Experimental, or ‘avante-garde’ cinema, is a model of film-making which steps outside archetypal cinematic conventions. It creatively explores non-linear formats of narrative. It began in the 1920’s, almost a century ago. It began with works such as Man Ray‘s Le Retour a la Raison (1923), which is shared below.
The avante garde trend continued into American film during the 1950’s and 60’s. A prime example is the 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono film, Rape. It tells the narrative of video assault in a format which deviates from traditional storytelling standards. Ono’s cameraman picked a young woman, seemingly at random, and chased her down the street with his video camera, documentary style.
Experiments in Cinema
Experiments in phenomena which is yet to be fully understood and appreciated by humans, such as dreams, memories and points of view, became popular from the mid-1900’s and remain constant in modern film also. Examples include Destino (1945-2003) from Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, and Anomalisa (2015), directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.
Documentary is another trend which transformed the nature of narrative. It is often associated with non-fiction film, yet this is not necessarily always the case. An example of documentary cinema is Nanook of the North (1922), directed by Robert Flaherty.
Expanded cinema is a phenomenon which pushes the cinema experience beyond the medium in which it has been traditionally constrained. It is characterised by a rejection of the one-way communication between the cinema screen and audience. Stan Van Der Beek coined the term in the 1960’s, when the notion of the participatory audience began to trend. There are no limits to the creativity which expanded cinema can conjure. Recently, virtual reality has been combined with expanded cinema to achieve a new audience effect.