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Experimental Docs

The question of how to build a more open and equitable film festival is an old and still pressing concern. Ideally, there will be a plurality of answers and the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival may be one of them. Its 2024 edition, which ran 7–10 March, felt like a festival whose program was not only deeply engaged with larger political struggles, but also open and malleable in a way that many festivals claim but rarely enact in the relations underpinning the screenings.
Imagine the hallways of Cornell University, a quiet, comfortable campus in upstate New York, in the mid-1970s. Now imagine, in one of the Ivy League rooms, a Marxist reading group that brings together students and professors from different generations, ethnicities, and countries. They are united by an urgency to make revolutionary art and contribute to the dismantling of imperialist capitalism. This is the origin story of the Victor Jara Collective, a coalition of artists and activists named after the revolutionary Chilean musician assassinated during the Pinochet regime.
Millennium Film Workshop is a cinema and gallery space dedicated to showcasing avant-garde, experimental, and noncommercial films and moving images
In her more than two dozen films, Deborah Stratman has explored various ways in which history, science, ideas, locations, and psyches (both individual
A heartfelt departure from the prison life documentaries that have become so ubiquitous in recent years, Tana Gilbert’s Malqueridas takes a novel approach to this thorny topic through a most unusual lens. Comprised solely of clandestinely shot cellphone footage—in its original vertical format—from inside a Santiago women’s prison by incarcerated mothers, the film is narrated by “Karina,” a mom who spent six years behind bars. In the film, she voices the experience of and for the collective whole, specifically the 20 or so women who participated in “extensive conversations” during the film’s research phase.
Featuring a strong relationship to essayistic, nonfiction filmmaking and artists’ moving images, the Open City Documentary Festival has carved a
In Hello Dankness, the opening scenes of Joe Dante’s 1989 film The ’Burbs play out as usual—except Tom Hanks’s character has a “Bernie 2016” sign in his yard, while his neighbor has GOP elephant stickers on his windows. Annette Bening’s character from American Beauty (1999) drives by, an “I’m With Her” bumper sticker on her van. Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World (1992) are now Donald Trump supporters rather than harmless, rock-loving goofballs. Trump’s election hits this world as a literal cataclysm, rendered via apocalyptic scenes from the apocalypse comedy This Is the End. These characters and many more from myriad film and television sources—ranging from Napoleon Dynamite to Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (2010) sometimes crossing over with his character from Zombieland (2009)—collectively experience the 2016 election, Trump’s presidency, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the chaotic 2020 election.
Storytelling, and its advancements, has mostly been in the pursuit of making things seem more and more real, to immerse the listener in an experience
Founded in 2021, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Prismatic Ground is a glimmer of hope for experimental nonfiction cinema in a tumultuous period. Inney
In 2015, the Sundance Institute launched a new initiative to support “inventive artistic practice” in documentary called Art of Nonfiction. After