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Alternatives on Alternative Film and Video Festival 2011

Academic Film Center was founded as Akademic Film Club in 1958. Through its history, thanks to authors such as Kokan Rakonjac, Sava Trifkovic, Živojin Pavlovic, Tomislav Gotovac, Dragoslav Lazic, Vjekoslav Nakic, Milan Jelic, Radoslav Vladic, Ivan Obrenov, Ivko Šešic, Nikola Đuric, Miodrag Miloševic, Bojan Jovanovic, Miloje Radakovic, Dejan Vlaisavljevic, Igor Toholj, Bob Miloshevic, Zelimir Zilnik, Godina etc… it became very significant and most awarded of all film clubs in ex Yugoslavia. Since 1976, Center operates within “Students’ City” Cultural Center, and it is the only film club survived in the area. With over 500 films and videos produced in the center and huge collection of avant-garde film and videos produced by other authors, Center has established the Archive of alternative film held as cultural heritage of Serbia. Beside the numerous screenings and lectures, film schools and workshops, Center has founded two important festivals: STAF (1967-1970) and ALTERNATIVE FILM – VIDEO to average production of 20 films per a year.  Until 1990, festival included in its programs several hundreds of works of old Yugoslav authors. “The program were the referent frame for contextualization and comprehension of domestic production while the discussions and debates secured critical and theoretical elaboration and comprehension of current tendencies production.”

International Festival of New Film and Video, Alternative film / video

At the present time, where there is no more Yugoslavia, Alternative Film and Video Festival gets entries from the region of ex-Yugoslavia, in its new edition, according to all present tendencies of re-integration inside the ex-Yugoslav region. Festival tends to explore and reconstruct the image of alternative film and video production in ex/Yugoslav area in past decade and intend to explore and find new phenomena of alternative production, which appeared and articulated in past decade.  Ever since 2006, the Festival becomes international and looks out for insight into the new tendencies on international scene, and “also to enable wider contextualization for the Serbian and regional scene.”  Alternative film/video is the international festival of alternative and experimental film and video. The aim of the festival is to document and define in theory the trends.   

This year, the International Festival of New Film and Video, Alternative film / video, from 7 - 11 December held in the Student City Cultural Center in Belgrade, presented a fifty films in the international and regional competition and support programs, along with guests from Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and France. The festival opened with homage to the late Croatian artist and filmmaker Tomislav Gotovac, a friend and participant of Alternative Festival, hosted by Dragica Vukadinović exhibition "Conversation about the movie, a walk through New Belgrade with Tom" and Sava Trifkovic’s film-installation “Boulevard”, homage to Gotovac’s film from 1964. Ana Knezevic also exhibited light-sound installation "Light on Void" implemented by the early German avant-garde films.  Selection Committee of festival Zoran Saveski and GregDe Cuir, American student living and working in Belgrade originally from LA, selected from 400 submitted films for the 42 main competition program, and 9 for the following, entitled "Narratives". Festival’s founder and black wave old Yugoslav film mentor from Slovenia Karpe Godina presented and mentored festival. Among the guests of honor who has presented specific programs and participated in round table, dedicated to the archives, digitization and distribution of alternative film and experimental film in the region announced member of the production and distribution companies.
A represent or such as Six-pack Film responsible for the preservation and presentation of the Austrian avant-garde film Gerald Weber  and Fritz Hock from Austria - a representative of the International Short Film Festival K3, which takes place in Italy in Udine and Villach in Austria.
One of the main guests from Croatia was multimedia artist, professor of film and filmmaker from the crucial period of ex Yugoslavian film Ivan Ladislav Galeta. Then honored guest from Bosnia and Herzegovina Muratović Amir, son of well-known filmmaker of ex Yugoslavia Ivica Matic. Amir Muratovic featured films and presented his book about the author Ivica Matic “Sweet passion of Peripherals / Encyclopedia of Ivica Matic”. In addition, Hrvoje Turkovic presented films from Croatia, a famous copyright film experimental studio in Zagreb between 1967 and 1971. He presented old short films by Lordan Zafranovic, Ivana Martinac, Rajko Grlic, Zoran Tadic etc. And finally guest from Hungary Sebastian (Sebestyén Kodolány) that presented Hungarian program of study of the famous experimental films Balázs Béla Stúdió ( for those who know about Hungarian film: films born in this studio were Maurer Dóra Relatív lengések, Birkás Ákos Tükrözôdés, Hajas Tibor Öndivatbemutató, Szentjóby Tamás Kentaur, Jeney Zoltán Round, Vidovszky László Aldrin). The most interesting was also Balázs Béla Stúdió, films shown at 35 and 16 mm film prints.


