BBC Culture

Talking Movies

Are experimental films elitist?

About the author

Rebecca Laurence is the deputy editor of BBC Culture.

The art form is often criticised for being too abstract for a mainstream audience. But in the UK, many filmmakers are focussing on issues that affect real people.

British experimental film has a long tradition of engagement with political and social issues and this goes against a common misconception: that the art form is irrelevant to mainstream audiences.

From its origins with the London Filmmakers Cooperative through to the present day, there have been artist and avant-garde filmmakers who have focused on the lives of ordinary people.

BBC Culture’s Rebecca Laurence discusses trends in British experimental film with the London Film Festival’s Experimenta programmer, Helen de Witt. And Andrea Luka Zimmerman, a prominent filmmaker based in Britain, discusses her socially-engaged work, which uses “storytelling creatively in order to show histories that are so often overlooked”.

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