Bericht von Juan David Gonzalez Monroy, Anja Dornieden (THE HANDEYE (BONE GHOSTS))
This year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival was a very interesting year for experimental and avant-garde film. In certain ways this year proved to be a turning point in their support for the type of different, independent and challenging films that don’t usually get much support in larger festivals.
Edinburgh, although by all means a large, wide-ranging festival with sections that cover short and feature length fiction and documentary, has, with their “Black Box” section continued to foment a space for the exhibition and discussion of so-called “experimental” work. Curated for the past 5 years by Kim Knowles, this year’s program featured for the first time an expanded cinema program. Named “Black Box Live” it consisted of three performances projected live on super8, 16mm and 35mm film by the artists Screen Bandita, Nominoë and Sami van Ingen respectively. The fact that this program, as well as many of the other black box programs,
was sold out, points to the growing interest in different types of cinema and the need for adventurous programmers that are willing to show works that, in both content and form, falls outside of the traditional forms of commercial cinema consumption.
Especially now a days, when the cinema as the preeminent space of cinematic experience continues to lose ground to all sorts of digital home and mobile streaming and downloading services, it’s refreshing to see that there is growing support for the type of program that, because of its performance aspects, - i.e. it must be experienced lived and at every screening its built in accidents and variations mean the creation of a different work for every single audience -, openly defies those types of viewing experiences that are being pushed by the commercial film industry.
Of further interest to us is the fact that the Black Box program continues to be one of the few that still supports the exhibition of films in the super8, 16mm and 35mm formats. Since our own work is in part dedicated to supporting and fomenting the continued use of analog film formats, it is always encouraging to see at least a small part of a large festival refusing, for
the moment at least, to follow suit with many other festivals and convert all of their screenings to digital projection. It is clear to us that at least Kim Knowles understands that the viewing experience of certain types of films are dependent on both their shooting and exhibition
format and that the artistic integrity of the works is done a disservice by forcing upon it a
format that is dictated more by convenience and economic opportunism. Hopefully younger audiences that may drift towards these types of programs and serendipitously experience the power of real film projected in front of them will seek out programs and festivals that offer a cinematic experience quite different from what they could just as well experience at home in front of their TV or computer.
However, although the aforementioned progress is promising, there is still a ways to go for this festival to be truly considered as a not-miss destination for experimental filmmakers. One would think that the size and prestige of the festival would allow them to at least give accommodation to all of the visiting filmmakers. But, as what has become common practice in many large festivals, short and experimental filmmakers are forced to cover travel and accommodation costs. Thankfully we were lucky enough to receive travel and
accommodation support from AG Kurzfilm/ German Films that allowed us to attend the festival and present our film in person. This was a welcomed opportunity since being there allowed us to meet other fellow filmmakers and the festival did take the trouble to organize evening gatherings where we were able to share and discuss our thoughts on the films we had seen.
It is clear to us that the festivals that put the filmmakers first create a much more enjoyable and fruitful situation, not just for the filmmakers themselves but also for the audience that is able to share and discuss with them on a deeper and closer level. For ourselves, even though
with a film like ours we might not attend a festival looking to sell distribution rights or make any other kind of traditional economic deal, we know that the future development of an art practice is fed by the possibility of sharing and discussing one’s work with fellow colleagues and that the collaborative possibilities that may arise from these encounters are of the utmost importance to the healthy sustenance of this type of work. The festivals that realize this are surely the ones that we as filmmakers will be looking to attend and continue to support.