The most visited retrospective was an Austrian avant-garde film, and films made by Croatian experimental filmmaker Ivan Ladislav Galeta. And yet just another interesting program called Search and Seizure, assisted and edited by well known Greek experimental filmmaker Vassily Burikas. This was a unique opportunity to see the masterpiece of avant-garde film seen in its original form. The next edition of the festival, under the following programs and the round table discussed the question of medium of film and does film that we know ends?

The festival jury of 2011 consists of French film and video artist Jean Gabriel PÉRIOT who gave a special presentation of his films, Jurij Meden from Slovenia- the Slovenian cinematheque program editor, who gave  lecture on Slovenia's experimental films, and theorist and curator from Serbia Stevan Vukovic, editor of Film forum of the Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade.   "In an agreement with the organizers of the International Festival of New Film and Video, Alternative film, we do not take the winning films to present the whole story, but films that were separated in some way, to be successful in these categories to actually determines the selection of movies. We had the opportunity to choose to ten, but we reduced the number to four films, because those reflect the number of symptom reduction offered movies and cultivation. There is also a slight decline in the quality: the average level of quality films, simple in manner is the profile that corresponds to the festival. It was quite of narrative films that deviate from what would be expected when it comes to a festival that has a range of alternative and experimental cinema under the title of Alternative Film. There are plenty of films that use a dance choreography that is only slightly transferred to film, using the principles of some assembly, but remains the scenic dominant. Therefore, we sought to avoid it to be successful category of experimental films. One success mentioned is a film produced by the Academic Film Center, and the author has already won a prize, but he managed to insist on the experiment and uncompromising work even at the cost of rejecting a spectator. I think he deserves to be mentioned, and we all agreed of that .That's Mane Žuđelović from Montenegro who lives in Belgrade, actively involved in the production and movies. We sought to distinguish movies that are fully developed in an appropriate manner. In many films done we hear very bad sound. Even with DVDs, there were senses of some omissions. These films are completely done properly, so the experiment was largely planned and not accidental, which is very important for experimental films. The movie is called Ray Ban Melt Down, where author uses all available instrumentalities in experimenting: from shocking scenes to strange and different blending assembly, leaving blanks, etc., it is interesting to see. This is a relatively young author.

From the region, there was another person who sent the film that we thought that was interesting. Dalibor Baric from Croatia showed us Pain So Light It Appears as Tickle, a kind of collage of visual, which is actually running as a chopped collage techniques that have been made in an anarchist structure of the movie. You can see some experience animation and apparently engagement in animation, from his hand drawings, which comes from the milieu of underground comic books. This all fits in nicely with this particular author-made music. I hope that we will have him here next year. Maybe with some exhibition to show us the different types of work.

We have two foreign authors, as one competition is region and the other is broader international selection. Nadine Poulain from Germany has done a film with a minimalist structure of the image analysis actually, unfortunately this was not properly presented DVD projection. It is a recorded film technique, and it seems that is a clean and solid work, which is interesting as being one of the genre experimentation. And another work of Canadian author, Allan Brown called “Kinetosis”, film more as a kind of motion sickness, which is very important for a film which deals with found footage through to a braking return and repetition, which added to or below it as very interesting. The game is small and the perception of the viewer, so to say, draws into a story, to a broken and jagged movement. This is something that we have listed for late-paradigmatic work of the festival, according to approaches and quality.

Today we need more filmmakers to be encouraged from the region, to send more material, because if this is a picture of what is produced from alternative and experimental films, then we have an awkward situation. Some of films are a hybrid kind with too strong a narrative line or the elements of fiction and the issue of whether the generally can be considered as experimental films. What is the experiment omission then? " Tells Stevan Vukovic, one of the jury of festival. 

