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Celluloid Psychosis 

by BRITTANY WILMES & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & keletal systems, forests of nerves and red-rimmed eye sockets become external body parts in Martha Colburn's short film "Myth Labs." Thorsten Fleisch's film runs just over four minutes, showing strip after strip of his own smeared blood. "Tesla's Suicide" ends with the credit "A Nightmare by Max Sacker."

To sum it up, these films are "beautiful and dream-like," says Gary McLeod, co-founder of the Flicker Spokane Film Festival. Wait. What? Beautiful?

Aficionados of traditional film would agree. Flicker film festivals celebrate the eerie, unique quality of celluloid film with two simple rules: A submitted film must be less than 15 minutes long, and it must originate on film, not in video format.

With two showings this Sunday, the 666 Spokane Flicker Film Festival is coming to the Magic Lantern Theater with a definite emphasis on horror-themed films.

"Horror-themed," McLeod, emphasizes, doesn't mean slasher films. Celluloid film is fitting for the horror genre because it's filled with cracks and flaws. "Film lends itself to a mind's-eye perspective. These films will make you think," he says. "We like all the flaws and hairs that get stuck in there."

Independent filmmakers use film to create stories that force viewers to leave with their own interpretations. Take Fleisch's "Blutrausch," German for "bloodlust." The award-winning film creates a dialogue between man and machine, using film to read his blood -- literally. Fleisch smeared and dotted filmstrips with his blood, then used a tape on the camera to interpret the material as music, creating a haunting four minutes. "It's beautiful. As sound, the blood just crackles. You could never do that with video," McLeod says.

Every year, McLeod and his three co-founders of the Spokane festival seek out what they consider to be some of the most cutting-edge short films in filmmaking today. "Good art should be challenging and push the limits," he says. "Everything is filtered through us. We're bringing something different to Spokane."

Film goes where video can't, McLeod says, by turning the typically externalized horror genre into an intensifying internal struggle.

One of this year's films, "The Gibbering Horror of Howard Ghormley," does just that, like a Blair Witch Project turned inside out. Whereas on the big screen, the characters are pursued externally, the Flicker feature is all about interpretation. "It's dreamy, like old memories. It brings to mind that kind of fractured memory that is broken, twisted, brought through your own perspective," says McLeod.

The goal of Flicker festivals is to leave the interpretation up to the viewer. "We like you leaving with more questions than answers," says McLeod, smiling. "You walk away thinking, 'This is disturbing. Why do I like it?'"

The 666 Spokane Flicker Film Festival at the Magic Lantern, 25 W. Main Ave., on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 pm and 6 pm. Tickets: $6. Visit

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