Called the most fearless documentary filmmaker of the the Twin Cities, Melody Gilbert's Frozen Feet Films unearths the strangest stories in the most banal places. With locations including the world's largest mall and abandoned urban environments, Gilbert presents her characters with rare intimacy that unravels their pain, much like how the Coen Brothers treat a psychopath—the difference of course is that Gilbert's subjects aren't fictional.
Gilbert's 2003 film, "Whole" explores the growing world-wide obsession with becoming an amputee, that is, physically healthy people who desire to, and even succeed in removing their own limbs. In the same way that many desire corrective surgery, the film documents the new impulse to remove limbs in order to feel more "whole."
In 2005 Gilbert made "A Life Without Pain, which follows three children who have the rare genetic defect of not being able to feel pain. Gilbert comments, "pain is really a gift that no one wants, but none of us can live without."
Perhaps this precipitated the idea for Gilbert's most recent social experiment called "Disconnected." Gilbert required several of her students at Carleton College to undergo "digital detox" for three weeks in an attempt to live a productive lifestyle without using computers or cell phones. Needless to say, this was a different kind of pain, but certainly a universal one. Disconnected screens this weekend at the Oxford International Film Festival. Follow Gilbert's latest projects on her website.