Art of the Real 728x90 Film Comment Film Society of Lincoln Center

Best of the Decade: Avant-Garde

By Film Comment

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The decade's best avant-garde cinematic offerings, as ranked by 46 teachers, critics, and programmers.

In the past decade, the making and showing of experimental film worldwide has gone from strength to strength, so much so that it can be categorically said that avant-garde cinema is as vital now as it has ever been. This addendum to our Jan/Feb end-of-decade wrap-up serves to acknowledge just some of the experimental film achievements of the 21st century’s first 10 years. The rankings on the three lists below were obtained through the tabulation of the number of mentions a given film or filmmaker received in poll responses from a 46-strong group of critics, programmers, and teachers.

BEST AVANT-GARDE FILMS & VIDEO 2000-2009

1. At Sea
Peter Hutton, U.S., 2007 (18)
2. Pitcher of Colored Light Robert Beavers, U.S./Switz., 2007 (16)
3. ( ) Morgan Fisher, U.S., 2003 (15)
tie Ah Liberty! Ben Rivers, U.K., 2008 (15)
tie Observando el Cielo Jeanne Liotta, U.S., 2007 (15)
tie Star Spangled to Death Ken Jacobs, U.S., 2004 (15)
7. Ten Skies James Benning, U.S., 2004 (14)
8. The Fourth Watch Janie Geiser, U.S., 2000 (13)
tie The Heart of the World Guy Maddin, Canada, 2000 (13)
tie RR James Benning, U.S., 2007 (13)
11. Black and White Trypps Number Three Ben Russell, U.S., 2007 (12)
tie The Decay of Fiction Pat O’Neill, U.S., 2002 (12)
tie The God of Day Had Gone Down Upon Him Stan Brakhage, U.S., 2000 (12)
tie An Injury to One Travis Wilkerson, U.S., 2002 (12)
tie Kolkata Mark LaPore, US/India, 2005 (12)
tie 13 Lakes James Benning, U.S., 2004 (12)
17. The General Returns from One Place to Another Michael Robinson, U.S., 2006 (11)
tie Song and Solitude Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S., 2006 (11)
19. False Aging Lewis Klahr, U.S., 2008 (10)
tie The Glass System Mark LaPore, U.S., 2000 (10)
tie Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine Peter Tscherkassky, Austria, 2005 (10)
tie A Letter to Uncle Boonmee Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand, 2009 (10)
tie She Puppet Peggy Ahwesh, U.S., 2001 (10)
tie Skagafjördur Peter Hutton, U.S./Iceland, 2004 (10)
25. As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty Jonas Mekas, U.S., 2000 (9)
tie The Great Art of Knowing David Gatten, U.S., 2004 (9)
tie The Ground Robert Beavers, U.S., 1993-2001 (9)
tie The Hedge Theater Robert Beavers, U.S./Switzerland, 2002 (9)
tie Poetry and Truth Peter Kubelka, Austria, 2003 (9)
tie Sarabande Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S., 2008 (9)
tie The Visitation Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S., 2002 (9)
tie When It Was Blue Jennifer Reeves, U.S./Iceland, 2008 (9)
33. Arbor Vitae Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S., 2000 (8)
tie In Comparison Harun Farocki, Germany/Austria, 2009 (8)
tie It’s Not My Memory of It – Three Recollected Documents The Speculative Archive, U.S., 2003 (8)
tie Meditations on Revolution, Part V: Foreign City Robert Fenz, U.S., 2003 (8)
tie Nest of Tens Miranda July, U.S., 2000 (8)
tie O’er the Land Deborah Stratman, U.S., 2009 (8)
tie Psalm III: Night of the Meek Phil Solomon, U.S., 2002 (8)
tie Winter Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S., 2008 (8)
41. California Trilogy: Los, Sogobi, El Valley Centro James Benning, U.S., 2000-01 (7)
tie *Corpus Callosum Michael Snow, Canada, 2002 (7)
tie Dream Work (for Man Ray) Peter Tscherkassky, Austria, 2001 (7)
tie Horizontal Boundaries Pat O’Neill, U.S., 2008 (7)
tie Let Each One Go Where He May Ben Russell, U.S./Suriname, 2009 (7)
tie Still Raining, Still Dreaming Phil Solomon, U.S., 2009 (7)
tie The Two Minutes to Zero Trilogy Lewis Klahr, U.S., 2003-04 (7)
tie What the Water Said, nos. 4-6 David Gatten, U.S., 2007 (7)


