Bryan Konefsky, lecturer in the University of New Mexico's Media Arts Department, vice president of local arts organization Basement Films and self-described “media archeologist,” will be taking over UNM's SouthWest Film Center this weekend to present two days worth of “visionary cinema and un-dependent moving image art.”
For the past two decades, Konefsky has traveled to the far reaches of the globe collecting unusual examples of short, non-narrative films--what the cinema-loving Konefsky calls “experimental documentary, experimental narrative and experimental experimental.”
A wide selection of these low-budget marvels will be mashed into the mix for Konefsky's two-night “Experiments in Cinema!” event, which is being sponsored by The McClune Charitable Foundation, Basement Films, The UNM Department of Media Arts, the UNM P.L.A.C.E. Program and the UNM College of Fine Art Faculty Grant Program.
On Friday, Konefsky will present three hours of contemporary experimental cinema from artists in Hong Kong, Ukraine, Canada, Japan, Germany and the United States. Local poet Lisa Gill will start off the night with a reading that serves as an homage to Jean Cocteau's classic 1930 fantasy Blood of a Poet. Famed experimental filmmaker George Kuchar, who has produced more than 200 experimental shorts since 1956, has even graced the festival with one of his newest selections, “Hell Hole Hostage.” According to Konefsky, filmmakers from John Waters to David Lynch have cited Kuchar as an inspiration in their envelope-pushing work.
For Konefsky, “It comes back to that word ’experimental.' These [filmmakers] are people who are experimenting with what a movie might be. They're really challenging works--watchable, but challenging compared to the stuff you might see at a cinemaplex. They question your own notions of movie watching.”
On Saturday, Konefsky is turning some of the programming over to two friends: Laura Neitzel, executive director of the Dallas Video Festival, and Chris McNamara, founder of the Media City Festival in Ontario. “I invited them to come in and program an hour of the ’best of' their two festivals. ... Stuff I haven't even seen,” says Konefsky. Saturday night's block will kick off with a multimedia concert: McNamara performing musical compositions from his band/media collective Thinkbox over cinematic loops created by SouthWest Film Center director Brian Gillespie.
According to Konefsky, “The long-term goal of this is to design a university program that will create a true experimental film festival every year. We have the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. We have the Santa Fe Film Festival. I think it would be interesting to add this to the mix.”
Ultimately, says the broad-minded cineaste, “I just want people to think about movies a little differently.”