'MIX Festival'

MIX, New York's annual experimental queerfest, has slimmed down to a five-day "mini-derby" of short-film programs remarkably unified in scope and quality. Here are some highlights.

The opening night showcase (November 18) features Mike Hoolboom's Positiv, in which the HIV-positive filmmaker asks whether the virus really "belongs" to him, and Christopher Chong's irreverent Crash Skid Love.

The free programs on November 19 include "TV Dinners," with Flat Is Beautiful, Sadie Benning's free-floating fantasy-romance about two fifth-graders, told through a pixellated montage of carnivalesque masks and cutouts.

The festival's strongest component may be the Super-8 sidebar curated by Stephen Kent Jusick. The colorfully smarmy '70s skin flicks in the closing night event, "Score!" (at the Knitting Factory), make one pine for the age of real peep booths. "Illicit Acts" (November 22) presents work by directors like Isaac Julien, Jocelyn Taylor, and Rose Troche, who respond to "Ghouliani" 's recent morality checks.

This year's biggest coup is a group of Andy Warhol's Polavision movies. This remarkable raw footage was shot circa 1978 to 1979 using a special camera and film cartridge, and was both processed and projected within minutes. Liza Minnelli and John Lennon pose for the camera at the Factory; see Steve Rubell, Taylor Meade, and a very fresh-looking Chris Makos frolic at Studio 54.

Other promising programs: the laughably sick "Frankenstein's Dreams" package; "Scared Stiff," which puts a queer spin on horror flicks; and "Manipulation," which consists of films torn, tinted, twisted, and otherwise tweaked, literally bearing the mark of their makers' hands (and, probably, other body parts).

 
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