Experimental film

"It's about the film!”: in the late 1920s, that was the rallying cry of Dutch filmmakers and film aficionados who were protesting against the increasing market share of the entertainment film. They were afraid that with the advent of sound film, cinema would become a sort of filmed theatre.

They united in the Filmliga, developed a penchant for foreign avant-garde films, and focused on the “pure” film. This kind of artistic film was largely about the formal properties of the medium of film itself, such as editing and rhythm. A good example of such a film is Is er overeenkomst tusschen klank, rhythme en kleurafwisseling? by Willem Bon.

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Is er overeenstemming tusschen klank, rhythme en kleurafwisseling? (Willem Bon, 1932)

A rich Dutch tradition began with Joris Ivens and Mannus Franken, and again flourished in the 1960s with Frans Zwartjes and the Electric Cinema. From that moment on, experimental film in the Netherlands had a core group of filmmakers. Their films were not often shown in mainstream cinemas, but were instead screened in arthouse cinemas, museums, and festivals.

Still from In Need of Space (Bart Vegter, 1982)
Still from In Need of Space (Bart Vegter, 1982)
Still from De macht der twee (Edward Luyken, 1987)
Still from De macht der twee (Edward Luyken, 1987)

Experimental film has always been inspired by other art forms, such as music and dance. In recent decades, this development has also been strongly driven by the possibilities offered by the digital age.

From the very beginning, Eye has focused on presenting avant-garde and experimental films. Today, there are weekly screenings under the Eye on Art banner. That’s why experimental film also has a prominent place in the collection: Eye has works from all of the major Dutch experimental filmmakers. Many of these films have been restored and digitized.

Watch experimental films online

You can watch some experimental films from our collection online for free.

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