Walter Ruttmann

Lichtspiel Opus I (1921)

Like Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling, Walter Ruttmann was an early pioneer of experimental film in Germany. After studying architecture and having worked as a graphic designer, he began working in film in the early 1920s. "Opus I" was his first abstract short film. Ruttmann would often play the cello at screenings of his films, and pioneered several animation techniques, including the use of wax plates. Ruttman later went on to work with Leni Riefenstahl, editing "Olympiad" in 1936, and was killed during World War II while making a newsreel.

Mara Mattuschka

Kaiser Schnitt (1987)

Sofia born, Vienna based filmmaker Mara Mattuschka has made her body both a medium and a site in her tenebrous and theatrical short films since the early 80s. Through her alter-ego Mimi Minus, she has herself shaved, wrapped in fabric, deformed via manipulated effects, or as in the case of Kaiser Schnitt, operated on.

Abbas Kiarostami

Two Solutions for One Problem (1975)

Two Solutions for One Problem is one of the acclaimed Iranian director's first shorts, made after his work as a director of TV commercials and produced by a state organisation called the Centre for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, or Kanun. A moralistic, pedagogical tale of two schoolboys who get into a fight after one of them, Dara, returns a borrowed book with a torn cover, the film was made two years before Kiarostami's debut feature The Report [1977].

Peter Greenaway

Windows (1974)

In a small English country parish in 1973, several people have died as a result of falling from windows in Greenaway's short film. Greenaway had learned of stories from apartheid South Africa involving political prisoners dying in suspicious cases of 'defenestration'. His satirical faux documentary about window washers and aeronautics students--keeping with Greenaway's highly dense but false historical narratives--was made partly in his own country home and features the music of Jean-Philippe Rameau as its soundtrack.

Germaine Dulac

The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928)

Along with being a central figure in the French avant-garde of the 1920s, Germaine Dulac was its only female director and the first decidedly feminist filmmaker, her debut film Mort du soleil (Death of the Sun, 1921) centered around a young female doctor torn between her career and the demands of family life.

Dulac had been a photographer and writer for feminist journals at the turn of the century, and founded her own production company, focused mostly on melodramas, in the mid-1910s. She was also active as a critic and theorist, writing early formative texts on avant-garde film.

The first surrealist film, The Seashell and the Clergyman was based on a scenario by Antonin Artaud, and made a year before Un Chien Andalou by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.

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Part III

Peter Tscherkassky

Manufraktur (1985)

Manufraktur was Tscherkassky's first 35mm film, made from found-footage manipulated on an optical printer as well as sequences of still film.

Sergei Eisenstein

Dnevik Glumova (1923)

Eisenstein's first film, made at the dawn of Soviet cinema, Dnevik Glumova is comprised of a series of short filmed sketches--part Futurist, part comic fantasy--that were inserted into his stage production of Alexander Ostrovsky's Tartuffe-like 19th century play "Even A Wise Man Stumbles."

René Laloux

Les Temps Mort (1964)
with Roland Topor

A satirical if disturbing meditation on death and humanity, the late René Laloux's Les Temps Mort features the cross-hatched, macabre drawings of illustrator and writer Roland Topor, whose novel The Tenant was adapted by Roman Polanski in 1976. The duo is best known for their classic film, "Fantastic Planet."