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Interest group yields experimental films
By Christine Laskowski (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-30 11:17


Interest group yields experimental films

Members fo Scratch flim workshop use knives,razors and paint to create their own experimental filmes. 

Last Saturday afternoon about 20 people gathered at CNEX Salon Cafe to mess up strips of film.

After a preliminary lecture by Belgian artist-in-residence Reinnart Vanhoe on found footage films and the godfather of experimental films, Stan Brakhage, who used scratching extensively in his work equipped with an arsenal of exacto knives, razors, paints, inks and markers, they went to the bins to find strips of old 8-mm film purchased at Panjiayuan market.

The recycled film workshop, called Scratch, was held by a Beijing film group, Electric Shadows (ES) and founded by Vicky Mohieddeen, a cheerful and retro-stylish 27-year-old filmmaker from the UK.

After moving to Beijing last September her first desire was to meet other filmmakers, and she did. But she found the development of the avante-garde to be lacking and started ES last January as an active response.

ES hosts monthly themed film screenings. On Dec 19 there will be a sex-themed film screening with the overall goal, according to Mohieddeen, of developing more experimental filmmaking.

"We want to show people what you can do with film," she said. "Watch it, get inspired, do something new. It's how filmmakers develop their own language."

Scratch also granted the opportunity to create a personal soundtrack at the ES soundlab to accompany the films that would be screened later that evening.

Monica, a 26-year-old student from Sydney, hard at work covering the strips of film she collected with red, purple and yellow paint, explained she came to the event because it sounded like fun. But more than that, it was freeing.

Questions of creative destruction were coming from every corner of the cafe.

"What if we paint and scratch it into the paint?" asked Michael from the US, who told METRO that a workshop like Scratch was atypical for him.

"This is not something I would normally go to, but a friend told me about it and it gives me a chance to see another side of Beijing," he said.

But doing something different was exactly what Scratch was trying to get people to do.

"Everything's so different when you come here," Mohieddeen said. "Buying film here, you always have to look a little bit further to find things to include in your art. These films are discarded treasures."

Just then, someone had brought a tiny strip of 8-mm film they had selected to be played through the film projector to see what was on it.

"Beijing is full of these little gems," Mohieddeen said referencing what was being projected on the screen. "In this case it's a film with a little kid from the 1950s building sandcastles on the beach."

"We want to get people to think with their brains, think with their creative souls," she said. "Get inspired."