The masses aren't exactly clamoring for more experimental films. Not only is there exactly zero market for avant-garde film-making in the mainstream, but there aren't even too many underground screenings of them, and even fewer people devote their careers to making them. Even so, says John Hartman, director of Indie Film Underground, every filmmaker has a couple of experimental pieces in the back-catalog. "If you go to film school, you always have one or two assignments to make an experimental film," he asserts, "so they all have a couple of them hanging around. And people want to show them, because there just aren't a lot of venues that focus on the avant-garde." That, Hartman says, is where IFU comes in.
It's also, because of that commonality, a great way to bring filmmakers together. "There's one thing that a lot of filmmakers have in common, and that's experimental films," he says. "There's a lot of different filmmaking camps out there, and in my opinion, bringing filmmakers together to share experimental work is a great way to bridge that gap between filmmaking camps."
About 20 films will screen tonight, but the one Hartman is currently most excited about is one called "Pillow Girl" from Ronnie Cramer, "one of the most popular experimentalists that I know. 'Pillow Girl focuses on morphing images that are taken from old comic books, adult books of a romantic or sexually explicit nature, like Man's Revenge or Sexy Detective -- these really raunchy, sexy, freaky comic books, basically porno, but from the '40s and '50s. Stuff like Bike Chicks, Revenge of the Long Dick, whatever. So the covers of these books will have like an illustration of a bunch of bikers around a woman tied to a tree, and then that'll morph into a cover with a woman tied to a bed, and so on, and it's absolutely mesmerizing."
Which is more than a little confusing, to be certain. There's of course no trailer of this film anywhere in existence, but there is this video of the "Pillow Girl" being discussed, which shows a few clips from it, just to give you an idea of what it looks like:
A little long, you say, moderator lady? Perhaps. We've never seen it personally, but you can't exactly expect Jerry Bruckheimer-style entertainment from experimental film. In fact, you can't really know what to expect at all from experimental film -- but it'll nevertheless be hard to go wrong with IFU, because it's free. Also there will be free food. And beers. Plus, says Hartman, there's the added bonus that "In addition to DVD projections, we also screen what is by today's standards very rare: Super 8 films on a Super 8 projector." Like in that awesome Nic Cage movie about the... well, we're guessing not like that at all, actually.
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As the "III" in the title suggests, this will be IFU's third run -- it was originally intended to run tri-annually, but Hartman recently decided to switch to bi-annual screenings, because "There are a limited amount of avant-garde films out there," he says -- especially true considering the emphasis at IFU is on local filmmakers. "I just don't want the well to dry up too fast."
Which means that you probably won't get another chance to see anything like this for another six months, so get on it. IFU starts at 8 p.m. tonight at the Dikeou Collection Art Gallery.