A Look at WNDX 2012

Winnipeg’s experimental film festival is just around the corner, boasting six short film programs with work from around the globe, a three-part focus on Beat Cinema, two expanded cinema performances, and a mobile cinema that will traverse Winnipeg’s decadent landscape.

For WNDX, bringing a tonne of experimental films, filmmakers and related events to Winnipeg is nothing new, but there are some changes at the 2012 festival. Most obviously is the fact that “WNDX, Festival of Moving Image” is a new title for the festival (formerly WNDX Festival of Film and Video Art). It aims to be simpler and more inclusive says festival producer Jaimz Asmundson.

By far the most important and deserved change is the fact that the short film programs are now separated by thematic distinctions instead of geographical ones. Instead of a local, regional, national and international short film programs, WNDX is now sporting films from around the world in five new thematic categories. The categories appear to be broken down into structural films, fun formalist films, performance films, experimental documentary films, and experimental narrative films. This is an important change, and one that I think will undoubtedly only benefit the festival and its audience.

Each year WNDX tends to focus their retrospective efforts on an important avant-garde or underground filmmaker, in recent years focusing on George Kuchar and Joyce Wieland. This year, the festival has chosen to focus instead on a genre of experimental filmmaking: Beat Cinema. This three-part series was curated and will be introduced by author and beat guru Jack Sargeant in person! For a great introduction into Beat Cinema check out this article by Jack Sargeant here!

-Aaron Zeghers

The festival kicks off Wednesday night at 9PM with the opening of Situated Cinema at RAW Gallery, a mobile theater project envisioned by Solomon Nagler, Thomas Evans and Craig Rodmore. For those of you wondering how a mobile theater on wheels is going to fit into the RAW Gallery basement suite, I have two words or you that harken back to early Cineflyer days: “RAW” “FUR”

Thursday evening the festival gets underway at 7PM with the short film screening focusing on structural film: “The Memory Palace”. This will be a great program, with local favourites Scott Fitzpatrick, Heidi Phillips, three premiere’s from international filmmakers, and Dan Browne’s meditation on death Memento Mori, which won the WNDX Jury Prize for Best Canadian Work. Also included will be Christine Lucy Latimer’s The Pool, a film vs. digital distortion which was very recently mentioned on Bad Lit by Mike Everleth.

Later on Thursday at 9PM in the Winnipeg Film Group’s Black Lodge is an expanded performance Magic Lantern Ceremony featuring Gehenna, AB by Doreen Girard and Intertidal by Alex MacKenzie, with both artists in attendance. Girard and MacKenzie both use antiquated analog technology to do live film performances with 35mm slide reversal film and 16mm film amongst others.

Friday kicks off at 5 PM at the Cinematheque with “Watching You, Watching Me, Watching You”, a shorts program of experimental performance films. Included is a world premiere from Winnipeg’s Freya Björg Olafson and a regional premiere by Erin Buelow. Cineflyer Sask’s editor Ian Campbell offers a world premiere of his film The Floating World, and with any luck will be there in person as well.

At 7PM, the shorts continue, this time with a formalist sentimentality, in “Do iPhones Dream of Electric People”. Winnipeg dominates this program with it’s specialty, fun formalism, with contributions by Mike Maryniuk, Rhayne Vermette, Clint Enns, and myself, Aaron Zeghers. The main course of this meal will be Jacques Perconte’s 40-minute glitch ode to impressionist painters that won the WNDX Special Jury Prize for Best International Work.

The Friday evening ends with the first two parts of the three-part Beat Cinema retrospective at Cinematheque. This series will be led by Jack Sargeant, author of Naked Lens: Beat Cinema and general know-it-all of the beat movement. As the WNDX program guide describes, in the Beat Cinema programs, Sargeant will combine “works made by beat writers, their friends, affiliates and underground filmmakers”.

“These three screenings offer a rare glimpse into areas such as ‘spontaneous’ cinema, improvised underground film, and beat notions of creativity. Mixing documentary works with experimental films, narrative features and dreamlike escapades; these films highlight the beat relation to cinema,” says the WNDX program, available HERE!

Saturday is a full day of activities, beginning with an Expanded Cinema artist talk at 2PM moderated by Sol Nagler. “The designers of the ‘Situated Cinema’ project, Craig Rodmore and Thomas Evans, as well as visiting expanded cinema performance artists, Alex MacKenzie, Tasman Richardson and Jeremy Bailey, will discuss their work, their processes and what they feel is in store for the future of the
medium.”

At 3PM, the short films begin with “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea” a program of experimental documentaries, including Deco Dawson’s recent TIFF award-winning short on surrealist Jean Benoit, Keep a Modest Head. The program also includes films from Toronto’s 35mm master John Price, Trevor Anderson’s well-received 2010 film High Level Bridge, and Joel Wanek’s film about Winnipeg-south, Heart of Durham.

At 5PM, the short films continue at the Cinematheque with the experimental narrative program, “Learning How to Fall”. Included in this program are new works from Darryl Nepinak, Murray Toews, WNDX favourite Clark Ferguson, and Matthew Rankin’s new film Tabula Rasa.

The evening then shifts to Negative Space, for a 9PM expanded cinema three-some, “Cathode Ray Remission”. Winnipeg’s Fletcher Pratt will experiment with audio/video synthesizers, followed by performance artist Jeremy Bailey (Ontario) and his bold new software that will save art, The Future of Creativity. Another WNDX favourite Tasman Richardson will close out the night with an installation of 15 seizuring televisions that “target the audience like a paparazzi firing squad”.

The night will end in style and possible debauchery with an “award ceremony”, aka. PARTY! for anyone who has a WNDX pass, ticket stub or convincing pleads to the door person.

The final day of the festival, Sunday begins with a Beat Cinema Brunch and Lecture by Jack Sargeant at 1PM at Mondragon.

At 3PM at the Cinematheque on Sunday is Films By Prairie Women Filmmakers, as curated by Cecilia Araneda. This program features mostly work from before 2007 by important prairie female filmmakers, including Winnipeg’s own Carole O’Brien, Paula Kelly, Coral Aiken and Danishka Esterhazy, and Saskatchewan’s Sarah Abbott and Dianne Ouellette. The program is meant to be a kind of vaguely defined retrospective of “women directors who emerged on the prairies before the digital age [and have] never truly been properly acknowledged,” as written in the program guide. While the goal to review and celebrate works by prairie women is undoubtedly important, one might wonder how films from 2009 and 2011 fit into this pre-digital retrospective category. Questions also come to mind as to why some of Winnipeg’s most influential female experimental filmmakers who are still hard at work today are not included in this program, while their contemporaries that have since abandoned experimental tendencies are included.

The grand finale of WNDX is once again the heralded One Take Super 8 event at the Gas Station Theater, as championed by the effervescent Alex Rogalski. Approximately 35 brand new films from Winnipeg filmmakers will premiere at this event, each one shot in sequence on a roll of Super 8, to be screened in the theater for the very first time!

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~ by cineflyer on September 25, 2012.

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