UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2017

129 | CCN: 14775

History of Avant-Garde Film

Jeffrey Skoller,

4 Units

Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all! --Andre Breton

Avant-garde film is a cinema of subversion, of sensual perversion, filled with constantly challenging, unruly images and ideas that are often messy, sublime and like life, complicated! Avant-Garde Film is also a cinema of counter-culture whose filmmakers are challenging the edges of aesthetic, social, intellectual and sexual, acceptability. Not bound by the bottom line of corporate checkbooks and middle-brow gentility, avant-garde cinema challenges us to see, think and feel differently. Each film is a pipe cleaner for the mind clearing out sludge from years of watching the mind numbing conventions of shopping mall cinema and infantilizing info-tainment TV. We explore the rich and varied history of “and-made films" made by fine artists who are experimenting with the formal, perceptual and narrative elements of film as well as looking at the poetic traditions of the first person cinema as well as politically engaged films that subvert the very foundations of society and its status quo ideologies.
Through weekly screenings, the reading of word texts, talking to visiting artists, discussing and writing about the films as well as making short filmic artworks, we move back and forth between historical and contemporary practices sampling from the garden of underground, personal, poetic, queer, surrealist cinemas, feminist, structural-materialist, punk, found films, animated films, love films and smash-the-state films!
The course consists of weekly lecture/screenings, discussion sections weekly written assignments, creative projects and a final research paper or film. There is a required film screening Wednesday evenings at the Pacific Film Archive.