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Introduction
1973
3-16 September

The International Festival of Independent Avant-Garde Film at the National Film Theatre.

The International Festival of Independent Avant-Garde Film took place over a two week period from 3rd to 16th September 1973 at the National Film Theatre in London.

It was a more ambitious event than the International Underground festival of three years before in terms of the scope of filmmakers involved and the range of events organised, the change in the title from 'Underground' to 'Independent Avant-Garde' reflecting the shift in emphasis away from the counter-culture focus of the early London Filmmakers Co-operative, the Arts Lab and American Underground cinema towards a broader survey of international filmmaking activity. That experimental filmmaking could now sustain a fortnight of events, talks and screenings shows the rapid growth of activity in such a short space of time, supported by a formidable international network of co-operatives, festivals and critical dissemination through journals and books.

Organised by David Curtis and Simon Field, the festival was divided between screenings and talks at the National Film Theatre and expanded cinema events at the ICA, which dedicated it's gallery spaces to the festival for the two week duration. Regina Cornwell chaired a forum discussing Avant-Garde film, for example, whilst there was also a meeting to discuss experimental film's modes of production and distribution. There was even a screening of early avant-garde and abstract films programmed and introduced by the historian William Moritz, showing that the experimental film community was now confident enough to consider its own histories and influences. The festival was significant for a strong European presence which counterbalanced the previous dominance of American filmmakers, with many programmes dedicated to the new 'structural' filmmaking emerging from the London Filmmakers Co-operative. Also significant was the range and diversity of expanded cinema events, from the rigour and formalism of Filmaktion, Valie Export and Willem and Birgit Hein to the more sensory multi-screen projections of American pioneers such as Stan VanDeerbeck and Ken Jacobs.
LR.

Lucy Reynolds

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Poster for The International Festival of Independent Avant-Garde Film at the National Film Theatre.

Courtesy: British Artists' Film and Video Study Collection.
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