Nestled in the middle of the New York Film Festival, the Views from the Avant-Garde program, now in its thirteenth year, has become something of a lightning rod for experimental work. For better or for worse, the rare, uncategorizable, and often difficult films it features are crammed into a dense, two and a half-day screening schedule that challenges the endurance of even the most seasoned viewer. In previous years programmers Mark McElhatten and Gavin Smith organized their selections with session titles and descriptions, but this edition, which did away with both, left the work of finding the underlying logic up to the audience. Though this may seem an unremarkable omission, the lack of a suggestive framework for viewing meant that a number of experimental mainstays got lost in the fold, and the works that could otherwise stand alone, namely ethnographic excursions and understated essay films, were the ones that received the most attention.
If nothing else, however, the emphasis on documentary indicated an important trend in an ever-expanding idea of what constitutes avant-garde practice. Giuseppe Bertolucci’s La Rabbia di Pasolini, a liberal reconstruction of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1963 short, Rage, was one such film. Click here to read the rest of Genevieve Yue’s coverage of the 2009 edition of Views from the Avant-Garde.