The Cinematic Underground: An Introduction to the World of Experimental Film

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Cinephiles are those people who have created an obsession out of their love for film. They love where the movies take them so much that fictional worlds have become permanent fixtures of their realities.

But I believe there’s more that connects cinephiles than just a love of film. They love learning. They love art. They value diversity and stories from all areas of life. They aim to have a casual knowledge of the technical side of filmmaking.

That is why I’ve decided to write a little about the most overlooked group of cinematic geniuses: filmmakers of the avant-garde and experimental. In the last year, I’ve been shocked to find how much deep the jungles of the film world truly are. There are whole careers and plenty of masterpieces that have gone unnoticed by the majority of audiences for decades.

For film buffs, this is the best surprise. It turns out a cinephile’s self-education doesn’t have to end with discovering Bela Tarr’s 7-hour Satantango or Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day or Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 14-part series, Berlin Alexanderplatz.

I used to imagine that there were stages of cinephiliac discovery that occurred more or less in a certain order: Hollywood cinema, independent cinema, European auteur cinema, world cinema. I was foolish to think I knew it all. As I’m learning about that next, most boundary-pushing category of film, the experimental, I hope you decide you would like to learn as well.

The first entry features a biopic that focuses solely on the music of Johannes Sebastian Bach. My introduction to The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach is up now! Check out the Cinematic Underground page for more info on the filmmakers, Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet.

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4 responses to “The Cinematic Underground: An Introduction to the World of Experimental Film

  1. I’ve recently been watching more avant-garde films myself. The other week I saw several shorts including Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and Willard Maas and Marie Menken’s Geography of the Body. I’d recommend catching them if you haven’t seen either.

    • I have yet to see Geography of the Body, but I have seen Meshes of the Afternoon. I’m hoping to write about that one eventually, because that’s an important one that really really fascinates me.

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