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dernière mise à jour : le 13/08/03
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Manifeste (version française)
Manifesto (versione italiana)
Manifesto (versión española)
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Manifesto in word (.rtf)
? Its not my "type" !
Expérimental ? C'est pas mon "genre"
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) :
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.
6. Develop support for post-production at the work-print stage.
Reinforce support to the heart of the network : the distribution cooperatives.
8. Insure the promotion of experimental cinema made in France.
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.".
11. In case we need some cash...