This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Festival of (In)appropriation—an experimental found-footage film and video festival partially hosted in Edmonton. The point of the festival is to feature films that involve some sort of pre-existing media, like sound or image, but used in interesting and new ways.
“We’re interested in what the possibilities of audio/visual appropriation are, particularly in a short experimental film,” Jaimie Baron, one of the founders and curators of the festival, says. “I think we’re different from any other festivals in that we really prioritize experimental conceptual work.”
The media appropriated for the films come from a variety of places like home movies and Hollywood films, as well as photographs.
Though the festival focuses on pre-existing footage, Baron and the other curators try to stay away from involving supercuts in their selections.
“The idea is basically that you either take one element from one text and just cull all of the instances of that word or image—you find similarity and variation at the same time. An example would be all of the curse words in Pulp Fiction,” she says. “I think it can kinda be just a joking form.”
This year, however, a couple films made it into the Festival of (In)appropriation that could be considered supercuts, but a different take on them.
“They’re definitely very self-reflexive examinations of the supercut or the topic through which they’re working with,” Baron says. “One of the films is Jennifer Proctor’s Nothing a Little Soap and Water Can’t Fix and it’s all images from mainstream narrative films of women in bathtubs, but there’s a really interesting structure to it—it changes over time and I think it shows something quite interesting about this trope of a woman in a bathtub.”
The idea for the festival began when Baron was working as a volunteer for the Los Angeles Filmforum and doing her PhD. She had wanted to create her own festival for some time, and Adam Hyman, who runs the Los Angeles Filmforum, told her to go for it.
“It started out as a bit of a joke. We were like ‘Oh, Festival of (In)appropriation, isn’t that kind of clever?,’” she says. “It turned into something where it was like ‘Wow, This is a really interesting art form and people are doing all kinds of stuff with it.’ There’s this incredible trove of material now that people are digging into.”
Though Baron lives in Edmonton, the other two curators live in the States. Lauren Berliner is stationed in Seattle, while Greg Cohen resides in Los Angeles. Another interesting note about the festival is that it travels, first playing in L.A., then Edmonton, and finally Seattle before going anywhere else that wants to book it.
Being an experimental film festival, the Festival of (In)appropriation is geared towards an audience willing to watch something a bit different.
“I think anyone could be really interested, but a lot of [the films] are non-narrative, they don’t tell stories, they might have implied narrative but not in the way most people expect from a Hollywood film” she says. “On the other hand, I always tell people they’re short films. If you don’t like one wait for the next one.”
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