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Manifesto /english version
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Experimental ? It’s not my "type" !
Expérimental ? C'est pas mon "genre" !
english version

gender/


Over the past few years we have witnessed an increase of visibility of so-called experimental or different cinema within institutions. The rare festivals, cinematheques and museums that supported it are now joined by screening venues and programmers who previously ignored it. Films with no budget, created entirely on the fringes of established production circuits, are shown in international festivals such as Berlin, Locarno and Venice... Experimental cinema is being taught more and more in universities and students are discovering films that were previously unknown, forbidden or ridiculed. The work of those who have been trying for thirty years to make it known is finally bearing its fruits. When someone now asks a filmmaker: "What kind of films do you make?," experimental comes third, after fiction and documentary. Even festival submission forms now include a box marked "experimental" under the section Genre. And today, the French National Center of Cinematography has added the term to the triad "fiction, documentary, animation" in its grant proposal form for short films.


In light of this evolution, we refuse that experimental cinema be considered simply an additional "type" or "genre" within industrial cinema. The formal parameters should not obscure the fact that experimental film consists of a global conception of cinema, with its own systems of production, distribution and exhibition. It would be a mistake to reduce experimental cinema to merely a particular esthetic or a series of more surprising or less spectacular images. From one end of the chain to the other, experimental cinema is a practice, an economy and a commitment in itself. Since the 1960s, an alternative network of screening venues (authentically alternative) has developed around distribution cooperatives, screening films for the most part in squats, abandoned factories, self-managed art spaces and ad hoc screening rooms, out in the open air or hidden deep in basements. At times, these exhibitors work with more established spaces during thematic or regular programming: arthouse movie theaters, museums, galaries, festivals, etc... Such incursions have shown for a long time now that this cinema was not condemned to remain an eternal secret.


True, the recent infatuation for experimental cinema corresponds to a production that increased dramatically during the 1990s with more and more frequent screenings that followed, suddenly widening the audience in question. Still, no true recognition ever took place on behalf of institutions. Constantly tossed back and forth between plastic arts and cinema, it is on the fringe where filmmakers have continued to produce films and form an incredibly dynamic yet incredibly fragile network. Today, at a time when a narrow tip of the government agencies contributing to showing such films defends them, it would be paradoxical that those agencies which in fact have the task of helping with production continue to ignore their existence. A certain recognition is both inevitable and necessary. The old strategie of the Underground – to mine away galleries down below until the surface above collapses – can no longer hold: we are already discovered. But as inevitable and necessary as it is, such recognition must be handled with care. It must rely upon existing groups and respect their existing channels of screening and distribution. This network must not be brutally institutionalized, but rather be supported within its natural ecology.


The worse would be to freeze experimental cinema as a heritage; its simple stereotyping as a "genre" would be like mummifying it on credit. As soon as experimental cinema comes out of its splendid isolation, we must lay a foundation capable of resisting annexation by something more powerful than itself, so that it can make its voice heard and invent new forms and new ways of reaching an audience and so that its critical position may remain in stride with the world around it. Times have changed; experimental cinema should come out of its shell and engage in productive dialogs with other more recent audiovisual practices: video arts, public access television, fringe documentary and other forms of experimental audiovisual production in general.


In this frame of mind and given the fact that there is no institutional representive capable of taking into account as a whole, nor with sufficient acuteness, the specific field of creation in which we are the actors, we publicly propose the following good ideas :

(please, see the french version for content of each paragraph) :







PRODUCTION


1. Recognize that film producers can also be non-profit organizations.

2. Support collective production cooperatives.

3. Allow access to grants for individual projects.

4. Form competent committees for this domain.

5. Return the G.R.E.C. to film experimentation, or let the Athenians reach their goals.





POST-PRODUCTION

6. Develop support for post-production at the work-print stage.





DISTRIBUTION

7. Reinforce support to the heart of the network : the distribution cooperatives.




PROMOTION

8. Insure the promotion of experimental cinema made in France.






EXHIBITION


9. Heighten awareness within regional contemporary art centers to the existence as well as to the specificities of experimental cinema.

10. Increase ten-fold the authorizations for non-commercial screenings in theaters classified in France as "art house" or "non-commercial.".





POST-SCRIPTUM


11. In case we need some cash...


Provinces – Paris – Pantin, November 16, 2002

Ad libitum

Atelier de production, restauration Cras

A.F.E.A.

Diffusion, édition Avignon
Art toung ! / Le 102
Diffusion Grenoble
A.S.T.A.R.T.I. jadis mentionné ici comme auteur de ce texte, à demandé à être retiré de cette liste (décembre 2003)
   
Atelier MTK
Atelier de production Grenoble
Braquage
Diffusion Paris
Chercheurs d'Ombres / Ethnicolor
Diffusion Bordeaux

Cinédif / Festival des cinémas différents de Paris

Diffusion, festival Paris
Cinémas 93
Difusion Seine-St-Denis
Collectif Jeune Cinéma
Distribution Paris
Côté Court
Festival Pantin
EDA
Production, édition Paris
Élu par cette crapule
Diffusion Le Havre
Etna
Atelier de production Paris

Exploding

Revue Paris
Icare
Distribution Paris
L'Abominable
Atelier de production Asnières / S.
Les Inattendus
Diffusion, festival Lyon
Les Productions Aléatoires
Production Paris
Light Cone
Distribution Paris
Mire
Atelier de production, diffusion Nantes
Paris-Expérimental
Édition, diffusion Paris
Re:voir
Édition vidéo, diffusion Paris
Sans Canal Fixe
Production associative, diffusion Tours

SuperOttoMonAmour

Atelier de production, diffusion Torino
XHX
Diffusion Marseille
Work in Progress
Diffusion Tours
www.cineastes.net
Site internet  

Zebra Lab

Atelier de production Genève





FILMMAKERS! PROGAMMERS! VIEWERS!
ORGANIZATIONS IN PRODUCTION, PROMOTION AND DISTRIBUTION,
SCREENING VENUES OF EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA,
EXPERIMENTAL FORMS OF AUDIO-VISUAL ART IN GENERAL, AND BEYOND!
SUPPORT OUR INITIATIVE BY SIGNING OUR MANIFESTO, EITHER BY E-MAIL

OR BY SNAIL MAIL AT :
MANIFESTE – 17 rue Paul Bellamy, 44000 Nantes, FRANCE

THE CURRENT LIST OF SIGNATURES MAY BE CONSULTED AT :
http://www.cineastes.net/manifeste-sign.html





— Translation : Pip Chodorov
 



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17 rue Paul Bellamy
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FRANCE

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(When signing, please include : name or organization, activity, city and/or country, web link)