By Phil Hall | February 19, 2003

“Winner” is a subversively funny improvised short about a woman who is supposed to be interviewed for her good luck in winning a free cruise courtesy of a radio station contest. When the videographer assigned to shoot a promotional video with the winner shows up, the winner instead uses the opportunity to show off her bizarre artwork and to talk at great length about her plans to create new musical statements including a remake of “Thriller” using wind and bird songs. Despite the videographer’s attempts to get the woman to talk about how thrilled she is to win the cruise, the woman instead tries to steer the moment into a chance to become the focus of a documentary regarding her artistic projects.
Filmmaker Harry Dodge and performance artist Stanya Kahn collaborated on this very funny film, which was shot in the parking lot and across the baseball field in a park. Kahn’s deadpan demeanor and off-kilter notion of what constitutes culture (one of her works is a rubber toy shark taped to a lint brush) is a hilariously damning slap at pretentious artists who mistake conceit with imagination. Kahn’s inspired elusiveness in speaking about her contest prize and her none-too-subtle attempts to get the videographer to agree to make a longer film brings new depth to the notion of audacious chutzpah.
“Winner” is a one-joke film, but it is one damn funny joke played for all of its worth. And unlike most joke films, it knows exactly when to call it quits while leaving its audience both satisfied yet slightly greedy for more.

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