, and we continue to feature emerging and established musicians on seraphinecollective.org and social media outlets. The ultimate goal of the Collective is to open a space in the city of Detroit where the diverse community of women, femmes, queer, transgender, and POC adult and youth artists, patrons, and residents can support and foster visibility of this community in a music scene dominated by patriarchal and institutionally racist cultural norms.
Inspired by feminist ethos, our collective aims to be accessible to those who may typically feel excluded from or underrepresented in Detroit’s independent music scenes, and encourages the honest expression of both feminist unity and differences. www.seraphinecollective.org • www.facebook.com/seraphinecollective
Alana Carlson • Project Coordinator
Alana is a bunny rabbit that’s been hanging around the periphery of the Vidlings & Tapeheads crew for a number of years. She adores vegetables, grains and fruits and has recently expanded her diet to include “cat food” (fish). She keeps her warren tidy and her hair long. Her Bachelor of Fine Arts (2003, Concentration: Painting) hails from Kendall College of Art & Design, which is a good school if you’re into that kind of thing.
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: True Stories (1986) Directed by David Byrne
David Byrne acts as host/narrator to an interwoven series of tales inspired by tabloid headlines and set in fictional Virgil, Texas as they prepare for their “Celebration of Special-Ness.” Combining musical, art and comedy genres, this film is full of oddly delivered asides from Byrne, as well as quirky, out-there, yet somehow still relatable dialogue from the rest of the cast (including Spalding Gray, John Goodman, and Swoosie Kurtz). Plus, it’s got a great soundtrack!
Andy Menko • Media Coordinator
Andy spends his days editing videos and writing computer programs. He graduated from The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan in 2005 and co-founded the Metro Shorts Film Festival that same year. In his spare time, Andy enjoys playing classic and modern video games, watching movies, and spending time with his wife and three kids.
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: Pi (1998) Directed by Darren Aronofsky
“Pi” was unlike anything I’d seen when it came out. Low-budget, but it didn’t feel like it. Gritty black and white without it coming off like a gimmick. And a great soundtrack! Bold framing choices and extreme angles centering around the main character force you to follow his descent into madness and self-discovery.
Emily Vastbinder • Art Coordinator
Emily G. Vastbinder is primarily a painter but often explores other media. In her recent work, the traditions of both landscape and still life painting are in contrast with the unconventional elements she includes in each piece. She graduated Ferndale High School a National Honors Society member and was awarded a CCS AOE Scholarship. She received her BFA from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. She currently lives and works in Metro Detroit.
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: Nowhere (1997) Directed by Gregg Araki
Unconventional? This flick makes it a point to flout convention! This is one of the films from Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy, and my favorite of the three. A group of teens in L.A. just want simple things: uncomplicated romance, intimacy (however awkward and isolating), fun, to get to a party … oh and survive increasingly violent and uncertain futures. This film turns a famous teen heart throb into a sadistic predator. There’s a gang of misfits wreaking havoc in the area, a TV evangelist brainwashing folks, and there might be a space lizard vaporizing random people. Will these teens survive to see another day, or even get to that party?? An amazing all star cast with lots of surprising cameo appearance. It’s an intense/silly/dark film, comedy, horror, sci-fi, drama all mixed together. Beautiful visuals, striking set design, and an amazing soundtrack. Definitely an old favorite!
Diana Chao • Senior Programmer
Diana is a Taiwanese filmmaker, who earned her BA in English Literature & Linguistics from National Chengchi University (2007, Taipei TW) & MFA in Film Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (2013, Los Angeles USA) by concentrating in writing & directing. In 2012, she directed to promote an US-China collaboration feature FINDING MR. RIGHT in NYC. In 2014, she worked with the KUNGFU PANDA III team as interpreter at Dreamworks. Dedicated to independent filmmaking, she joined the team of the Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival since its founding in 2017 where she is now a senior programmer.
THE RESTORATION (2015) as her thesis, premiered at Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and many film festivals overseas, was awarded “Merit for Cinematography” at Rochester International Short Film Festival (NY, US) and “Best Original Score” at Long Island Film Expo. Her following work MATCH (2017) is a Brazil-US collaboration short that won Best Romantic Short Film at Near Nazareth Film Festival and Best International Short at Festival Angaelica.
