Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Experiments in Cinema v12.3: The Cubano Edition

Experiments in Cinema v12.3: The Cubano Edition

Experiments in Cinema is an annual celebration of international, cinematic undependence. This Basement Films festival brings the global community of alternative moving image artists to New Mexico as a way of inspiring a new generation of media activists to recognize the value of their voices and to participate in shaping future trends of cultural representation. Experiments in Cinema screens approximately 100 films from over 35 countries in addition to hosting unique lectures, workshops and a regional youth program that features films made by New Mexican high school students.  

Expanding Video is a pop-up exhibit that mirrors the mission of our festival, offering attendees a cross section of works that speak to our understanding of the depth and breadth of the current sate of the (media) art. To this end, we try to be inclusive while also challenging our own aesthetic predisposition. Expanding Video, and the films and programs presented at the Guild Cinema (our other festival venue), are expressions of this mission. In this exhibit of media-based installation work, not only are we featuring works that embrace new technologies, but also those that look back to embrace what we like to call dead technologies.  And, at the risk of suggesting a false binary, we would like to think that we are also presenting works that study “everything in between.”  
The title, Expanding Video, is borrowed from Cuban media scholar Yainet Rodriguez. Rodriguez who is one of five Cuban scholars who Experiments in Cinema is hosting as part of our festival’s special focus on Cuban media art this year. Yainet is presenting a program that explores time-based installation work from that island country in conjunction with this pop-up exhibition. One might note that amongst the works in this exhibition is Three In One Flags by Cuban artist, Nestor Siré.

I am often asked to define undependent cinema (sometimes referred to as experimental, personal or the alternative screen), which is a fair question considering the dynamic nature of the form. Unlike a Western, romantic comedy or horror movie, the parameters and tropes of cinematic undependence are much more slippery, as they necessarily move and oscillate in challenging and unexpected ways. Consider how, back in the 1930s, Georgia O’Keeffe experimented with paint and canvas in terms of how one might re-envision the way a landscape can be represented on a rectangular surface. Or, think about how a scientist might develop a hypothesis and then stage an experiment to explore the validity of his/her assertion. These are all illustrations that suggest possibilities for assessing and interpreting cinematic experimentation. 

I consider undependent, cinematic practitioners to be the traveling troubadours of our day. In the most egalitarian way, these artists are invested in sharing the news of the day (literally and often metaphorically), from their perspectives and from their particular corners of the world. These are works that speak from the heart. They are not tainted by boardrooms filled with marketing executives, burdened by multi-million dollar budgets or assigned value by Saatchi & Saatchi. Too often, the moving image/cinema is thought of as something that necessarily costs millions of dollars to make. If one believes in the cultural importance of the arts, imagine if a painting necessarily cost millions of dollars to make, we would be culturally bankrupt.  The moving image arts have a responsibility (like all the arts) to deliver a vital, barometric read of the human condition. To this end it is the goal of Experiments in Cinema to offer works that speak to this responsibility, while also offering opportunities for engagement and, most importantly, participation. Go make a movie (that doesn’t cost millions of dollars to craft) or a time-based installation, and then share it with EVERYONE!

 Bryan Konefsky
    Founder/Director, Experiments in Cinema
    President, Basement Films

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