Boredom is NOT on the Menu

by David King

Preview of the Animation/Experimental/Avant Garde program at the
North Bellarine Film Festival, Sunday, November 18, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

still from Dust by Murat Sayginer, Turkey.

I was sitting at a kitchen table with my partner’s Dad who is in his mid-80’s.

He was spell-bound by a rapid-cutting music video on a 50” TV screen. Abstract images jumping and flashing to the beat of music.

“You like that kind of thing?” I asked.

Eyes still on the screen, he nodded: “Yeah.”

“Then you’d ptrobably like my experimental and avant garde program.”

He shook his head. “I don’t like that kind of thing.”

“But that “ I nodded to the screen. “Is a form of experimental filmmaking.”

He shook his head again and went on watching the clip.


Three weeks later, I was having a conversation with a guy around my own age (early 60’s) at a hotel. Everything was going fine until I mentioned my upcoming Animation + Experimental + Avant Garde film program at the North Bellarine Film Festival.

“Yeah, well, good luck with that,” he said as if embarrassed that I’d brought it up.

“Why don’t you come along?” I asked. “It’s free entry.”  

“I don’t go to that sort of thing,” he replied.

I suggested that he might like it if he gave it a chance.

He looked at me like he couldn’t believe I’d made such a suggestion.

“Nah, mate,” he said, and walked off to join another group.


Both men had an immediate and instinctive dislike of anything called ‘experimental’ or ‘avant garde’. Yet, both would quite happily watch music clips with their abstract flashing images and often raucous sound.

What’s the difference? I suspect it lies in one word and concept: entertainment. Music clips are considered entertainment. Experimental and avant garde cinema are considered by many as boring, elitist, and a chore to watch. As for animation, well, that’s for kids, isn’t it?

For a long time now I’ve believed that experimental and avant garde cinema can be exciting, intriguing and entertaining for the average person, and that animation is the cutting edge of new cinema.

And through curating the Animation + Experimental + Avant Garde film program for the North Bellarine Film Festival, I found other filmmakers around the world who feel the same and are making films to prove it.


still from The Sea by Marie Craven, Australia.


Take Berlin-based US filmmaker Johnny Clyde whose Noctiflora combines a deconstructed noirish tale of violence with disturbing black and white imagery that captures the feeling of being trappped in a dream inexorably turning into a nightmare. 

Or Poland’s Ihor Podolchak who gives us an eerie procession of exquisitely-posed and precisely-framed characters in Merry Go Round, reminding us of the Dutch masters but surprising us when we realise that what appear to be still images are not.

South Australia’s Allison Chhorn pays homage to classics of avant garde cinema while taking us on a haunting nocturnal road trip in her music video Author of The Acident.

Melbourne’s Kim Miles tantalises us in To Master A Long Good Night with a mysterious and word-less tale of a man who is teased and tormented by a succession of women in a restauant.

England’s Stuart Pound gets toes tapping in Boogie Stomp Pink where two well-known dancers have their swimg-time moves replicated 24 times across the screen in pink.

          Queensland’s Marie Craven gives us an ever-changing panoply of interlinked ocean images combined with music and poetry in The Sea.

US filmmaker Michael Woods captures the rage of political protest with a staccato flow of abstraction intercut with snatches of TV news, protest footage, corporate and Government proselytising in An Infinite Loop for Resistance.


still from Boogie Stomp Pink by Stuart Pound, U.K.

And those are just seven of the 20 films to screen at Portarlington Neighborhood House between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday 18 November.

All of the films and filmmakers are radically different from each other and give lie to the idea that experimental and avant garde cinema is boring or elitist. Meanwhile animations by Murat Sayginer, Paris Mavroidis and Ivan Li are jaw-dropping, and the pumping grand finale 140 Characters by the US-Australian team of Dean Winkler, Maureen Nappi and Donald S. Butler will likely have people dancing from the room.

While selecting films for this program, my motto was: “Boredom is NOT on the menu.”

For I don’t believe it’s experimentation or strangeness that turns people off experimental and avant garde cinema, but self-indulgence. And that is one thing the filmmakers in the program mostly avoid. They have an audience in mind and don’t consider entertainment to be a dirty word. Yet the films are very much experiments as they seek new ways of expressing ideas and looking at the world around us.

The big challenge is to get people to take a chance and look at these films and see the incredible variety of ideas and methods falling under the banners of animation, experimental and avant garde.


still from 140 Characters by Dean Winkler, Nareen Nappi, Donald S. Butler. USA/Australia.

David King is an international award–winning experimental filmmaker and video artist who lives with his partner and daughter on the coast of the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.

Published November 12, 2018. © David King 2018.