Her latest short BIG LITTLE MAN (2019) that received the Taiwan Ministry of Culture’s grant for short films and Taiwan United Fund had its world premiered at Rhode Island International Film Festival and special screenings at Golden Harvest Award’s grant recipient category. www.dianachaos.com
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: 3-Iron (2004) Directed by Kim Ki-duk
A young drifter and a girl he rescued in his journey wander from one and another empty houses to fill them with love and life. Compared to the silent couple—not a single word is exchanged between the two of them throughout the whole film—everyone else around them is loud, argumentative and talkative without much meaning expressed. It’s an absolutely cinematic and poetic piece that explores the relationship between silence and voice, home and dwelling, and more importantly, between emptiness and existence. Oh, by the way, this amazing film was shot in thirteen days.
Nicole Diroff • Programmer
Nicole Diroff is a recent graduate of Oakland University where she majored in Cinema Studies and Philosophy. While she enjoys writing and making her own films, she is particularly passionate about film criticism and history. This is Nicole’s third year at VTFF, and she’s looking forward to another year of unconventional madness.
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: Postava k podpírání (1963) Directed by Pavel Juráček, Jan Schmidt
Taking place in 1963 Prague, Jan Herold searches for an old friend of his when he finds a cat rental store. He decides to rent one for a day, but is shocked to discover the store no longer exists upon his attempted return of the cat. Now tasked with finding his friend and somewhere to return the cat, Kafkaesque scenarios befall in this hidden gem of the Czech New Wave.
Summre Garber • Senior Programmer
Summre Garber is a producer and programmer of films. Besides producing four short films and directing one about a podcast that helps put people to sleep, Summre was the Director of Operations at Slamdance for four years until 2013 when she became the Co-Captain of the Documentary Programming Committee and has maintained that role ever since. She has also been a Senior Programmer for the Bentonville Film Festival for the last two years, in addition to screening and consulting for a number of other festivals, including AFI and IFFLA. She is happy to let anyone know who asks that in 2017 she watched over 500 film festival submissions. Summre received an MA in Film Theory from San Francisco State University.
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: The Wolfpack (2015) Directed by Crystal Moselle
Six brothers spend their entire lives in a small Lower East Side apartment, learning everything they know about the world through movies. Their passion for film motivates them to shoot recreations of their favorite scenes with exquisite detail to acting, shooting, art design and costumes. A viewer may often not be able to distinguish one brother from another, but it ultimately doesn’t make a difference. This story never gets bogged down by the details and facts. None of that matters in the search for a more “ecstatic truth” (as Herzog would say), in this case that the power of film and art can be a savior for many, despite the conditions they come from, and a true catalyst for change in the world.
Diane Hodson • Senior Programmer
Diane is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and educator. Her work has screened at festivals around the globe, including SXSW, Hamptons International, and DokuFest. She was recently a contributing producer on the hit podcast, Missing Richard Simmons, and teaches filmmaking and storytelling at New York University and the Jacob Burns Film Center. www.dianehodson.net
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: The Dazzling Light of Sunset (2016) Directed by Salomé Jashi
Highlighting the absurd and the poetic through static wide shots and an eye for beautiful compositions, Salomé Jashi invites viewers into her native country of Georgia to question the very nature of what it means to film and be filmed.
Yu Jung Hou • Programmer
Born and raised in Taiwan, Yu Jung grew up a self-conscious girl who escaped into the world of novels and manga, giving her the perfect storytelling roots for her present-day career. During her three years at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Yu Jung developed a reputation as an editor/director. One of the films she worked on, Drone, was a Student Academy Award finalist in 2015, and her directorial debut FaFu also got the nod from multiple festivals including Best Shorts Competition Awards. In light of how much movies and shows have entertained as well as saved and transformed her, Yu is dedicated to create narratives that convey the world in a unique light that reveals itself once you give it a chance.
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: Mirror Mask (2005) Directed by Dave McKean
A lot of unconventional film came out before and after Mirror Mask that I probably love just as much, but Mirror Mask has always held a special place to me because it convinced me that everything I very greedily wanted to do for life could find its place in one movie. I hadn’t decided that I wanted to make films yet, nonetheless Mirror Mask definitely planted the seed, for better or worse. I loved music, photography, creepy-yet-stunning-and-interesting-(not trying to traumatize you) drawings/paintings, performance art, and story. Mirror Mask had it all. On top of that, I was about the same age as the main character when I first watched it, and I was just as confused, scared, angry, curious, self-centered, and eager to prove something. Being able to end a chapter with her made me feel, as weird as I was, that my future, like hers, would be ok.
