Every aspect of film is always about more than just film

This is a festival of experimental, artists' film1. It concerns film as a way of thinking2 (about the world). It may end up being: a series of variously interesting, intense, challenging, thoughtful events; a kind of convivial social space. 

“Why, sometimes, do images begin to tremble?”
There’s a sequence in Chris Marker’s film A Grin Without a Cat that intercuts a series of blurred and jittery images shot during May ’68 in Paris, with the words “Why, sometimes, do images begin to tremble?”  Later, we learn that the hands of the camera operators were unconsciously shaking: they produced wavering images as a direct index of the feelings provoked by a momentous episode in history3
“We must make films politically”
The first two lines of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1970 manifesto What is to be done? state: 
1. We must make political films.  
2. We must make films politically. 
It goes on: these ways of making film are at odds with each other.  Point 1 – idealistic; point 2 – truly, committedly political4.  So really: what needs to be done is for artists to make films in which every decision they take (how and what to shoot, how to edit, how to collaborate, how and where to screen…) is informed by, or informs their political, philosophical position. Or, more succinctly: “a tracking shot is a moral issue”. 
“The political film isn't simply a teaching film. It shows us the learning process itself.”5  
And that’s the difference, right?  Journalism points out something about the world, and that’s useful.  But an artist also has the responsibility of thinking about how things are pointed out, and why; of thinking about what is revealed (consciously for Godard, or subconsciously in those unsteady shots of May 68’ in Marker’s film) in the way images are made.  Art can be a process where we don’t pretend to know everything, but do take decisions about how we want to learn.
A Film is a Statement
So in being about all of the above: this is a cross between a festival, magazine and discussion about experimental, artists’ films.  Some of the films might not look like films (they might be more like performances, or lectures, or books, or databases).  Some things might ask you to think about what a film is, or what it is for.  All of them, in interesting ways, point to ideas much bigger than film, while dealing with very real subjects filmically.  Everything will be introduced: by the filmmaker, or artist, or a critic or someone who will talk about it, very often with you.  And it’s meant to be informed, but informal: there will be plenty of room for just hanging out, chatting, generally thinking together.

Arika used to organize INSTAL and Kill Your Timid Notion, two of the UK’s leading experimental music and/ or film festivals.  This year we’re replacing them with a kind of expanded festival, in three weekend-long Episodes, spread over 10 weeks.  Each episode will be just as long as INSTAL or KYTN was, but it’ll have more room: more space for challenging performances, screenings and events, and for the ideas they propose. Check out the upcoming Episode 2 and Episode 3.

  • 1. For expediency's sake, we're just going to be saying 'film', if that's OK, as a kind of shorthand to also include: artists' moving image, art-house cinema, experimental film, video making...etc and so on..and which could easily also be used to describe different parts of the festival.
  • 2. Maybe you could say: film is a kind of non-discursive thought, or: film can produce a kind of cognitive experience…
  • 3. As well as the film, you’re hereby invited to check out Chris Marker: Memories of the Future by Catherine Lupton, which we were (obviously) skimming and lifting from while thinking about what to write here.
  • 4. Unquestionably, it’s more complicated than that; we’re short on space.  Read the whole thing.
  • 5. Be apprised, we don’t often come up with such well-turned concepts ourselves; that’s a quote from Dmitry Vilensky from Chto Delat?. Here’s the whole essay.