Report by Anja Dorniedens
(Program “Horrorism for Beginners, Beginners for Horrorism”)
Ann Arbor Film Festival
25.-30.03.2014, Ann Arbor, MI
Our first stop on our tour was the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Founded in 1963, and having held its 53rd installment, it is the longest running experimental and avant-garde film festival in North America. The festival is held in very high regard in North America and it is a destination for filmmakers and audiences interested in the latest developments in experimental film. Along with competition programs of contemporary work, there are side programs dedicated to the work of single artists and programs of historical and/or overlooked works. These historical programs have been particularly valuable to us in that they help us have a better understanding of the genealogies of the experimental film tradition.
This year we were invited to screen our single channel 16mm film, Wolkenschatten and a multiple projection work, A Home Inside. This was the second time we attended the festival and in both occasions we found that the selection, by festival programmer David Dinnell, was overall quite strong and that the programs were coherently and considerately assembled.
Because of its history and reputation, the festival is consistently well attended both by enthusiasts and filmmakers.
Echo Park Film Center
04.04.2015, Los Angeles, CA
Our second stop on our tour was the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. EPFC is a non-profit media arts center whose goal is to support affordable community access to film and video resources. At their space in the Echo Park neighborhood they provide affordable equipment rental, offer workshops and classes for youth and adults. They also present a regular schedule of screenings in their micro-cinema. Along with these activities they have a residency program that has hosted many experimental filmmakers. We contacted EPFC for our tour because of their history supporting the work of experimental filmmakers and in particular, of analog filmmaking.
This screening was the first where we showed our complete touring program, “Horrorism for Beginners, Beginners for Horrorism”. The 70 min program consists of two single channel films, Gente Perra and Wolkenschatten, and two double projector works, Now I Want to Laugh and Apocalypse for You. The screening was well attended and we had a discussion about the films and themes in the program after the screening.
10.-12.04.2015, San Francisco, CA
After Los Angeles our next screenings took place at the Crossroads Festival in San Francisco. This festival, organized by the San Francisco Cinematheque is in its sixth year and takes place at the Victoria Theater in the Mission District in San Francisco. Led by artistic director and head
programmer, Steve Polta, the festival has become an important showcase for experimental film in North America, as well as an opportunity to see work being made on the West Coast. As is the case with the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Crossroads continues to support the exhibition of analog film and every year a considerable amount of works are shown on 16mm film.
This year we were invited as featured filmmakers and a selection of our recent work was shown during the festival. We showed five works: The Handeye (Bone Ghosts), A Home Inside, Apocalypse for You, Now I Want to Laugh and Wolkenschatten. These works were spread out across 4 programs during two days. It was interesting for us to see how our works resonated with other films and within different programs in such a short period of time.
Black Hole Cinematheque
14.04.2015, Oakland, CA
Our next screening was held in at the Black Hole Cinematheque, an independent, artist-run venue for film and music. Black Hole Cinematheque is also leading an initiative to start an artist-run film lab in San Francisco. This would greatly benefit local filmmakers working with analog film since there are currently no commercial labs operating in the Bay Area.
At BHC we once again showed our full program. We were happy to see that many audience members that had been at Crossroads a few days before came back to see our program.
17.04.2015, Portland, OR
We then presented our program in Portland as part of the Cinema Project screening series. A non-profit volunteer run organization, Cinema Project has organized and presented over 100 programs since it was founded, in 2003. Currently run by Heather Lane, Mia Ferm, and Michael McManus it schedules experimental films screenings regularly throughout the year in different venues across the city. We met Mia a couple of years ago when she was in Berlin doing research on German experimental film. As a result of her research she presented a program of German experimental film, called “Das Suchende Bild” with works dating from 1974-2012 last year in Portland. This program included works by many of our colleagues in Berlin. Our screening took place at the Clinton Street Theater. The screening was well attended and we had a question and answer period after the screening. It was nice to see that CP has built a dependable audience over the years and it serves to us as an example of an alternative to the festival model in terms of showing experimental film and creating a local audience for more demanding work.
Northwest Film Forum
23.04.2015, Seattle, WA
Next we screened at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle. Although its regular programming tends to be in the direction of art-house films, NWFF makes an effort to support visiting filmmakers that work in different or experimental modes including expanded or performance based cinema. The venue came recommended to us from a fellow filmmaker, Caryn Cline,
precisely because of their openness to other types of works and presentation formats. Because they are a running cinema, the technical conditions were excellent. It was also encouraging to see that they had maintained they analog projection equipment in both 16mm and 35mm.
24.04.2015, Victoria B.C., Canada
Our penultimate screening was in Victoria B.C. in Canada. Although it’s a small city, Victoria has a number of organizations dedicated to supporting local film and video makers. It also has the Antimatter film festival, a long running festival dedicated to showing experimental film. Cinevic, our host is an organization not dissimilar to Echo Park Film Center. They also provide equipment rentals, workshops and general filmmaker support. Cinevic also organizes Short Circuit, a local film festival focusing on short films from the Pacific Northwest. Because in its origins (before video), the organization worked on 16mm, they were interested in presenting our work as a way of showing different approaches and the viability of continuing to work with 16mm. Additionally they were interested in having their audience learn about LaborBerlin the artist-run film lab of which we are members and where we have produced a number of our works.
25.-26.04.2015, Vancouver B.C., Canada
Our final screening was held at Cineworks in Vancouver. Cineworks is also an artist-run organization providing support for local filmmakers and media artists. Cineworks also runs an analogue filmmaking studio called The Annex which is an open studio space that offers optical printing, film processing/ printing and animation equipment.
Our screening at Cineworks was co-organized by the Iris Film Collective, a recently formed artist-run analog filmmaking organization in the same spirit of our own collective, LaborBerlin. One of it’s members Alex MacKenzie was in Berlin last year teaching a hand-emulsion workshop at LaborBerlin’s space and he showed his latest film performance work, Intertidal, at the Arsenal. Alex contacted Cineworks for us and made it possible for us to show our program at their screening space.
The day after the screening we gave an artist talk hosted by Iris Film Collective. We spoke about our working process as a duo, our relationship to LaborBerlin and showed a few of our earlier films.
In all the tour was for us very successful. We were glad to make contact with so many other fellow organizations that are actively working to show experimental film and support its makers. In particular we were glad to present our work projected on film in venues that continue to support analog exhibition.