TOP 50 FILMMAKERS

1. Nathaniel Dorsky (54)
2. James Benning (49)
3. Ken Jacobs (45)
4. Lewis Klahr (41)
5. Stan Brakhage (37)
tie Phil Solomon (37)
7. Robert Beavers (35)
8. David Gatten (32)
tie Peter Hutton (32)
10. Michael Robinson (30)
11. Ernie Gehr (29)
tie Ben Russell (29)
13. Mark LaPore (27)
14. Ben Rivers (24)
15. Janie Geiser (23)
tie Jeanne Liotta (23)
17. Luther Price (21)
18. Jennifer Reeves (20)
19. Pat O’Neill (19)
20. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (18)
21. Peggy Ahwesh (17)
tie Stephanie Barber (17)
tie Vincent Grenier (17)
tie Jim Jennings (17)
tie Peter Tscherkassky (17)
tie Fred Worden (17)
27. Guy Maddin (16)
tie Bruce McClure (16)
tie Julie Murray (16)
30. Morgan Fisher (15)
31. Scott Stark (14)
tie Deborah Stratman (14)
tie Travis Wilkerson (14)
34. Harun Farocki (13)
tie Jonas Mekas (13)
36. Bruce Conner (12)
tie Robert Fenz (12)
tie Michael Snow (12)
tie Leslie Thornton (12)
40. Heinz Emigholz (11)
tie Miranda July (11)
42. Eve Heller (10)
tie Michele Smith (10)
tie The Speculative Archive (10)
45. Jacqueline Goss (9)
tie Nicky Hamlyn (9)
tie Peter Kubelka (9)
tie Sharon Lockhart (9)
tie Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet (9)
tie Jim Trainor (9)


25 FILMMAKERS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
(emerging artists beyond the top 50)

1. Tomonari Nishikawa (23)
2. Jim Finn (15)
3. Daichi Saito (13)
4. Luis Recoder & Sandra Gibson (11)
tie Alexandra Cuesta (11)
tie Kevin J. Everson (11)
tie Laida Lertxundi (11)
8. Shiho Kano (10)
tie Vanessa O’Neill (10)
10. Paul Chan (9)
tie Paul Clipson (9)
tie Emily Richardson (9)
tie Sylvia Schedelbauer (9)
14. Minyong Jang (8)
tie Hannes Schüpbach (8)
tie Fern Silva (8)
tie Gretchen Skogerson (8)
tie Ryan Trecartin (8)
tie Soon Mi Yoo (8)
20. Bobby Abate (7)
tie Chris Kennedy (7)
tie Andrew Lampert (7)
tie Matt McCormick (7)
tie Rebecca Meyers (7)
tie Jonathan Schwartz (7)


Poll participants: Acquarello, Steve Anker, Thomas Beard, Ariella Ben-Dov, Amy Beste, Robin Blaetz, Nicole Brenez, Autumn Campbell, Fred Camper, Abigail Child, David Dinnell, Patrick Friel, David Gatten, Jacqueline Goss, Ed Halter, Alexander Horwath, Kristin M. Jones, Chris Kennedy, Nellie Killian, Lewis Klahr, Irina Leimbacher, Scott MacDonald, Matt McCormick, Mark McElhatten, Kevin McGarry, Don McMahon, Olaf Möller, Oona Mosna, Pablo de Ocampo, Susan Oxtoby, Andréa Picard, Tony Pipolo, Steve Polta, J.R. Rigsby, Jeremy Rossen, Lynne Sachs, Keith Sanborn, Michael Sicinski, Josh Siegel, P. Adams Sitney, Gavin Smith, Phil Solomon, Scott Stark, Chris Stults, Jim Supanick, Genevieve Yue