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Experimental Forum at Thessaloniki 51

December 3 - 12, 2010

For the 51st edition of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), the Experimental Forum, placing emphasis on experimental and avant-garde film, presents a variety of film programs and parallel events. The sections of this year’s Forum, programmed by Vassilis Bourikas and totaling approximately 70 films (mostly shorts and medium-length) are:


The Amantes Sunt Amentes (Lovers are Lunatics) program will present the work of filmmakers George Manupelli, Wilhelm Hein and Oleg Mavromati.

George Manupelli, an American filmmaker and painter, was the Dean of the San Francisco Institute of Arts and the founder of the renowned Ann Arbor Film Festival for independent and experimental film. His major cinematic contribution is the Dr. Chicago Trilogy, which has achieved cult status for its mix of bizarre slapstick, exquisite cinematography and contemporary issues such as racism and gay rights. It is the saga of a medical imposter and his outlandish group of misfits, played by important avant-garde figures of the time, such as composer Alvin Lucier. The first and second part of the trilogy, Dr. Chicago (1968) and Ride Dr. Chicago Ride (1970), will be screened during the 51st TIFF and for the first time ever in Europe, while Manupelli will attend the Festival to discuss his longstanding and fascinating career.

Wilhelm Hein is one of the leading proponents of European underground cinema. His early works, made with his wife Birgit, brought him international recognition. Their curatorial work, films, publications and manifestos established the city of Cologne of the 70s as a hub for international underground cinema. After 1990, Hein continued on his own and started to shoot the 14-hour You Killed The Underground Film Or The Real Meaning Of Kunst Bleibt…Bleibt, in a process that took a decade. The result is his magnum opus, a contemplative mosaic of over 100 film sequences, a poetic “love letter” to underground cinema. Reel #1 of the film will be screened during the 51st TIFF.

Oleg Mavromati is a painter, filmmaker, performance artist and member of the Moscow Actionists. He established Supernova Productions and created for his films a method referred to as “directed improvisation”, according to which the actors work with specific actions and statements they have to make (but not a traditional script), they are often amateurs and they regularly put their bodies through extreme conditions (such as providing their own blood in scenes that require it). In 2000 Mavromati fled his native Russia and moved to Bulgaria after he was threatened with imprisonment because of an incendiary performance. His cinematic trilogy, The Secret Aesthetics of the Martian Spies, an allegory about the power of politics and capital, was confiscated. 8 short films that are the only remaining excerpts from the Martian Spies will be screened.


The Experimental Forum presents a comprehensive retrospective of the prolific and radical Australian experimental cinematic scene, spanning a period of forty years and including early animation, structural experiments, as well as mockumentaries, most of which have never been shown in Europe. The program includes films made by renowned artists such as filmmakers Marcus Bergner, also a poet and performance artist, John Cumming, who is also a documentary filmmaker and a film professor and Quentin Turnour, who is also a programmer for the National Film and Sound Archive. All three will attend the 51st TIFF to discuss the work and the history of the Australian experimental film.
The program will include a compilation of 20 films such as Adam and Eve by Dusan Marek (1962), Bolero by Albie Thoms (1967), Obsession by John Cummings (1981-5), My Belle by Peter Tammer (1983), Vision by Dick De Bruyn (1984), Musical Four Letters by Marcus Bergner (1989) and Capillary Action by Paul Winkler (1997).


This section will present a choice selection of experimental films from all over the world, made in 2010. In addition, the program will include a small number of significant older films, such as Fantastic Ballad (1957) by renowned Slovenian filmmaker Bostjan Hladnik, Centaur by Tamas St. Auby (1975) and Of Special Merit by Hellmuth Costard (1968). Costard was part of the New German Cinema movement, although his work veered towards the avant-garde much more than that of his contemporaries.
In this mix of over 35 films, one can discern the variety that is so characteristic to the experimental scene; 35mm works from renowned filmmakers will be shown side by side with the first efforts of young filmmakers, shot with inexpensive digital cameras. In addition, a variety of Greek films such as Tamsara by Michel Pavlou will be shown for the first time as part of the program.
Films that will be screened as part of Last Year’s Resolutions include Rudderless by Igor and Ivan Buharov, Hotel La Mirage by Maximilian Le Cain, Coming Attractions by Peter Tscherkassky, Moonalphabet by Yoel Meranda, and Pastrami by Pip Chodorov.


In the experimental film world, it is almost always the director who gets the credit for a film as a whole and it is often him or her that is elevated to cult status. In this context, it is fitting to pay tribute to one of the people who have played a significant role in the visual creation of experimental films. Martin Putz is an Austrian director of photography and camera operator, who has collaborated with many of the important figures of the Austrian experimental film scene, such as Edgar Honetschläger, Bady Minck, Martin Arnold and Virgil Wirdrich and has developed innovative techniques to drive forward the concepts of the directors he works with.


Kino Climates: Towards an Ecology in Film Exhibition is a conference that began through the collaboration of the Rotterdam International Film Festival and Brussels-based Nova cinema. It focuses on providing an overview of the independent film exhibition scene in Europe and its future, particularly as it pertains to small and alternative venues and forms of showcasing films. A Kino Climates meeting placing the discourse in the context of Southeast Europe and discussing how and where independent and experimental film can be presented to the viewing public in a meaningful manner, will take place during the 51st TIFF.


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