Ika-34 Jury Statement: Experimental Category

January 25, 2023

We, the jury, have decided to choose three main winners and not rank them. Whilst we believe in the importance of recognising excellence in works of art, we strongly feel that ranking (particularly pieces that are experimental in nature) is quite one-dimensional. The films we have chosen are structured in many different ways — using a multitude of approaches, techniques and sensibilities that are essentially not superior to the other. Since these films achieved excellence on their own terms and are inherently multifarious, we deem it wrong to rank them against each other. To do so is incoherent to our understanding of how art is made, or even to our understanding of excellence itself. 

We are very pleased that the majority of the films submitted address socio-political issues that are extremely important, urgent and relevant to the current times. These were explored in various levels and facets —from the personal sphere to the wider viewpoints on the country’s history, societal problems and environmental concerns constantly plaguing us. 

We are impressed by the number of submissions highlighting our diverse ethnolinguistic groups. We hope that this is something that will continually grow, flourish and eventually be normalised.

We like the fact that sound seems to be getting more attention these days. Though there are still many films that slap a single piece of music over brilliant editing and cinematography, there are several that showed a heightened awareness of how sound could be effectively used. A few films also utilised the power of silence to strongly evoke the message they want to get across.

It is also worth mentioning that there’s a significant amount of films that are performative and body-based, delving into performance art practice and some we think could be excellent installation pieces. Diverse interpretations of technology communications and media platforms are manifesting in a number of films submitted - an indication of how people’s lives have moved even more deeply online. Foregoing the ill-effects of the latter, overall, we find the two observations quite exciting, as it is expanding further notions, traditions and conventions of experimental films. Having said this, we also find it disappointing that there are a number of films that were haphazardly classified by the filmmakers into the experimental category for the sheer reason that the films are mildly unconventional and don’t fit the more traditional perception of the other more established categories. 

Until our idea of ‘narrative’ expands beyond the realist conventions that dominate the commercial filmscape, mildly unconventional films will continue to be shoved under the category of experimental. The problem does not lie with experimental films being too weird or eccentric, it seems to be with our narrow idea of what narrative film is and can be —which applies equally to other categories. For this reason, we feel there’s an urgent need to hold talks and sharing sessions on various aspects of experimental films. 

In conclusion, we want to say to the filmmakers who didn’t get any formal recognition or award this time to keep making films! A lot of the films are great, we just couldn’t give you all awards. This is the nature and reality of competitions such as this. Remember that this doesn’t necessarily define the worth of your films and definitely not your value as a filmmaker.

The Experimental Jury:


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