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Experimenta 2003
Festival of experimental film, India

Wavelength, Michael Snow

Bombay, India
19 February 2003

"Since its inception in 2003 Experimenta proudly showcases Indian Films that delight in eccentric form and abstract narrative. These are exciting films that display an independence from the constraints of the generic western avant-garde. Experimenta ultimately seeks to explore a new visual world and is an invitation to explore and support a movement to break the boundaries of what constitutes film art in India". – Shai Heredia, Festival director (from Experimenta 2005 catalogue)


Co-curators Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, no.w.here


Stan Brakhage, USA, 1963, 16mm, silent, colour, 4min
“Brakhage made Mothlight without a camera. He just pasted mothwings and flowers on a clear strip of film and ran it through the printing machine.” – Jonas Mekas.

“Brakhage's films challenge film conventions even by their extreme contrasts of length. They include intimate portraits of friends and family, film-poems, landscape films, autobiography and more recent collaborations with composers and writers. His personal creation myth centres on the act of shooting and editing. Equally, the objective side of his films their rhythms, metrics, camera style, subject matter make uncompromising demands on the viewer to elicit and construct meaning, thus shifting attention from the authors voice to the spectators eye. Viewing avant-garde film is here very close to the process of viewing modern painting.” – Al Rees

Six films by Len Lye (all 16mm, New Zealand/USA):
1929, 6min
Colour Flight
1938, 4min
Colour Cry
1952, 3min
1957, 1min
Particles in Space
1979, 4min
Tal Farlow
1980, 1.5min
Len Lye (1901-1980) was a major figure in experimental film making as well as a leading kinetic sculptor and an innovative theorist, painter and writer. He pioneered 'direct film', film made without a camera by painting and scratching images directly onto celluloid and became one of the pioneers of the genre later known as the 'music video'.

Berlin Horse
Malcolm Le Grice, UK, 1970, 16mm, sound, colour, 8min
“This film is largely filmed with the exploration of the film medium in certain aspects. It is also concerned with making certain conceptions about time in a more illusory way. The film is in two parts joined by a central superimposition of the material from both parts. The first part is made from a small section of film shot by me in 8mm colour, and later refilmed in various ways from the screen in 16mm b/w. The b/w material was then printed in a negative positive superimposition through colour filters creating a continually changing 'solarization' image, which works in its own time abstractly from the image. The second part is made by treating very early b/w newsreel of a similar subject in the same way.” – Malcolm le Grice.

Room Film
Peter Gidal, UK, 1973, 16mm, colour, silent, 55min
I was particularly impressed with Gidal's film, which from what I've seen may be his best to date. Very subtly and very plastically it deals with light. The film is uncompromisingly rigid in its minimality of action. A very beautifully realised piece of work...it is definitely contemporary in feeling and substance. It is one of the best films to come out of the London School. – Jonas Mekas, Village Voice 1973.

Thursday 20th February:

Unsere Afrikareise
Peter Kubelka, Austria, 1966, 16mm, sound, 12min
Peter Kubelka's Unsere Afrikareise (Our Trip to Africa), was commissioned by Austrian tourists, as a simple documentation of their safari to Africa. Kubelka then painstakingly edited this film over a period of 5 years and made one of cinema's few masterpieces and a work of such great perfection that it forces one to re-evaluate everything that one knows about cinema. The images are relatively conventional 'records' of a hunting-trip in Africa. The shooting records multiple 'systems' white hunters, natives, animals, natural objects, buildings in a manner that preserves the individuality of each. At the same time, the editing of sound and image brings these systems into comparison and collision, producing a complex of multiple meanings, statements, and ironies...

The Doctors Dream
Krn Jacobs, USA, 1978, 16mm, sound, 25min
“Jacobs has restructured an existing film, The Doctor into The Doctor's Dream. The new film starts with the shot, which was numerically the middle shot in the old film. It then proceeds to the shot that came before the middle shot, then skips over to the other side to the shot that middle shot and keeps skipping back and forth. Finally, at the end you see the beginning shot of the original film followed by the end shot.” – Canadian Filmmakers' Distribution catalogue 1988.

