EXPRMNTL, the Ghosts of Knokke-Le-Zoute

Homage to a unique event. EXPRMNTL was a festival for experimental film (five editions between 1949 and 1974) where the Underground film reached Europe and special encounters were evoked, happenings took place and scandals were created.

Curated by Xavier Garcia Bardon

EXPRMNTL is the most important event that has ever been organised for experimental cinema. This amazing festival (five editions between 1949 and 1974), organized in Knokke-le-Zoute in an empty casino between Christmas and New Year, was a key place for experimental film in the critical period of its development, and actually almost the only meeting point for avant-garde filmmakers for years, the place where experimental movements connected.

But EXPRMNTL was way more than that: it remains a fascinating experience in the history of underground culture. As Jacques Ledoux, its founder and director (who was also the director of the Royal Belgian Film Archive) said : ‘The greatness of Knokke lies in its bringing face to face, not only film makers, but novelists, theatre people, painters, et al. There are not only screenings, but discussions, meetings; it is that which gives Knokke its true interest’. To connect people and ideas, to provoke unexpected meetings (with also had an important social and political aspect), was the main project behind EXPRMNTL.

In this isolated place, out of the world, people met, films were screened, happenings happened and scandals broke out: this is where Underground film came to Europe, where Jean-Luc Godard saw Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures, secretly shown in a hotel room; where Yoko Ono did a naked performance with Jean-Jacques Lebel; where German students of the Students for a Democratic Society (including Holger Meins, future member of the Rote Armee Fraktion) demonstrated against experimental cinema. EXPRMNTL was an experiment in itself.

This programme featuring film screenings, talks and live performances will discuss the history and importance of the festival and will try to bring back some of its spirit.

Screening of the following films:
The Big Shave (Martin Scorsese, USA, 1967, 6’)
Self Obliteration (Jud Yalkut & Yayoi Kusama, USA, 1967, 24’)
Talk Mr Bard (John Latham, UK, 1968, sound, colour, 7’)
Speak (John Latham, UK, 1968-69, 11’)
Continuous Sound and Image Moments (Jeffrey Shaw, Tjebbe van Tijen, Willem Breuker, 1966, 5' loop)
Joan of Arc (Piero Heliczer, USA, 1967, 12’)
Il mostro verde (Tonino de Bernardi & Paolo Menzio, Italy, 1967, 28’)
Woton's Wake (Brian de Palma, USA, 1963, 27')
21/87 (Arthur Lipsett, Canada, 1963, 11')
Dimanche (Edmond Bernhard, Belgium, 1963, 20’)
Pêche de nuit (Henri Chopin, Tjerk Wicky, Luc Peire - France, Switzerland, Belgium,1963, 12’)
Body Music 1 (Charlemagne Palestine, USA/Italy, 1973, 13’)
Combat de Boxe (Charles Dekeukeleire, Belgium, 1927, 7’30’’)
Adebar (Peter Kubelka, Austria, 1957, 2’)
FM/TRCS (Colen Fitzgibbon, USA, 1974, 11')
VW Vitesses-Women (Claudine Eizykman, France, 1969-74, 36’)
Le Vampire de la Cinémathèque (Roland Lethem, Belgium, 1971, 24’)

Alternated with:
- talks and discussions with Jud Yalkut, Roland Lethem, Charlemagne Palestine, Tonino de Bernardi, Tjebbe Van Tijen and Theo Botschuijver (former members of the Event Structure Research Group / Sigma Projects), and more.
- the screening of EXPRMNTL rare footage and documents, including Jud Yalkut's never seen before 8mm footage from EXPRMNTL 4 (1967), documents about Movie Movie (an expanded cinema performance with a big dynamic inflatable structure created for the festival in 1967 by the Event Structure Research Group / Sigma Projects, also involving the band Musica Elettronica Viva), and more.
- live performances by Charlemagne Palestine (USA), Keith Rowe (UK), and two live soundtracks by Stellar Om Source (NL) and Danielle Lemaire (NL) on Le Vampire de la Cinémathèque (Roland Lethem, Belgium, 1971, 24').

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