This is not your ordinary cinema

Experimental film festival WNDX is back for another year of weird

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“You will see no big brand McMovie at our fest. Independent cinema is not a bulk format experience, served a billion at a time.”

In its seventh year, the WNDX experimental film festival remains faithful to its mandate.

According to the non-profit festival’s website, “WNDX places special attention on the most innovative and ground-breaking work by Canadian filmmakers and video artists, with a special focus on the work of Manitoba and prairie artists.”

They “celebrate the impetus to create in motion pictures as a means of artistic expression and bring to the forefront works that may be overlooked by the mainstream.”

In other words, don’t expect any three-hour summer blockbusters.

The festival of moving images celebrates film made for the love of film, and has been a labour of love for festival programmer Jaimz Asmundson.

Involved with the festival serendipitously since its creation in 2005, Asmundson is the Cinematheque director at the Winnipeg Film Group, as well as a filmmaker himself.

“At the time we started WNDX, the landscape for film presentation in Manitoba was mainly focused on drama and there were not many opportunities to see video art, underground film and experimental media in this context,” Asmundson says. “It is very exciting to chat with people who have never seen this type of work and hear how it has inspired them, opened their minds or just plain pissed them off.”

Clearly more people are being inspired than turned off, with attendance and submission numbers multiplying year over year.

“This year we received nearly twice as many submissions than the previous year, so I can only hope that this is reflected in our attendance (this year),” Asmundson says.

An exciting aspect of WNDX is the opportunity to bring in films and artists that Winnipeggers may never have been exposed to, and may never be again.

Asmundson is ecstatic to see legendary underground film writer Jack Sergeant’s selection on Beat Cinema, all shown in their original 16 or 35 mm formats.

Asmundson says that experimental film can be a much more personal art form than traditional narrative film.

“It allows filmmakers to experiment with fresh ideas, new techniques and different forms of exhibition aside from the single-channel work,” he says. “These experiments can also provide filmmakers working in other genres with inspiration for alternative techniques to express their vision.”

Audiences will have the opportunity to check out Deco Dawson’s short Keep a Modest Head as part of the “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea” program, at 3 p.m., Sept. 29 at Cinematheque.

The Winnipeg filmmaker recently took home the award for Best Canadian Short Film at the Toronto International Film Festival for this film about late French Surrealist Jean Benoit, which fits right in to the festival’s programming.

Once again, a crowd favourite is back with the One Take Super 8 Event. As the festival program says, “Good things come in small packages.”

Thirty participants were given the opportunity to shoot a film using the seemingly archaic medium of super 8. The only rule the filmmakers had? No cuts or splices could be made in their film.

Interestingly, many of the films created for this event have gone on to screen at festivals around the world.

Not bad for a little pack of tape.

WNDX runs Wednesday, Sept. 26 to Sunday, Sept. 30 at several locations in Winnipeg. Visit www.wndx.org for the schedule and further details. Single admissions are $8, or $6 for students. Festival passes are $20, or $15 for students and available at the Artspace Building at 100 Arthur Street.

Published in Volume 67, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 26, 2012)

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