Jean-Gabriel PÉRIOT, the jury member of the International Festival of New Film and Video, Alternative in Belgrade and winner of many awards   makes films exclusively from the archive pictures and documents that are a confront and comment on current politics, historical events, for instance Hiroshima or socio-economic themes, including unemployment or gay rights. His films use archival footage and images from the news or forgotten Internet files. Périot edits the images together to create a story-montage, but the viewer draws her or his own conclusions about the ultimate meaning of it. “The Barbarians,” (2010) is his last film and begins with a slow montage of photo portraits of world leaders and public figures as static images from summit or press conference. As one image replaces the other and the pictures shifts fast, the effect adds up in another layer of photographs that include citizens, weddings picks or school pictures and speeds up the slide show until you cannot keep up. It slows down again in order to reveal the individual images that strike against society and its structures and police vehicles in order to reveal violence of today. Quite original!

   Here is what Jean Gabriel PÉRIOT said to us:

R: Tell us about the competition program, and what criteria and what values ​​you saw in the movies as a jury of this festival?

Jean: "This is complicated answer: it is certainly different to watch film as a regular part of the audience from judging it as the jury. Because if I do not like film I still have to look at it more closely. I like movie theme or project that fits in the technique or fits in everything. Still searching for the answer to a question whether the movie is good or not. I love when the movie is well done technically. If I like the movie, sometimes I can be subjective, but sometimes I like the movie even if it is not a masterpiece. I like the movies to teach me about something "

R: Your future plans with regard to the festival? Also on the future of film production?

Jean: "I'm working on different projects. These projects are different lengths. One project I have started 4 years ago and it is the feature-length documentary based only by archives. However, in some monitored fractions, there are groups of people who became friends with terrorists and now they are making movies. In addition, I just want the material for the film, plus to mention that this will be a political film. However, the question that I will ask why will be why choosing camera rather than weapons. This is very complicated project and all documentation has been around dumped or lost. Memory is lost but everything can be found in the archives. That is what I do. And our producer is collecting money for the project right now. We have just begun the financing process.  Another project is documentary film that will be shooting in jail with the prisoners. This is the first documentary that I will really shoot with real camera. This is new for me. I also work on a new short film and this is an ongoing project."

R: Your impressions of the festival?

Jean: " I liked region area not only Serbia. I know about Ljubljana and Sarajevo. What I liked about this program and films on festival is something that I did not expect. That is cinematography of former Yugoslavia, where I discovered a lot, a lot of movies and video, which is truly breathtaking for me and continues to impress me. I discovered new movies, new authors like Galeta, I love his movies, I really trying to discover new cinematography here. "