Maegan Houang • Programmer
Maegan Houang is a writer/director based in Los Angeles. In 2018, she received a VSCO Voices Creator Grant to direct a short film she wrote entitled In Full Bloom starring Kieu Chinh (The Joy Luck Club). The film premiered online on Short of the Week and played at numerous film festivals including Fantastic Fest, Atlanta Film Festival, Oak Cliff, Hollyshorts, New Orleans, LAAPFF and Sidewalk Film Festival.
She recently finished working on Season Two of Counterpart (Starz/MRC) as a staff writer for which she wrote episode 207 “No Strings Attached” and co-wrote the series finale “Better Angels” with creator/showrunner Justin Marks. Maegan has also directed several acclaimed music videos for artists such as Mitski, Vagabon, Charly Bliss, Chastity Belt and Skylar Spence. Her work has been featured in Noisey, Fact Magazine, Stereogum, Pitchfork, Raindance Film Festival, Vimeo Staff Picks and Videostatic. www.maeganhouang.com
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: The Secret of NIMH (1982) Directed by Don Bluth
I constantly think about how the garden bush was designed with they first enter. Who doesn’t love Nicodemus and the power of the red pendant?
Jung-Ah Kim • Programmer
Jung-Ah Kim is a filmmaker and researcher from Seoul, South Korea currently based in Chicago. She playfully experiments with hybridizing mediums and distorting image and sound to often articulate the tension between “projection and authenticity” in today’s digital culture and urban life. Her films have been shown in various venues and festivals in both South Korea and the U.S. She received her MFA in Documentary Media from Northwestern University (2019) and has an MA in Aesthetics from Seoul National University (2016). Currently an organizer of Korean film screenings in Chicago, she is interested in alternative/experimental curatorial practice for moving images.
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: The Day He Arrives (2011) Directed by Hong Sang-soo
This is my favorite film by this director. Without any distinct story to grasp, the film follows a male character wandering a village in Seoul, shows him interact with people and how they all live, talk, drink, and pass their days. The days repeat and evolve, running into situations that are always the same yet always different. Somehow you find yourself in the middle of a plot where nothing is remarkable and yet everything’s remarkable. The movie is a maze that terrifyingly resembles your life! I’m just so impressed as to how ordinary the movie seems yet it evokes so many philosophical themes in your mind. One of my favorite movies of all time.
Geoff Marschall • Senior Programmer
Geoff is a film professor at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a freelance cinematographer. Originally from Pennsylvania, he received his BA in Film from Vassar College and MFA in Film Production from USC. He has shot films, music videos, and documentaries all over the world. His most recent project is a psychological horror feature shot in Austin, TX. www.bigpicturefilms.net
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims (2005) Directed by Kankurô Kudô
A bizarre road film following a gay couple in Edo period Japan on their quest to get clean from heroin. They encounter strange samurai, unusual animals, and even death as they travel across Japan. Anachronistic cultural references abound in this comedy ending with a beautiful message about love.
Elaine Strutz • Programmer
Elaine is a Detroit-born Emmy Award-winning film & TV editor, writer, and director who’s been making movies since high school.
Since graduating from NYU’s Film & TV program at Tisch, she’s edited for shows such as Discovery’s KILLING FIELDS and SAY YES TO THE DRESS: ATLANTA, digital series such as BROAD CITY and Eko’s THAT MOMENT WHEN…, and feature documentaries such as Academy Award-winning director Zana Briski’s REVERENCE.
Her most recent short, GET ACTION, in which she wrote, directed, and co-starred premiered at Nitehawk Shorts Festival and went on to screen at numerous others.
In 2015, she co-founded Four a Minute Productions, a boutique video production company based in Los Angeles, with content featured on the Huffington Post, the front page of Funny or Die, and more. www.elainestrutz.com • www.fouraminute.com
Favorite Unconventional Narrative Film: At Land (1944) Directed by Maya Deren
My favorite kind of films are auteur-driven because of the resulting freedom of a filmmaker’s vision, and this Maya Deren’s Avant-garde dreamscape couldn’t be more originally her own. Burned into my brain is the image of Deren crawling out of the sea – followed by a daring cut-to her crawling onto the table at a claustrophobic dinner party. Her vision and magnetic on-screen appearance haunts me years after watching.