I usually have a strong preference for narrative cinema but lately I’ve been intrigued much more by experimental and avant-garde cinema which probably reflects my growing interest in the formal aspects of cinema over the last few years.
The problem is that besides the canonical works that I watched in school – I just don’t know where to start when it comes to this genre.
I’ve searched through the MUBI lists on experimental films and they are informative but I prefer getting personal recommendations for films so I can also hear why someone likes them …
Pls, recommend anything you think that I may like or that you like! Also, are there any DVD sets of experimental or avant garde short films that I should buy (download)?
There’s an anthology on Netflix called Unseen Cinema. It’s been in my Q forever but I haven’t seen it.
And everything I’ve seen so far from James Benning and Stan Brakhage.
Brakhage. Get the Criterion releases. Prepare for absolute amazement.
Seconding Wavelength, adding Phantoms of Nabua in the short category.
^ Great add, Xtine. How could I forget?
By the way, Phantoms of Nabua by Apicatpong Weerasethakul can be viewed online (click the title), legitimately, and for free. Definitely worth your time.
Check out Sandro Aguilar’s films A zona and Remains. Both are available to watch here at mubi.
EDIT: This is my post #1,000 I wanted to use it more wisely but well, whatever.
I recently saw a few of Peter Tscherkassky’s shorts, also available here at Mubi. Dream Work, in particular, is excellent.
You could take a look at my Celluloid Ballerinas list. It’s about master film editing, and it’s got films from directors like Kurt Kren, Sergei Eisenstein, Pere Portabella, etc. Most of those filmmakers have other experimental/avant garde works that are worth to check out.
EDIT: There are some other experimental canadian films free to watch online (and also legitimately, like House’s link) in this site , just look for the avant-garde section.
Another list: Can’t get any better than this one http://mubi.com/lists/1221
I was thinking of starting a thread similar to this but specifically for short films that I can find for free online. That is an awesome site, House of Leaves. I can’t wait to check it out.
Kino has 3 volumes of experimental cinema starting from the early 20s to the mid 50s I suggest you pick up 1 or 2 or 3. Also get their ‘The Movies Begin’ boxset if you can.
NFB and UbuWeb provide for virtually endless watching/entertainment
Castro Street by Bill Bailey:
Mr. Hayashi from Baillie is great too.
Peter Hutton gets my highest recommendation. Sharon Lockhart, also.
Also, if you want a fix right now… Ben Russell’s vimeo has a ton of experimental vids, though I think his best is his more narrative (I use that loosely) based feature debut Let Each One Go Where He May. One of the trypps is a scene from that film.
Frans Zwartjes should be mentioned too.
Ubu is your friend for experimental cinema.
I was going to post the Ubu link. Thanks, DuShy.
Thanks all. This is really helpful
National Film Board of Canada
I highly recommend anything by Doug Aitken. In particular, “Electric Earth” which you can watch here:
many 20s European films now part of the general canon are avant-garde
Fall of the House of Usher (Watson, Webber)
The Pearl (d’Ursel)
Aimless Walk (Hammid)
Composition in Blue (Fischinger)
Colour Box (Lye)
Rose Hobart (Cornell)
Begone Dull Care (McLaren, Lambart)
Heaven and Earth Magic (Smith)
Very Nice! Very Nice! (Lipsett)
Go Go Go! (Menken)
Ilha das Flores (Furtado)
The Passing (Viola)
Film Ist (Deutsch)
Outer Space (Tscherkassky)
Heart of the World (Maddin)
Light is Calling (Morrison)
and i like the cut out fantasy animations of Larry Jordan
“The whole concept of avant-garde in art is meaningless” (Tarkovsky)
Tarkovsky hated most avant-garde stuff, in particular Stan Brakhage (whom I agree with him about :P)
Yeah, the wonders of Brakhage are lost on me too. I simply don’t get it, and he’s not the only one- i take each avant-garde film on its merits (or my blind spots)
From Africa, Touki Bouki is often classed as an avant-garde film, well worth seeing. From the Caucasus, Peleshian is an interesting director who may fit the bill.
Geez…Begotten. I had a bad experience watching that the first time, couldn’t get through the opening. Was just in a bad place, have to revisit. But yeah, great recommendation.
Anyway, Ubu is, as established, a deliriously generous godsend.
On Youtube you can find, among other pieces by these filmmakers,:
Meshes Of The Afternoon and At Land by Maya Deren
Science Friction by Stan VanDerBeek
Fireworks by Kenneth Anger
Mothlight by Stan Brakhage(Lots by him to recommend, but this is a favorite)
Dreams That Money Can Buy by Hans Richter
If you haven’t seen it already, my big personal recommendation is Cocteau’s Blood Of A Poet.
Also, The Grandmother, The Alphabet, and Premonitions Following An Evil Deed by David Lynch.