It’s not unlike Winnipeggers to see something missing in the arts scene and decide to create it themselves.
Before 2005, Jaimz Asmundson says there was no where in Winnipeg to see or show experimental film. There were many film festivals but none to show the type of work he did.
Having travelled to film festivals outside of Winnipeg, Asmundson had seen a great deal of experimental work that he wanted to bring to his city.
Then he heard there was a group of Winnipeggers working to create WNDX, a festival of moving images including film, video, performance, installation and new media forms. He decided to join them and is, in the festival’s 10th year, the festival producer.
“My desire to be part of WNDX is to help filmmakers have their work seen,” Asmundson says.
He says the festival had humble beginnings but now are able to show international work and even attract big names, like Crispin Hellion Glover of Back to the Future and Hot Tub Time Machine.
This year, Glover will be presenting his one hour narration of eight illustrated books in a presentation called Big Slide Show.
“We really focus on work you would never see in Winnipeg in a million years,” Asmundson says.
Such as the work of Rhayne Vermette.
“They were big supporters of my work,” Vermette says. She creates documentary hybrids using 16 mm footage, animation and collage.
“For me, it actually was one of the first screenings that I’ve garnered.”
This gave her confidence to continue, which led to her winning the best prairie work for her short film Tudor Village: A One Shot Deal at the 2013 WNDX festival.
This year, she moved from just submitting work to the festival to being a part of the curatorial collective because she feels that it is important to get experimental films out for everyone to see.
“These days, there’s a barrage of images,” Vermette says. Advertisements, cellphones and TVs show formulaic images that are accessible, easy to understand and made to sell.
Even in mainstream theatres, Vermette says there are trends that are seen over and over again.
“Something like WNDX is important,” she says. Forms of filmmaking that fall out of the mainstream challenge how people give and take information.
The WNDX curatorial collective doesn’t look for films that will be popular. Rather they seek pieces that will challenge viewers and open dialogue about what’s going on in film.
While they’re not looking for popular work, the festival itself is gaining attention.
“The last three years, the numbers have actually doubled every year,” Asmundson says.
Published in Volume 70, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 17, 2015)