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Blazing trails: ‘Experiments in Cinema’ showcases works from 35 countries

For more than a decade, Bryan Konefsky has brought international filmmakers to New Mexico.

“Foreclosed Home Movie” by Lisa Danker

It’s a lot of work, but he enjoys it.

Konefsky is the founder and director of the “Experiments in Cinema” film festival.

Over the course of the festival’s existence, it has grown by leaps and bounds.

And the growth continues this year.

“The community has supported us over the years and it’s been amazing,” he says. “This is the reason we’re recognized as a great film festival, and it gives me the opportunity to travel around the world.”

Konefsky looked through 600 submissions for this year’s festival.

He had the help of his 11-member committee, which whittled it down to 100 films.

“The films are representing 35 countries,” he says. “And more than 50 percent of the films are made by women.

Countries including Iran and Sri Lanka have films in the festival that have never been seen in New Mexico.

Konefsky says that instead of presenting the festival as one that shows experimental films, he changed the name to “Experiments in Cinema.”

“It’s easier to wrap your head around this festival,” he says. “I think in the past people thought it was avant-garde. These filmmakers are poets.”

The festival is divided into 18 blocks or “experiments.”

The festival includes a presentation of “Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America,” with an introduction from Adam Hyman from LA Filmforum, on Thursday, April 18.

There is also a block of New Mexico-based films.

“We have a partnership with the UNM Art Museum, and they are doing an exhibit on Bruce Conners’ films and sculpture work,” he says. “In terms of New Mexico films, every year we do a regional youth program, and this year we are focusing on junior high and high school students.”

The Regional Youth Program will screen at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at the KiMo Theatre. The event is free.

Albuquerque Academy, Amy Biehl Charter High School, Bosque School, Family Focus Center, Media Arts Collaborative Charter School, Public Academy for Performing Arts, Sandia Prep, Working Classroom and Zia Family Focus Center are participating. The program was curated by Nina Shoenfeld and Xen Garcia.

“The goal is to inspire a new generation of homegrown filmmakers to recognize the value of their media voices and to participate in shaping future trends of cultural representation,” Konefsky says.

Konefsky is also looking forward to the presentation of the “Videoex: Swiss Experiments 2006-2016” at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at the KiMo Theatre. This event is also free.

Videoex is Switzerland’s largest festival dedicated to experimental film and video. Every year at the end of May, over the course of nine days, Videoex shows films and videos beyond conventional narrative cinema: experimental, visually surprising, conceptually unexpected, or controversial political films and videos on the threshold between visual art and film.

“We are bringing in special lecturers who are festival directors and curators from around the world,” Konefsky says. “It would be a nice opportunity for local and regional filmmakers to meet some of the people that may evaluate their films. There are panel discussions on how the festivals get put together. It’s an opportunity for New Mexico filmmakers to get another vantage point to filmmaking.”

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