A Word or Two About The Competition Films From Selector
"The 2011 edition of Alternative Film/Video Belgrade features its usual wide array of international and regional competitive entries in addition to a variety of special programming such as a retrospective from K3 International Short Film Festival (Austria); a selection of films from jury member Jean-Gabriel Périot; an edited series called Search and Seizure by Vassily Bourikas; a lecture on the history of avant-garde film in Slovenia by jury member Jurij Meden; Gerald Weber presenting the history of avant-garde film in Austria, including works by Peter Kubelka and Kurt Kren; a retrospective of Yugoslav experimental film from the 60s and 70s presented by Hrvoje Turković; and a non-competition sidebar called Alternative Narrative among other unique programs. 
Some of the directors presented in this year’s program will be familiar to the audience, such as the Croatian filmmaker Ana Hušman, whose wonderful film Nogomet/Football deconstructs and rebuilds a famous World Cup broadcast in her trademark fashion.  The cinema of Hušman commonly takes familiar events as subjects and reinvigorates and re-dramatizes them while questioning their very structure and essence.  Also the Serbian filmmaker Zoran Tairović, whose longform carnivalesque masquerades are on full display in the unique film Moment of Movement.  Tairović works at the margins of operatic spectacle and documentary and the center of his focus is often the disenfranchised.   
The international competition opens with the film Ink Bird by Inbar Ben Yishay, further proof of the incredible diversity and strength of Israeli film art.  Ink Bird seems at first glance to be a performance piece staged among nature which then slowly slips into the repetitive loop of dream logic.  A film like Hamletmachine by Agustín Calderón shows that even though mainstream narrative may capture the hearts of many filmmakers in Spain there are engaging alternative works being made by uncompromising auteurs.  Hamletmachine is a super-charged adaptation of the Shakespearean work that assaults the viewer with a diverse series of energetic set pieces.  
 Dystopia St by the British filmmaker David Cave plays like an homage to David Lynch in the morbid darkness and non-sequential logic of its vision and also in its referencing of the mobility symbolized in the titles of two of Lynch’s greatest works: Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive.  The madcap Pigs in Zen by Chinese filmmaker Michael Ziming Ouyang is no less surreal with a heavy dose of humor added.  This film has a stripped-down do-it-yourself aesthetic with some authentic gross-out moments.  However, the film launches into a different atmosphere with the introduction of a wonderful extended animated sequence that postulates the disastrous takeover of the world by pigs. 
Some real treasures can be found in the Alternative Narrative sidebar for the adventurous yet patient viewer.  The Sunset of the Snail by Azad Mohammadi reveals the formative brilliance of what could be the next great film artist to emerge from Iran, that country bursting at the seams with uncompromising and talented directors.  The film tells the silent tale of a lonely man who lives in an auto junkyard and comes across a woman with whom he builds a tentative connection.  The Sunset of the Snail is handled with delicate visual poetry that is just off-kilter enough to fall within the camp of alternative approaches.  The Story of John Mule by Dutch filmmaker Orly Nurany is a hypnotizing and self-reflexive odyssey into the working methods of a film director.  While watching this film one also senses the influence of Lynch, particularly through the fluid blend of song and image that he achieved in a film like Blue Velvet and that characterizes a wonderful scene set in a dive bar in The Story of John Mule.  In this film the viewer is inserted into the position of a creator through subjective techniques and can witness first-hand the alternating beauty and entrapment of the artistic process.  The Story of John Mule is a work that is full of promise and it will be of great interest to see what Nurany achieves next.  
   The unclassifiable Oppression, Dream and Redemption, san i izbavljenje by the Italian director Gabriele Lenzi is one of those films that sticks out amongst the crowd and draws attention to itself.  Characters appear to be disabled and appear to torture each other in the reclusive confines of a forest cabin while speaking only in primitive sounds and gestures.  The entire film is rendered in a monotone color scheme that mirrors the bleakness of their existence and also the fate that awaits them all.  Also presented to viewers in this sidebar are the very interesting films The Mat by Joaquin Gasgonia Palencia and The Bright Side of the War by Bagrat Simonyan, which make us excited and proud to say that alternative film culture is alive and well in the Philippines and Armenia respectively.   
Palencia relies on a fixed camera position from a high angle to narrate a generational family story that takes place entirely on a living room mat.  This view evokes the omniscient vantage point of God but at the same time abstracts meaning and frustrates identification through an elliptical narrative and formalist method.  Simonyan’s film is a stark nightmare about a world on the brink of war and the men who possess the power to send it spiraling out of control.  The film is black and white and suffused with a hazy glow that suspends it in-between oneiric planes.  This is the type of work that gets under your skin and forces you to examine your own situation while simultaneously comtemplating the predicament of those who live in a society where choice is a luxury and fate is a hazardous and diabolical plot.    
     Alternative Film/Video Belgrade, as is customary, will award recognition to a number of works deemed either important successes or explorations by the jury.  The number of recognitions varies from year to year according to the wishes of the jury and there is no festival grand prize.  Awarded film authors receive a residence grant at the Academic Film Center of Student City Cultural Center which comes with production support for realizing a film or video work during their stay.  Audiences attending Alternative Film/Video Belgrade will be treated to an impressive cross-section of unforgettable works from North, South, East, and West in what continues to be the most important showcase for experimental production in the Balkans."  
Greg de Cuir, Jr.Selector/Programmer, Alternative Film/Video Belgrade     

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