Avant-Garde & Experimental Film

Phases of the avant-garde / experimental

• phase 1: German "graphic" cinema of the early twenties (Expressionism). • phase 2: the rise of French Cubist, Dada, cinéma pur and Surrealist filmmaking through into the 1930s. • phase 3: U.S. American experimental cinema from the "trance" to the "mythopoeic" film into 1950‟s-60‟s. • phase 4: With "structural film" of the late Sixties, avant-garde filmmaking again became more broadly international

Definitions of avant-garde and experimental film
• It is created by one person, or occasionally a small group collectively, working on a minuscule • It eschews the production-line model by which the various functions of filmmaker are divided among different individuals and groups

• It does not try offer a linear story that unfolds in the theatrical space of mainstream narrative

Definitions of avant-garde and experimental film
• It makes conscious use of the materials of cinema in a way that calls attention to the medium, and does not do so in scenes bracketed by others in a more realistic mode that would isolate the "experimental" scenes as dream or fantasy sequences • It has an oppositional relationship to both the stylistic characteristics of mass media and the value systems of mainstream culture • It doesn't offer a clear, univalent "message.”

European Avant-Garde
• “… a situation in which polemics about film and its modernist context thrived. This produced Impressionist, DaDaist, Cubist, and Surrealist experiments, all of of which conceived of film as an art whose specific nature was visual, and all of which took various positions in relation to the narrative, fictional component of the art. This led to an emphasis on the visual image, on mise-en-scene, on montage, and on technical devices of lighting and camerawork as opposed to what was conceived of as the narrative linearity of the literary or theatrical commercial cinema.”
from Flitterman-Lewis, To Desire Differently Feminism and the French Cinema, pg 81

European avant-garde
• 1. primarily an attack on the status of art in bourgeois society; 2. not a negation of past art or style, but a negation of art as an autonomous institution unassociated with life; 3. to this end it rejects the rationality of the present

4. attempts to join art + life, providing a foundation for life in the creative act.

Duchamp „readymades‟

• "Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life."

Un Chien Andalou

Buñuel and Dali
• NOTHING in the film, SYMBOLIZES ANYTHING. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.

American Avant-Garde
• Where does the film go against your expectations? • How does it use experimental cinematographic techniques ? • How are symbols used --objects that seem to have an importance beyond their everyday function in the world or in this film?

Maya Deren

Avant-Garde film today
• http://vimeo.com/21779327 (These Hammers don‟t hurt us. Michael Robinson, 2010) • http://youtu.be/HwcF6ea2PMQ (Mighty Boosh) • http://youtu.be/KER_IcHQYcA (Melancholia)

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0vgA WhasEncC&printsec=frontcover&source= gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage& q&f=false

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