Clive Myer and Mike Dunford
Clive Myer and Mike Dunford were considering the space and place of experimental film in today’s so-called “anything goes” multi-platform, media faced society. They were curious to ask whether it was still possible to be radical through experimental film. So, they put out a call through the Radical Film Network (RFN) – the worldwide collective of filmmakers, exhibitors, writers and academics. There were already 200 films deposited on the RFN site, a mixture of political, environmental and community films, with just a few experimental works too. To their surprise, in response to the call, they received a broad range of over 60 new experimental film additions to the RFN Library, each with their own definition of what and how a film is, or could be perceived as radical. Films were sent from Spain, France, Portugal, UK, Austria, Kenya, Greece, USA, Australia, Catalonia/Scotland, Italy, Egypt, Morocco and Ireland. We hope that this extracted playlist will help to encourage experimentality and radical thinking back onto university and filmmaking curricula, whether they be academic courses, film festivals or personal exchanges of work through the RFN list.
You can find all the experimental films at www.radicalfilmnetwork.com
Hankyō (Emma Dove, UK, 2022, 15mins 22 secs)
Hankyō was commissioned as a creative response to The Mitori Project, a comparative study exploring end of life issues in the UK and Japan, led by the University of Glasgow (2019-2020).Inspired by writer and composer John Cage, Hankyō uses a process known as ‘writing through’ to generate ‘mesostic’ poems in English and Japanese. Chance techniques determined which poems became script and where they fell within the film. Scoping the boundaries of ‘experimentation’ within academia, Hankyō swaps one set of rules and guidelines designed to maintain order and academic rigour for another designed to break apart and entirely rearrange meaning.
Mono (Sangham Sharma, Austria, 2015, 64 mins)
A mystical film on monolithic architecture, monophonic music and the ancient female* old. A piece about stones and single tones. A celebration of slowness. Ghost shots. Ghost space. A phantom (of the past). A dense video-audio dynamic, demanding and minimal, suggests a mysterious background story, a genesis of drone and stones. Alongside with atmospheric static shots of various ancient and modern monoliths (including an artificial one), the tale is performed in three languages (English, Welsh and Old Norse) narrated by women of different generations and cultures representing the ancient past, the current presence and the distant future. No actual reference to time or place are made.
Sueños de un Aprendiz/Dreams of the Apprentice (Luis Carlos Rodriguez, Spain, 2023, 8 mins 48 secs)
Sueños de un Aprendiz (Dreams of the Apprentice) is part of an audio-visual artistic research project that seeks to transfer expressive and emotional concepts to the screen through moving images, which is why it deliberately lacks narrative, formal and structural aspects. The film is part of a broader experimental audio-visual research project which, through the construction and deconstruction of scenes generated by artificial intelligence, aims to explore questions that encompass formal, structural, narrative and aesthetic aspects of the audio-visual arts from the point of view of artistic-expressive activities.
Video URL: https://vimeo.com/822042666
Resisters (Jill Daniels, UK/Germany, 2021, 69 mins)
Located in Berlin and addressed to Rosa Luxemburg, Resisters experiments with poetic vignettes referencing the past in the present through slow-motion shots of place and fragments of voiced addresses to past resisters of fascism, interwoven with stills, found footage, interviews and the activities of Grandmothers Against the Right.
Video URL: https://vimeo.com/751202823
The End of the World (Ali Aschman, UK, 2023, 3 mins)
How do we relate to the concept of climate catastrophe on a personal level? The filmmaker draws a parallel between various threats of climate change and her own visceral and emotional experience of grieving after an immense and sudden loss, questioning her capacity to care about humanity yet nonetheless showing a glimmer of hope for the future. Created in response to research on storytelling and Global Catastrophic Risk at the Center for the Study of Existential Risk, as a partnership between the University of Cambridge and Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts.
Camarades junts-i-a-banda/Comrades Together-apart (Núria Araüna Baró and David Archibald, Catalonia/Scotland, 2021, 12 mins)
Comrades together-apart/Camarades junts-i-a-banda was made by two academics working at distance, one in Catalonia, one in Scotland. The film was shot and edited during the Covid-19 lockdown when we were forced to stay within our borders and, at times, within our own homes. The film combines footage of contemporary political protests and movements in our respective countries and reflects on actually existing colonial processes both within and outwith the higher education system. Using a poor audiovisual aesthetic, the film combines newly shot phone footage of everyday life during this moment. The film takes inspiration from the thinking of Karen Barad, in particular her notion of “cutting together-apart,” in addition to the work of other theorists, including Lucrecia Masson, Isabelle Garo, Walter Benjamin, Octavio Getino, Stefano Harney, and Fred Moten.
Inbound (David Anthony Sant, Australia, 2023, 5 mins 13 secs)
The expanse of the urban and suburban adjoins the shoreline of Sydney Harbour. The eternal vibrancy and vigour of the Harbour water discerned when accompanied by the discourse of the universal language. Spouting water from city fountains fill the bisecting patterns.
Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdA-aL3SQVA
Circling the Drain (Mike Dunford, UK, 2023, 20 mins)
2023. Morbid symptoms accumulate.
Video URL: https://vimeo.com/841284359
Plutopia (Lazeez Raimi, France/UK/Germany, 2021, 23 mins 35 secs)
Plutopia is influenced by the French sociologist Jacques Ellul’s discourse on ‘technique’ – defined as “all refined methods that impose absolute efficiency in every human field of activity” in his seminal work ‘The Technological Society’ (1964). The video contains musings by Ellul in which he outlines the history of technique and technology and its consequences for post-industrial society. Images of nature and the organic are juxtaposed with the artificial urban environment. The second half of the film elucidates Ellul’s plea contained in the ‘Last Words’ of ‘The Technological Bluff’ (1990) – to recognise our freedom by acknowledging the bind in which we are held by blind deference to technology.
Video URL: https://youtu.be/DzqqGVxNl-U
Clive Myer was founder and former Director of the International Film School Wales, The Film Academy at the University of Glamorgan, and the Skillset Screen Academy Wales. He established Ffresh, the student moving image festival of Wales. He is Chair of WOW – Wales One World Film Festival, now in its 22nd year and continuing to bring world cinema to Wales. He has produced and/or directed and photographed avant-garde and experimental drama and documentary films since the early 1970s. With his partner Lynda Myer-Bennett, his most recent feature films include The Orchard (2013), Maurice El Medioni: The Birth of PianOriental (2016) and The Mire Archive (2020). His book, Critical Cinema: Beyond the Theory of Practice, is published by Wallflower/Columbia University Press.
Mike Dunford began working with experimental film in 1968 as a founder-member of the London Film-makers Co-operative, and started working in new video in San Francisco and New York in the early 1980’s, continuing back in London until 1996. He began working again on digital video-art in 2014. Each of his films and videos plays with simultaneity, linearity, narrativity, and post-representation, building it with the images around him. They are as much about themselves and their process of making and seeing as they are about what the camera sees and what the viewer sees.