An introduction to the festival, which took place 3-16th September 1973 at the National Film Theatre, London
No label has been found that will satisfactorily cover that area of film known variously as 'underground', 'avant-garde', 'experimental' and 'independent'. However what has been discovered is that this sort of film, in all the extremely different forms it takes, is now truly here to stay. Not only was the 'underground' not a temporary aberration but people are grudgingly having to recognise that it is a movement from which have emerged some of the most important film-makers of the last decade. And they are film-makers that deal with film in a way that one isn't ashamed to compare with the best modern painting, sculpture, writing or music. This 'festival' represents a rare and unparalleled opportunity to appraise the whole range of activity within the 'underground/avant-garde' film. Almost all the major figures in the movement are represented, coming from Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, England, Canada and the United States. The selection is such, too, that most of the different directions taken are included. There are film-makers using autobiographical diary form (Mekas, Sonbert), investigating the possibilities of narrative (Rainer, Wyborny), questioning the nature of the relationship between audience and film (the Heins, Le Grice, Landow), searching for films basic syntax (Hammond, Frampton), dealing with landscape in film (Snow, Raban) working with erotic material (Noren, Dwoskin) and so on. This is to name only a few of the film-makers and to simplify and create areas that in the work constantly overlap and interchange.
Particular emphasis has been placed on two things. Firstly that the majority of the material should be new - showing for the first time - or else new to England. (One exciting aspect of the festival is that a number of American film-makers known over here almost solely by reputation, for example Ken Jacobs and George Landow, will be including quite old, already renowned, films but ones being shown here for the first time.) Secondly, in nearly all cases filmmakers will be here in London with their work. As often as possible they will be discussing it with the audience after individual shows. There will also be at least two more formal discussions of which further details are given below. It should be emphasised that the programmes outlined on the following pages are only a portion of the total 'festival'. They represent the range of work being shown but are in no way to be considered distinct in quality from the free afternoon screenings to take place at the NFT or the 'Expanded cinema' events that will be at the ICA. They will include filmmakers - with some of the newest and most exciting work - that it was impossible to fit into the space allotted here. Everybody is strongly advised to obtain the special separate booklet for the festival that will include far more precise and greater detail than is possible here; it will cover all of these programmes. It will be available at the NFT in advance of the event.
Every effort has been made to trace the original copyright holders, but if any has been inadvertently overlooked Luxonline will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements at the first opportunity.