A series of eight screenings concurrent with a multi-disciplinary educational course Extracurricular Practices is dedicated to the film collectives from all over the globe. Three groups of the past and five communities of the present suggest different forms of resistance that range from the unionisation of the working women in the 1970's Britain (Nightcleaners by Berwick St Collective) and 1980's India (films by Yugantar Film Collective) to the AIDS activism (DIVA TV reports) and environmental protection (The Undercurrent by Rory Pilgrim). In their turn, Russian participants — Chervograd Film Studio with a black-and-white silent phantasmagoria Zhitiye Goreslava Chuzhdozemnogo — present a radical detour from mainstream filmmaking in favour of free collective expression.
By working in close collaboration with the communities that they've been part of or have depicted, three collectives of the past refuse the external anthropological gaze. Particularly groundbreaking in this regard is Nighcleaners by the Berwick St Collective: inspired by the works of the French filmmakers of the 1960s — namely, Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard, who, in their turn, have been charged with the political enthusiasm of Alexander Medvedkin and Dziga Vertov — not only did the Berwick St Collective shot a film about the unionisation of the working-class women in the 1970s Britain, but they've also participated in it. The same applies to Yugantar, the first feminist film collective in India that has developed scripts for their films, both documentary and fiction ones, by collaborating with the oppressed women (the maid servants, the housewives, the factory workers), presenting multiple perspective on the crucial contemporary issue. And the Damned Interfering Video Activists of DIVA TV, a video-satellite of ACT UP (a legendary community of AIDS activists who've fought the state-level governmental neglect of the epidemic), have left the tapes from the demonstrations, an important document of civic disobedience.
Despite their broad thematic spectre, five contemporary participants of the programme are united by the fact that the medium of film for them is not an end in itself; much more important is the process that each of the group undergoes by opening up their collective — most oftenly, utopian — imagination. Ouvertures by the Living and the Dead Ensemble is a Haitian Creole staging of Toussaint Louverture, a play by the French writer Edouard Glissant that tells a story of the famous Haitian revolutioner; by acting out the play, the Haitian ensemble gets deeper into the colonial past and gradually brings Toussaint Louverture back to life. In The Undercurrent, eco-activism is just one aspect of each of the characters' lives: the artist Rory Pilgrim presents his collaborators from the intersectional point of view by exploring their class and gender; they also engage in various performative and musical practices.
The members of the indigenous Karrabing Film Collective narrate about the relocation of their ancestors sanctioned by the Australian government and the violence against the aboriginal people, by making spellbinding film 'mixtapes' that are edited against any filmmaking rules. And the Rojava Film Commune is seeking for new strategies of telling about the Syrian war: what astonishes most in their first feature, Stories of Destroyed Cities, is the shots of ruins accompanied by the sounds of life before the bombing. Zhitiye Goreslava Chuzhdozemnogo by the Chervograd Film Group is pointedly apolitical at first sight; but once you pay attention to the artistic method of the studio (the fictional biography, the anonymity of the participants, the inventiveness of the production), it becomes obvious that it is also a project in the emancipation of imagination. In contemporary Russia, the detour from the cinematic conventions is an important political act per se.
Curators — Vladimir Nadein, Mikhail Zakharov, Rita Sokolovskaya.