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Splash, Scratch, Dunk! Films Made by Hand

handmade film of a girl in the sea

There exists an alternative history of cinema, one quite apart from commercial mainstream film, but also a distinct subset of experimental cinema: films made not by using a camera, but by hand. 

Filmmakers have worked in this tradition since the 1930s, drawing, painting or scratching directly onto film; sticking things to the filmstrip; decaying the film stock by chemical attack or by burying it underground.
In true DIY spirit, they have developed their own processes, welcomed chance outcomes, and applied different paints and inks...but also household bleach, glitter nail polish, even bodily fluids!

The filmmakers have different aims, or aspirations, for their work, making it the vehicle for political expression, and sometimes even for an attack on film itself.

This series of films made by hand includes pioneering, enduring classics of the genre alongside recent works by contemporary directors.


The ideas and selection of films for this programme were informed by Gregory Zinman’s seminal book: Making Images Move: Handmade Cinema and the Other Arts (University of California Press, 2020) and Process Cinema: Handmade Film in the Digital Age, by Scott MacKenzie and Janine Marchessault (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2019).


This season is presented in the context of the public programme complementing Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty, an exhibition celebrating French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), one of the most singular and provocative voices in postwar modern art.