Basement Films and the UNM Department of Cinematic Arts present Experiments in Cinema v6.3, a festival that brings the international cinematic community to New Mexico to show 50 films in five days. Experiments in Cinema is Wednesday, April 13-Sunday, April 17, at venues around Albuquerque. Most events are free.
"We're interested in cinema as an art form, as a way … to inspire a new generation of filmmakers to make films no one ever dreamed possible," said Bryan Konefsky, cinematic arts lecturer, artistic director of Experiments in Cinema, and president, Basement Films.
Experimental filmmakers stretch the boundaries of what film can do. A western or science fiction film, for example, is created in the context of an established rubric, Konefsky said. By definition, experimental film doesn't follow any formula.
A filmmaker might experiment with form, content or both. "If you take that word ‘experiment' – it's all about that," Konefsky said. "It's a dynamic form that's constantly changing."
He said one thing that sets Experiments in Cinema apart is that it has no charge for international submissions and low fees for national submissions, making the festival more accessible to filmmakers. The program Wednesday, April 13-Saturday, April 16, 6-10 p.m. and Sunday, April 17, noon-4 p.m. features films from Ghana, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Columbia, Finland, Germany, Singapore and other nations.
Three special presentations cap the festival: Jeanne Liotta and Lisa Gill on Friday, April 15, 6-10 p.m. at the UNM Southwest Film Center; Nina Fonoroff on Saturday, April 16, 6-10 p.m. at the Guild Cinema; and Lee Anna Mariglia from Burning Man on Sunday, April 17, noon-4 p.m.
The festival also features free filmmaking workshops.
Encouraging young filmmakers is an integral part of the festival. Experiments in Cinema opened on April 3 at the Kimo Theatre with a regional youth program.
In addition to the festival, Basement Films and the Department of Cinematic Arts do outreach year-round to middle and high schools and community centers. Doing outreach helps UNM students hone their public speaking skills, Konefsky said.
Working on Experiments in Cinema through a 400-level course gives students a chance to explore film and arts festival organizing as a potential career path. They get to meet filmmakers and gain experience in grant writing, adjudication of films, promotion and advertising, print and Web design, and other aspects of organizing an international festival.
Konefsky said students sometimes develop relationships with filmmakers they meet through the festival leading to mentorships and jobs. Students also make connections by attending other film festivals, including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the oldest experimental film festival in the United States, Konefsky said. He serves on the festival's board of advisors.
Marika Borgeson, a UNM cinematic arts graduate, has been the festival's assistant director for three years. She begins graduate work at the University of Chicago this fall.
The opportunities Experiments in Cinema provides aren't limited to cinematic arts students. An arts management student interns with the festival, and some students in Visiting Lecturer Kyle Fiore's grant writing course in the Department of English are writing proposals for the festival as a class project.
Festival sponsors include the UNM College of Fine Arts, Basement Films, New Mexico Arts, McCune Charitable Foundation, Albuquerque Film Office, National Endowment for the Humanities, New Mexico Humanities Council, Cervantes Institute and Trust for Mutual Understanding.