This year's iMPAC festival includes three one-hour short-film selections of work by founder Pluto Panoussis's students. The M&G caught up with him.
The iMPAC (Initiative for Motion Pictures within the African Continent) festival was founded in 2009 by Pluto Panoussis, head of the film arts programme at the Open Window School of Visual Communication, and its 2013 season runs from October 2 to 5 at the campus in Centurion. It includes three one-hour short-film selections of work by Panoussis's students as well as discussions, debate, and a wide range of other audiovisual performances.
The Mail & Guardian chatted to Panoussis about the festival:
What is the iMPAC festival?
It's a biennial festival fostering the exploratory arm of the South African film industry. It's a platform for films that explore the possibilities of expression or innovation in the moving image. The heart of the festival is the short-film programme. I started the festival as a direct response to my students' need to exhibit films of a more conceptual nature and to engage with other like-minded audiovisual creators.
We [iMPAC] believe that a healthy film industry should be embracing both the traditional and experimental arms of that industry. Experimental South African film has been long neglected, but all these expressions need to move forward simultaneously for the industry to flourish.
The next film festival aims to open up the short-film component of the festival to filmmakers across Africa. We just need to get the necessary funding to set up the infrastructure. The vision is that filmmakers from all over the continent will have a platform for exploratory cinema, can find like-minded collaborators, and have a forum where critique by mentors can be provided.
Besides the student movies, at the festival, you have other events related to audiovisual media, right?
Yes. A secondary goal of the festival is to promote challenging audiovisual content among local audiences and to spark discourse about it. So we've compiled a programme of stimulation and debate. For instance, we will discuss the work of avant-garde filmmaker Dietmar Brehm with South African philosopher Bert Olivier, and we celebrate Malian director Souleymane Cissé's masterwork Yeelen. Local filmmaking talent Sibs Shongwe-La Mer will talk about low-fi filmmaking, and there's a showcase of short films made only on cellphones and developed out of community workshops – that's the inaugural One Shot Festival, within the larger festival, this year.
Other highlights will be a new composition by South African musicians A Hollow in the Land and Givan Lötz, as a live accompaniment to the classic silent film Vampyr [Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1932 film], and cinematic post-rock band Eyes Like Mirrors will accompany Zéro de Conduite [Jean Vigo's 1933 work about a school rebellion, which was banned in France for 13 years].
We have the Dooie Diere, fresh from Oppikoppi, with a spoken-word and music project about forgotten pasts and untold histories, and a lecture by interdisciplinary artist Amit Drori that explores the combination of design, moving image, puppetry and robotics. There are also video installations curated for the festival by the Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, with recent work by the artist Johan Thom.
How did you get into teaching experimental film?
If you had told me seven years ago that I would be teaching, I would have laughed at you. It was a position I accepted as a temporary measure at the Open Window when I was approached. But I fell in love with the capacity for a tertiary institution to be able to engage with a medium at its highest level, and with the fellowship I got out of sharing information with students. And it tapped into skills from a previous incarnation of mine, having run the Flieks Film Society in Cape Town for a good eight years and having worked on components of other festivals. As a filmmaker myself, along with the passion and drive to get a vision across, I also have a showman side.
Fore more on the festival, go to impac.co.za