“To watch The Doctor's Dream is to witness a narrative unfolding forwards and backwards in turns… a deconstructive Frankenstein of a film with new vitality in its borrowed parts.” – Tom Gunning, Millennium Film Journal

Igor & Gleb Aleinikov, Russia, 1987, 16mm, 13min
In 1980 the power of the Soviet tractor engines amounted to 497 million horse power. This industrial achievement induced the most important metaphor for Russia. Tractors, a found footage film from the Aleinikov brothers, uses Soviet propaganda material to both satirize and eroticize, the most sacred of socialist realist symbols, thus suggesting a tragic history behind this icon.

Piece Touchee
Martin Arnold, Austria, 16mm, 1989, sound, 16min
An 18 second long take out of an American B picture, which was produced in the early 50's is reproduced picture by picture and revised as to its temporal and spatial progression. Given factors: him and her, the space and the time spent in there.

Metropolen des Leichtsinns
Thomas Draschan, Germany, 2000, 16mm, colour, 12min
Submerging, cell-sectioning, disk-shooting, curve-taking, light-dazzling, earth-shattering, motion-stopping. This film is constructed using a collection of about 500 different 16mm films , mostly educational shorts, some TV serials, some features, lots of advertising. It starts with a journey into film itself, followed by love-making, birth, suicide, and almost any humanly possible occupation. A devilish deconstruction of our pre-programmed lives as occidental individuals.

Surface Noise
Abigail Child, USA, 2001, 16mm, 13mins
Cobbled from found footage that Child describes as "outtakes of outtakes", Surface Noise is a dense collage of images with an experimental soundtrack. Sometimes the images sync with the noise; the flailings of a salmon swimming upstream is coupled with a rimshot, and home movie footage of a man laughing is paired with a female opera singer. In most of Surface Noise, however, sound and image follow their own dialectical paths.

Friday 21st February:

The Girl Chewing Gum
John Smith, UK, 1976, 16mm, sound, 12min
In The Girl Chewing Gum the commanding voice over of a film director appears to control the traffic and people in a busy London street as if they were actors in a movie. But they are not: in fact the commentator is describing, not prescribing, a scene of daily life. A second and final sequence ambiguously locates the commentator in a distant field. By reversing the logical order of the drama film where the script and not the shot comes first Smith deconstructs its truth claims by exposing its fantasies of control and its illusionist bias. Later Smith embraced the 'spectre of narrative' (suppressed by structural film), to play word against picture and chance against order. This early work anticipates the more elaborate scenarios to come, and like them is ghosted by the narrative impulse which drives the film medium. – Al Rees

Brad Butler-Karen Mirza, UK, 16m, 15mins, 1999
Non Places explores dark corners and empty spaces: the parts of the city which we pass through but don't even see, but where another's personal memories may reverberate and leave silent scars. Non Places triggers memories, causing the past, present and future to collide into a collapsed sense of time and space.

A&B in Ontario
Joyce Wieland, Canada, 16mm, 1984, sound, 17min
'A delightful tongue in cheek, cat and mouse cinema game in which Wieland and Frampton stalk each other with handheld cameras… The formal qualities of shooting, framing and editing are impeccable. A&B in Ontario shows Wieland at the top of her form and is a celebration of Canadian filmmaking.” – Gerald Perry

Michael Snow, Canada, 1966-67, 16mm, sound, colour, 45min
“One of the few truly original works of the current avant-garde, a perfect example of the cinema of stillness and poetic contemplation weaving its hypnotic charms so deviously that many who come to scoff remain transfixed. 'Wavelength' is one of those few films that compels the viewer regardless of his personal reactions to speculate on the very essence of the medium and inevitably of reality.” – Amos Vogel

“Described by its creator as a 'continuous zoom which takes 45 mins to go from its widest field to its smallest and final field' Wavelength is at once one of the most simplest yet complex films ever conceived. Literally oscillating between the conceptual and the immediately real, its four human occurrences interrupt yet remain in to the flow of continually metamorphosing variations on the unrelenting crescendo of its 'one shot' toward and into the four windows of a Canal Street Loft.” – Film Quarterly


Cinema of Prayoga:Indian experimental film and video 1913-2006
Experimenta 2003:Festival of experimental film, India
Experimenta 2004:Festival of experimental film, India
Experimenta 2005:Festival of experimental film, India

Found footage
Structural film
• Al Rees


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