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Avante Garde Film Essay

3999 words - 16 pages

Ben Corbett Mick Grierson
FI506 Avant Garde Film

What Constitutes a Diary Film, and Why Might it be Considered a Form of Avant-Garde or ‘Critical’ Film?

In order to answer this question there are a few areas that require specific definition. The term Avant-Garde itself is something that often can differ in its exact meaning due to interpretation. This makes it an almost undesiferrable term for both historians and critics alike. Critic, Ian Christie claims that the term is, ‘always ...view middle of the document...

However, for some, this may be a stepping-stone to getting noticed as many filmmakers rely on grants and prizes to fund their work.
The chance to work alone gives the filmmaker a chance to put a piece of themselves into the film itself, this leads to the idea of lyrical film, in which the filmmaker can often be seen as the protagonist. This is a point that will be addressed in more detail.
The screening of such films is also important. Smith says, ‘films are usually distributed through film co-operatives, and exhibited by film societies, museums and universities.’[3] This is extremely important as it may be argued that this shows the attitude towards the films. It is of some importance that Smith uses the word, ‘exhibited’. This is a term often associated with art rather than film. However, many may argue that Avant-Garde film may be more closely related to art rather than the money spinning blockbusters of Hollywood.
The location of screenings is also of note. To not go through the usual cinematic channels opens the doors of censorship. This is important to the content of many Avant-Garde films, including one of the two to be focused on in this essay, Window, Baby, Water, Moving. (1962, Stan Brakhage). There is absolutely no doubt that such a film would never have got passed the censors. This is integral to the breaking down of social barriers that censorship helps to maintain.

This may be a theme that runs through many films considered to have diaristic elements. The term diary film is another one that often needs clarification. It is usually considered as an aspect of lyrical film in which, as mentioned earlier, usually hold some sort of argument pointing towards the actual filmmaker being the major protagonist. This may happen in different ways. It does not necessarily mean that the filmmaker is in the orthodox way, a main character. It may be that the link between artist and their work is directly linked to that of a poet. Often poetry will not tell a coherent story that resembles a series of events. Instead the form of the words and the sounds, using such devices as alliteration or metaphor attempts to portray a situation or feeling the poet may experience. The reader takes what they will from the poem, whether it is through putting themselves in the exact situation of the poet or adapting the situation to fit something they have felt themselves. It may be argued that this is very similar to lyrical film. It may not contain an everyman, as it is not necessarily important for the audience to relate to the character. Michael O’Pray backs up this idea when talking about the post-war American Avant-Garde scene. He claims it carries a, ‘strand of creativity which is especially to be found in… American poets, Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens.’
To sum this argument up, it may be argued that lyrical and diary film link to poetry and O’Pray links the post-war American Avant-Garde scene to poetry. Maya Deren’s...

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