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Knokke-le-Zoute Exprmntl 4 Film Festival, Belgium

"Cannes was never like this. It is a real film festival in a real casino in an unreal setting: winter, North Sea, Belgian resort town. It is a festival for film makers, not for critics." Simon Hartog, 'Knokkenotes', Cinim 3, April 1969.

The Knokke Experimental Film Festival originated in 1949, with festivals in 1958 and 1963. However, it was the fourth festival in 1967, which took place in the coastal resort town of Knokke-Le-Zoute, which is seen as a pivotal moment in the spread of 'underground' and avant-garde film in Europe. The festival director was Jacques Ledoux.

Of the 170 films shown at the festival, only five British entries were included in the competition and John Latham's celebrated Speak (1962) was a notable omission. However a series of films by Stephen Dwoskin went on to win the Solvay Prize. Michael Snow's film Wavelength (1967) won the festival's Grand Prize: a 45-minute zoom across a New York loft apartment, interrupted at various points by changes in the film stock and lens filters, which inspired much of the 'Structuralist' filmmaking in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The festival also saw the stirrings of a potential European Filmmakers Co-op which was to be named 'Europ' and, although a meeting took place in Munich in the year following the festival, the representatives of the various European groups could not agree to work together.

The festival had an influential effect on the London Scene, particularly on members of the London Filmmakers Co-op, especially David Curtis, who was programming for The Arts Lab at the time and reported on the festival for International Times.

James Harding

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Photograph of MOVIEMOVIE inflatable installation by Eventstructure Research Group (1967), sound by Musica Electronica Viva.

Photograph: Peter Boersma, courtesy of EVENTSTRUCTURE RESEARCH GROUP (Theo Botschuijver, Jeffrey Shaw, Tjebbe van Tijen, Sean Wellesley-Miller)
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