By Mariah Phillips | Indiewire December 24, 2013 at 10:03AM
Kino is a film movement which is also known as "express filmmaking," in which participants collaborate to create short films in short periods of time. In addition to being a film movement, Kino is also a social movement. Mariah Phillips recently wrote "Kino Explosion: How a Film Movement Becomes a Social One" for the Tribeca Film blog. They gave us permission to republish a portion of it below.
The motto of Kino is ever present when talking to Kinoites. "They've been infected!" laughs Lukas Scheper. He's just returned from Shanghai's first Kino Kabaret, and back in Hamburg, he's still on fire with Kino's power. "You can find your way with Kino."
Kino is a film movement designed to foster creativity amongst film lovers. "Kinoites," as they affectionately call themselves, develop, write and shoot short films within 48 hours. It requires problem solving, innovation, and resilience. Kinoites swear by it. "Do well with nothing. Do better with little. But do it now!" they say, echoing their founder's words.
Montreal, January 1999. Christian Laurence, Jericho Jeudy and about 20 others decided to make a pact: they would make one short film a month until January 2000. Their budgets were virtually non-existent, but with careful deadlines and creativity, they managed to keep that promise. Jericho Jeudy says the exercise taught them "there are other means by which we can make films. You don't have to be a millionaire."
It couldn't have come at a better time. Digital cameras were just becoming available, allowing filmmakers to edit on their computers. The cost of making movies had decreased, and without the threat of expensive film, many were becoming more experimental. In another 10 years, with advances in technology and method, the price may drop even further.
The movement finds its roots in cinema direct, a means of making films modestly, with fewer resources. It resulted in films based more on feeling and intuition than theory. Jeudy calls them "the most audacious films."
"Kino lets people make the films they want...tell the story they want, the way they want," says Samuel Hilton of Kino Sydney. "Cinema should be a democratic process."
Filmonik Manchester’s Jonathan Pratt says that not being tied to big budgets allows for more variety in film.
Yet, Kino is as much a social movement as it is a film movement. Hannaleena Hauru of Kino Euphoria in Helsinki says she has been "Enjoying cinema as a community experience. Film makes you meet people you wouldn’t normally meet."
There are Kino cells in England, France, Germany, Morocco, Israel, Australia, Burkina Faso-- and that's just the tip of the iceberg. "Each country has its own film style," notes Filmonik's Jenny Longworth.
The highlight of the Kino calendar is the Kabaret. During seasonal Kabarets, participants live, eat, and work together. These temporary communes last at least 48 hours. In that short amount of time, Kinoites form creative teams and make films. Let me repeat that: 48 hours. Start to finish. The result is undoubtedly the most harried, exuberant, mind-blowing experience.
"You don't have time to get emotionally attached to projects," says Jerme Charreton of Kino LugdunUM in Lyon. Steve Balshaw of Filmonik likens it to a jam session.
In 2008, Lukas Scheper says they experimented with elongating the allotted time to 60 hours. "There was less energy," he groans. "The films were less risky, less interesting...more complicated." That's where the "do better with little" comes in.
In order to complete the film on schedule, it is impossible to work on several ideas at a time. Once the team has committed to a concept, they have no choice but to follow through. There's more to lose, but there’s also nothing to lose. One of the key markers of the Kino Kabarets is that there are no prizes. No "best use of editing equipment," no "most likely to succeed," and definitely no "best director/writer/actor/costume designer/caterer/dog walker."
There are no genre or character constraints, either. This is where it differs from the popular 48-hour film challenge. Karim Aitgacem of KinoPaname in Paris says that at Kino you have "The right to experiment, to err, to mess up completely, and to have only a bruised ego as a consequence." Having made a film is your only prize for participating in a Kino Kabaret. And if the film isn't what you wanted or imagined it to be? "Do better next time, but next time is tomorrow, not six months later," Scheper shrugs.
In Sydney, the time is even shorter. Realizing that many Australians didn't have the time for 48-hour sessions, Kino Sydney has reduced the time to 32 hours. Hilton says they have also started "mini Kabarets," with 1 session instead of the traditional 2 or 3. During their Kabaret season, Kino Sydney typically plans 1 mini Kabaret a weekend over a three-week period. This allows more people to participate; Hilton adds that they’re considering having mini Kabarets on random weekends, rather than three consecutive ones.
This cross-cultural affair attracts amateurs and professionals alike; everyone has something to contribute. One man at HamburgerKino's 2012 Kabaret, Dave Kavanagh, was a schoolteacher in Manchester by trade, but came to Hamburg to contribute soundtracks for the Kino films.
"Kino isn't as glamorous as Hollywood. I believe that independent films must be made urgently; they are the last auteur films...Film for film's sake," muses Jeudy. "Mainstream cinema needs a shake up!" remarks Hilton.