Some may consider the term "experimental film" to be a highbrow quality label, others may see a rather polite euphemism for “bad movie“. So what really is the significance of this vague term? And why is "experimental film" so hard to find today? Director Brecht Debackere looks for answers in the history of EXPRMNTL – once a legendary film festival and today the title of this fascinating documentary.
The documentary EXPRMNTL highlights an important period in the cultural scene of radical cinema, underground music and unrestrained experimental drift. EXPRMNTL was initially the side program of the "World Festival of Art and Film" that took place between 1949 and 1974 in the casino of Knokke. The special side program showed the medium in all its forms and colours: surrealist film, Dadaist film, abstract film ... EXPRMNTL had only five editions, but was the most legendary experimental film festival ever.
The significance of experimental film is clarified by looking at the history of EXPRMTL, a history that questions the nature of film. The lover of underground film will be nothing but pleased by this documentary: a flash of the cult figure Pierre Clementi, an image of Yoko Ono, rare images of 'fringe events' at the festival – including a bouncy castle full of nudists – and much more unknown subversive pearls of the festival's catalogue. Filmmaker Debackere uses this documentary to pinpoint a topic that is all too relevant today: the limited display possibilities for experimental film.