The New York Film Festival started today, and next weekend is the 14th annual Views From the Avant-Garde, a mini-festival programmed by Mark McElhatten and Gavin Smith (editor of Film Comment) intended to showcase the best recent experimental work in film and video, along with related works from the avant-garde repertory.
The festival is kicking off Thursday night with three unreleased reels by the late French actor-cum-director Pierre Clémenti, known for his roles in films by Buñuel, Rocha, Bertolucci, Visconti and others. Friday focuses on individual showcases for filmmakers like James Benning, Phil Solomon, and recent works by Jean-Marie Straub. Saturday and Sunday are group shows including dozens of artists, including some of my favorite working filmmakers: Deborah Stratman, Lewis Klahr, Martin Arnold, Peter Tscherkassky, Jeanne Liotta, Emmanuel Lefrant, Vincent Grenier, Ken Jacobs, Stephanie Barber, Tomonari Nishikawa, Michael Robinson, Robert Beavers, and so on. There will also be several live projector performances by Paul Clipson, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Bruce McClure and Jonas Asher. And there's some vintage Oliveira tucked away in one of the Saturday programs.
On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the always interesting Light Industry (located in downtown Brooklyn) is showing two early works by the Maysles Brothers (Salesman, Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter). And MoMA is currently in the middle of a month-long Barbara Hammer program, chronicling the lesbian-feminist's works from the 1970s to the present.
So if most of your film viewing is done through cable and DVD rentals, try escaping the house or apartment for a while at one of these venues. You won't find any of it on Netflix, and you may even enjoy yourself.