Luminous Void: Twenty Years of Experimental Film Society is an overview of the twenty-year history of Experimental Film Society (EFS). Through an exhibition and event series, it will explore the unique, defiant and influential trail that EFS has blazed through the landscape of contemporary Irish moving image. Hailed as “the most active, prolific and intrepid group of experimental filmmakers working in Ireland today” (aemi), EFS is a company dedicated to the production and distribution of personal, formally challenging experimental cinema. But it is also much more than that. It is an attitude, an aesthetic and a stubbornly independent way of operating in complete freedom at the margins of film culture and at the outer limits of cinematic creativity.
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EFS cinema rejects mainstream conventions of filmmaking and instead adopts an exploratory, experiential approach that foregrounds mood, atmosphere, visual rhythms, and the sensory interplay of sound and image. Often uncanny and unsettling, EFS work is deeply engaged with film history while constantly investigating the visionary potential of every manner of moving image device. EFS conjures an alien, outsider vision of the world capable of both alienating and renewing perception. And its conception of ‘cinema’ is restlessly multidisciplinary, encompassing installation, performance and sound projects as well as theoretical writing.
EFS was founded in Tehran in 2000 as a collective by filmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi who remains its director and guiding force. It moved to Ireland with him in 2004 and transitioned to being a production company in 2017 while remaining true to its radical core values and continuing to work with many artists long associated with it. Along the way, it has produced several dozen feature films and over five hundred shorts while consecutively forging underground film cultures in both Iran and Ireland that would have been unthinkable before it came along. Luminous Void will showcase the artists currently working under its banner: Rashidi, Atoosa Pour Hosseini, Maximilian Le Cain, Vicky Langan, Michael Higgins, Jann Clavadetscher, Chris O’Neill and Shelly Kamiel.
Luminous Void will feature an installation encapsulating the EFS aesthetic and its unworldly atmosphere. This will give form to the ‘luminous void’ at the heart of the EFS conception of cinema. In parallel with this, there will be an ongoing and constantly changing programme of short and feature length EFS films projected on loop.
Full schedule of films at projectartscentre.ie/…
A series of special events will accompany the exhibition. Three guest curators, Matt Packer, Pluck Projects and Nikola Gocić, will curate and present themed programmes of EFS films. These programmes will be screened via an online platform during the exhibition.
Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, the remaining events will take place in late 2021. These include live performances by Atoosa Pour Hosseini and Vicky Langan/Maximilian Le Cain specially devised for Luminous Void. Pour Hosseini and Langan/Le Cain are EFS filmmakers whose work also encompasses a performance practice. There will also be two talk events, one a performative lecture by Le Cain and the other a panel discussion featuring all current EFS filmmakers.
Luminous Void: Twenty Years of Experimental Film Society also resulted in a book of that title that was launched in late 2020. Featuring contributions by noted critics and curators from across the globe, it examines the ideas and impulses that animate EFS as well as the practices of many of the filmmakers associated with it. It includes texts by Adrian Martin, Nadin Mai, Matt Packer, Pluck Projects, Sebastian Wiedemann, Sarah Hayden & Paul Hegarty, Azadeh Jafari, Vahid Mortazavi, Zulfikar Filandra and expert EFS scholar Nikola Gocić. These writings provide a guidebook to the imposingly vast ‘luminous void’ of Experimental Film Society cinema. The book will be available for purchase at Project Arts Centre during the exhibition or can be ordered at experimentalfilmsociety.com