“If done well, a film conveys effortlessly the ideas and aspects of life that are, typically, the most difficult to communicate, and as audience members, we get to participate in this great collective epiphany. The filmmaker, in that way, is no different to the poet.” – Rosie Rowe, WUFF
If you’ve ever had a vision, a curiosity or a dream for a moving image experiment, now’s the time to get crackin’ on your film and photographic adventures, because submissions for the third annual Wellington Underground Film Festival are now open.
WUFF commands an impressive following and appreciation, with entries streaming in from the Capital, across New Zealand and around the world. In both previous years, the programme hosted three-full days worth of films, the massive schedule representing only a proportion of the entries received.
We talked to Rosie Rowe, one of WUFF’s co founders, to learn more about the continued appeal of experimental and avant-garde moving images, and, for the curious and uninitiated, what WUFF 2015 could hold.
“I don’t think that avant garde/experimental film speaks to Wellingtonians anymore than to any other city full of people,” says Rosie “But I do think that WUFF brings something to Wellington that wasn’t here before. We fill a niche not only for those who appreciate experimental film but also, more specifically, for those who want to see this kind of work in the theatre, not just in galleries or on computer screens.”
Rosie’s first call for WUFF submissions, from 2012.
Rosie wants the festival to be as inclusive and approachable as possible. “First and foremost, we want the work to speak for itself”, she explains. “That’s why our online submission form doesn’t ask for a filmography or achievements or if a film has screened at other institutions. We don’t care; we want everyone to feel equally encouraged to submit and let the work determine whether it will fit the festival.”
This approach is clearly appealing to a great many moving image artists and fans. In 2012, WUFF received 300 applications, an impressive response. But by 2013, Rosie and her panel of organisers received over a thousand submissions. Undaunted, Rosie’s clear about what WUFF’s season needs to reflect.
“Practically speaking, we decline any film that is in the classic Hollywood narrative style. Then, we watch the rest of the films with the hopes of finding a gem: a film that uses moving image or non-moving image, sound or no sound, in a way that communicates so much more than if it were suffering within the confines of a narrative. These films are no different than a great painting and are few and far between. Finally, we shape the programme, either by clashing films against each other or by maintaining consistent themes that connect the works. Personally, I think the juxtaposition of disparate films- in the tradition of the late, great Amos Vogel and Cinema 16- is more exciting and creates a dynamic programme.”
Rowe is passionate about the medium and has been making her own films for several years. But with this kind of community, there’s always more to see and experience.
“I wouldn’t say I’m immersed [in experimental film]… maybe knee-deep…but I credit the influences of citing Man Ray, Maya Deren, Nathaniel Dorsky Peggy Ahwesh, James Benning, Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Su Friedrich, and Chris Marker with inspiring me to sink deeper into the underground.”