Festival revolves around film and music

by Amy Kingsley

Shalini Chatterjee, the woman behind Revolve Film and MusicFestival, outside her office in the West End. (photo by Amy Kingsley)

Shalini Chatterjee spent the summer of 1989 hand painting animation cells at New York University. Nineteen summers later the former film student cradles an oversized videocassette inside her West End office and muses on the march of moviemaking technology.

“This is the digital version of thirty-five millimeter,” she says. “It’s pretty high quality, according to my standards.” Chatterjee, the brains behind Winston-Salem’s Revolve Film and Music Festival, is a stickler for quality. She tows her own Digi Beta projector to each of the Revolve film screenings. “We don’t use DVDs,” she says. “That’s a home format. You can see that at home, so why would you pay money to see that in a movie theater?” Tickets for individual Revolve screenings will set you back $10, by the way. That’s more than a month’s subscription to Netflix. But it isn’t the money that motivates Chatterjee to put in hours at her spartan office space. What she really wants to do is get Winston-Salem out of the house. “We really need a year-round social event,” she says. Chatterjee launched Revolve in January with a double feature — a 10-minute short entitled “Knitting Lessons” followed by the documentary feature Run Granny Run. She followed it with monthly screenings in venues across the greater North Carolina Piedmont. Her monthly screenings attracted respectable crowds, Chatterjee says. She hopes those same crowds return for this week’s five-day Revolve extravaganza opening Wednesday with the North Carolina premiere of Rick Stevenson’s Expiration Date. It’s a romantic comedy set in Seattle with original music by BC Smith. All of the movies selected by Chatterjee feature music prominently. The festival director has played music professionally for more than two decades and has recently released albums under her first name — Shalini. “I’ve been a musician all my life,” she says. “I’ve been lucky because people kept supporting my music. I’ve never had to pay someone to release my CDs.” Chatterjee hasn’t found the song that’ll catapult her to rock stardom and neither have the subjects of several of the movies she selected. School of the Arts alum Matthew Buzzell captured the final tour of one of the bands — indie darlings Luna — in Tell Me Do You Miss Me. “It’s good,” Chatterjee says, “it’s beautifully shot. The sound is good and the music is good.” That movie will screen on Saturday night and be followed by a reception with the filmmaker and Luna guitarist Sean Eden. None of the films have generated as much excitement as a performance by Pylon, legendary Athens, Ga. rockers, at the Werehouse on Friday night. The band may predate REM, but their reunion has stirred excitement among the Camel City’s musically savvy youth. “I’m a little tired of the bands I see play around here all the time,” Chatterjee says. “I want someone who is going to be new and bright.” Those adjectives also describe the venue Chatterjee requisitioned for the festival, the drama workshop room at the Salem College Fine Arts center, a newly refurbished space that seats 150. Inside that space, lucky ticket holders will experience everything from the celluloid world tour of 4, a film that sets

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons against the four corners of the globe, to a meditation on proto-punks the Monks. “The footage [in 4] is spellbinding,” Chatterjee says. The Monks movie came courtesy of a friend who works at New York’s Film Forum. “As a musician,” she says, “you’ll appreciate how weird they are.” The Revolve Film and Music Festival is materially different from Sundance, Chatterjee says. Instead of seeking somber fare, she solicited films that would appeal to movie geeks and novices alike. “Film festivals have a weird reputation,” Chatterjee says. “Most of them have been around for twenty years, and some for even longer. They don’t have to appeal to everyone, and the experimental and student films usually put people off. That’s not what I’m doing with Revolve.”

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