exf f. is a festival dedicated to experimental and avant-garde film in all its diversity, both historical and contemporary. for four days, we would like to create a space in which various cinematic works in their specific medialities and materialities are brought into focus as an independent art form. films of this kind have a difficult time in regular cinema operations. they often “fall between stools” in a film landscape that focuses on feature films and documentaries as well as in the art world and there are few opportunities to experience them as part of an expanded, lively cinema culture. our program will include various analog formats, from super 8 to 16mm and 35mm, as well as digital productions and digital copies of restored films.
a big thanks to our sponsors, the HessenFilm und Medien GmbH, the Kulturamt of the City of Frankfurt, the AStA of the Goethe University Frankfurt as well as our cooperation partner the Kinothek Asta Nielsen e. V., without whose support this festival would not be possible.
In many ways, this year‘s edition of exf f. builds on and extends the lines of thought outlined last year: once again, it is the question of collaboration, of working together, that is at the heart of many films and programs of this year’s festival. The course of the individual programs furthermore indicates a shared attention and care in the work with the film and its material. This question of working together and caring for the materiality of film is articulated in different facets.
An important part of our programs is dedicated to filmmakers whose lives and practices have been marked by the intimate and intense collaboration with other filmmakers and artists. Robert Beavers met his longtime partner and filmmaking mentor Gregory J. Markopoulos in New York. In 1967 they left the United States together for Europe where they would live (in Greece, Belgium, Germany, England and Switzerland), and work together until Markopoulos’ death in 1992. It was in this context that many of the works of Beavers’ extensive 17 film-cycle My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure were filmed. Our three programs dedicated to Beavers include a selection from this “nomadic” period as well as more recent films, shot in Massachusetts, New York, Switzerland and Berlin, where he has lived with the filmmaker Ute Aurand since 2011. We look forward to welcoming Beavers in Frankfurt in September, where he will be present at all programs for introductions and talks.
Our programs dedicated to Amy Halpern will unfortunately be a celebration in the form of an homage. Halpern (1953-2022) was a filmmaker, curator, cinematographer, (uncontracted) educator and typist (for a Women’s magazine), whose experimental films were characterized by “tenderness, vitality and sensuousness grace”, to quote Arindam Sen, the curator of the two-part tribute. Throughout her life, Halpern has devoted herself tirelessly towards the promotion and appreciation of experimental cinema – as a founding member of The Collective for Living Cinema, and as a key figure of American alternative filmmaking in her own right, whose works were always marked by her symbiocenic perception of the world “where everyday objects, plants, landscapes, animals and humans coexist in their characteristic rhythms and graceful physicality”. Until her untimely death in 2022, Halpern's efforts and work went largely unnoticed and unappreciated. We hope that this tribute can remedy that fact, combat the forgetting and reveal her work to a wider audience.
Much of the same can be said of this year’s thematic program between women. british women filmmakers in 1990s london. Curated by Sarah Pucill and Karola Gramann, the program highlights films from the 90s by UK artists in London, such as Anna Thew, Tina Keane, Ruth Novaczek and Lis Rhodes, and especially Sandra Lahire, Pucill’s mentor and later on partner, who sadly passed away in 2001. Of her selection, Pucill writes:
The thematics of a feminist and queer gaze connects many of the films and the filmmakers whose work and lives intersected. Additionally central to the significance of the films, is a concern with form where, as experimental post structuralists, conventional filmmaking is not only broken down but is re-built into new modes of expression that privilege a re-invention of film language, a letting loose of the austerity of pure Structuralist filmmaking that dominated the London scene in 70s. Post structuralist film wished instead to luxuriate in visual seduction, word and story with abstracted layers, not instead of. Almost all these films were made on celluloid 16mm.
Questions of the gaze and feminist engagement are central to our two dialogical programs in this year’s edition. absis / duras, is the result of research undertaken by the program’s curator, Judit Naranjo Ribó, in order to restitute the contributions of female filmmakers to the history of French experimental and underground cinema. in conversation: viktoria schmid/eva giolo presents a conversation between the filmmakers and artists Viktoria Schmid and Eva Giolo, bringing together two bodies of work that, despite their differences, have a multitude of resonances and points of contact, thus demonstrating how diverse the contemporary engagement with analog filmmaking can be. Thus, a different kind of dialogue is staged, taking place between the programs, as different generations and traditions of experimental and alternative filmmaking are put into constellation throughout the four days of the festival. What connects these various filmmakers is their interest in working with: working with entities (human or not), places, spaces and of course, and interest in working with the different techniques and material conditions and possibilities of analogue filmmaking.
It is this intense “fascination for the handmade aspect (developing, editing, printing) of working with film material” that characterizes the practice of Madrid-based filmmaker Álvaro Feldman. In the Super 8- and 16-mm works presented at exf f., Feldman explores the specific modalities of projection and perception opened up by the material conditions of both the analogue film material as well as of the projection dispositif. This conception of filmmaking of course has its origins in the structuralist and materialist experimentations of the 60s and early 70s, conducted by various key personalities of experimental cinema, in the United States, the UK and Germany respectively. One of the most emblematic artistic monuments of this historic moment will be presented at exf f.: Anthony McCall’s “film-sculpture” Line Describing a Cone, with which we will close out this year’s edition.
Materiality is equally the issue at heart of this year’s frankfurter formen-program, which will take place at the Städelschule. Theo Thiesmeier studied filmmaking in the 1980s, with Peter Kubelka at the Städelschule and Robert Breer and P. Adams Sitney in New York. Both his early Super 8 and his later 16 mm films were born out of the specific constraints of the material conditions of the recording devices. The monographic presentation of Thiesmeier’s films will be preceded by the world premieres of two recent Super 8 works by James Edmonds and Gunter Deller.
Finally, we would like to thank all of the artists, venues and those with whom we worked together to make this year’s edition of exf f. possible: The whole Pupille team, Natascha Gikas and Andreas Beilharz at the DFF and Yasmil Raymond, Nina Queissner, Martina Cooper and Teresa Heinzelmann at Städelschule.
We would equally like to thank Julia Rosenstock for designing the catalog, Luisa Mielke for designing the poster and Simon Bugert for designing the website.
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team: martin klein, larissa krampert, björn schmitt