Introduction 2004 Xavier Garcia Bardon

An experimental film does not regard cinema from its usages, but from its powers. It endeavours to evoke, to reveal and to renew them; but at the same time it contradicts, blocks and renders them limitless[1].
Events like the Independent Film Show in Naples are extremely rare because they give the experimental cinema, in all its radicalism, the attention that it so scrupulously deserves. The festival is exclusively dedicated to cinematographic experimentation: its history, its traditions, its breakaway movements, its classics, its cursed, lost and found films and, of course, its new ideas, its living marrow. This atypical event has reached its fourth year. The principle is simple: four days, four shows, four programmes. There are numerous discoveries, and some revived perspectives. This is a festival that takes its time to show and offers the opportunity of seeing.
Brainchild of the filmmaker and curator Masha Godovannaya, the programme New Morning proposes films by Moira Tierney, Yevgeniy Yufit and Godovannaya herself. An affirmation of cinema as a practice open to reality, freedom of improvisation, and an assertion of chance as a creative engine; these could be the key words that define the work of these three filmmakers. Masha Godovannaya is Russian and Moira Tierney is Irish. They met in New York at the Anthology Film Archives (a cinema collection devoted to experimental film) where Godovannaya worked as a researcher and curator, and Tierney as an archivist and projectionist. For them experimental film was a rallying point, and the Underground a model of life and cinema[2].
Filmmaker, critic, co-founder of the Anthology and doyen of the Underground, Jonas Mekas appears here as a tutelary figure. Coming from Russia as Masha Godovannaya, Yevgeniy Yufit is a filmmaker, painter, photographer, and also the founder of necrorealism and of the first independent studio in Russia, Mzhalala Film. Since 1985, this organization has brought together supporters of experimentation in various artistic disciplines. Yufit is also an adept of improvisation. He places his film work under the influence of the 1920's avant-garde, surrealism and expressionism.
The importance of the avant-garde is equally perceptible in the programme that Piero Pala has dedicated to Italian experimental cinema from the 1930s up to the present day, from the first steps of Futurist cinema to contemporary experimentation. This is a secret history, one little known, in which a few precursors have won a cult status. Even though invisible and in some cases lost, these films live on and still are a source of inspiration. Dedicated to a visionary cinema that is flexible and inventive, Enigmatico Stilnovo - From Speed to Fragment follows a double tradition. A heritage that comes from futurism, but also from the subterranean and secret source of Giordano Bruno, cited by Harry Smith as an unrecognised precursor of cinema. A hidden legacy that implies a capacity for reinvention and an enlarged conception of the cinema. As the definition/programme, developed by the Cinematografia futurista manifesto in 1916, recalls: "Cinematography is an art in itself [...] It is necessary to free cinematography as a means of expression to make it the ideal tool for a new art [...] The polyexpressive symphony [...]". It was this kind of cinema, free, radical, perpetually renewing itself, which the Cooperativa Cinema Indipendente italiano defended. This association was founded in Naples at the end of the 1960's in the wake of the New York Film-Makers' Cooperative whose work in spreading experimental films and ideas was essential in its time. This is the cinema, which the new Italian artists chosen by Piero Pala are still defending with their works on film or video.
Under the title Let's get tested, Astria Suparak, a young American curator, has selected a few recent productions showing new approaches, both on the aesthetic level, as well as in their relationship with the medium. From different origins and destinations (film, video, music video, net animations, cd-rom or dvd), and made using a wide range of different techniques, these works are the fruit of the same original attitude, where obsolete material, images of the past and the latest developments in digital editing are reinvented with freshness and spontaneity. Their creators freely evolve between performance, writing, music and the various forms of visual arts with evident affinity for pop culture, video games and a particular attachment to the notions of amateurism and entertainment (close to the aesthetic of punk collage in a fruity version, the American Paper Rad collective's animation Welcome to my homey page is exemplary of this). Put together with jubilation by Astria Suparak, and with special attention paid to the ludic dimension, these films show that cinema does not necessarily have to be reduced to its devices, and that it is already spread out where it is not expected.
It is both easier and more difficult for me to describe the programme Piruleta by the duo Santi & Saule, because I am one of its members. Briefly, I will point out its main features. Inspired by the cyclical movement of Super 8 reels and vinyl records, Piruleta[3] evokes coloured shapes and lyrical loops, but also the intimacy of amateur film. The programme consists of two performances for several projectors and turntables and an installation made with the help of Paolo Simoni and the film archive of the Home Movies association. Based on a certain idea of lyricism, Piruleta is a return to fragile and "out of date" media. Their characteristics, flaws and qualities always have a particularly interesting potential for creation.
In Lido (2000-2003), for instance, (a study in speed and colour in triple projection, somewhere between scientific film and poetic abstraction) the flashing images of plants and insects are contrasted with romantic vinyl loops and the accidents related to the usury of the records. These are distorted musical fragments taken from their original contexts to constitute new compositions. Projectors and turntables are manipulated in real time, slowed down, sped up, used as tools for a film material that in every performance determines a new formulation.
Improvised shapes, secret correspondences, ludic approaches, and personal re-inventions of the machinery: the parallel history of experimental cinema is that of the free forms projected here...

Xavier Garcia Bardon

[1] Nicole Brenez, L'Atlantide, in Jeune, dure et pure! Une histoire du cinéma d'avant-garde et expérimental en France, directed by Nicole Brenez and Christian Lebrat, Paris, Cinémathèque française - Mazzotta, 2001, p. 17.
[2] New York Underground is also the title of a film by Masha Godovannaya.
[3] In Spanish, piruleta is the name for a spiral-shaped lollipop.