This is the third iteration of this annual roundup of the year in avant-garde, and it has only gotten more difficult over that span to narrow down an entire twelve months of noteworthy accomplishments into an arbitrary list of favorites. For one, the term avant-garde, as broad and malleable as it’s ever been, is still a wholly subjective designation. Can a documentary be avant-garde? Can narrative shorts be avant-garde? Can widely travelled features be avant-garde? The answer is, of course, yes. So in the spirit of the proceedings, I haven’t placed any restrictions on the list you’re about to read, other than limiting it to eight selections, a number arrived at for no other reason than it happened to pop up on a few occasions as I began considering titles.
And this year, that pool of titles was larger than ever. I’ll certainly never claim any list to be definitive, but I will say that I watched more “avant-garde” films than ever this year: Essentially everything from Crossroads, Wavelengths, and Projections, with a number of select titles from Images and Ann Arbor and the odd regional program. Which is to say, a lot of excellent work was necessarily left out. So, before we begin, a quick tip of the hat to Scott Stark (Traces/Legacy), Eric Stewart (Wake), Mary Helena Clark (Palms), Ben Russell (Greetings to the Ancestors), Jonathan Schwartz (3 Miniatures), Lewis Klahr (Mars Garden), Blake Williams (Something Horizontal), Björn Kämmerer (Navigator), Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (Sector IX B), Laida Lertxundi (Viva para Vivir), Margaret Honda (Color Correction) and Madison Brookshire (About 11 Minutes).