The Experimental Film Society (EFS) specialises in creating and showcasing experimental cinema. Founded and directed by Rouzbeh Rashidi, the entity emerged from the former Experimental Film Society collective. EFS focuses on cultivating film projects that embody its unique cinematic perspective, which has been honed over many years as a non-profit collective.
EFS is known for producing films highly committed to personal and experimental cinema. These films take a bold and exploratory approach to filmmaking, emphasising mood, atmosphere, visual rhythms, and the captivating interplay between sound and image. EFS filmmakers don’t just experiment with cinema; they allow cinema to experiment on them, resulting in deeply immersive works that navigate a strange and unsettling territory, simultaneously uncannily familiar and utterly alien. Although the filmmakers associated with EFS come from diverse backgrounds, they all share a willingness to embrace the potential for chaos and the unknown. With its rich tapestry of cinematic impulse, EFS weaves a complex narrative that is as sensory as it is thought-provoking. Its productions echo the haunting alchemical qualities of silent cinema, the pioneering spirit of early cinema and the intellectual depth of classic art films. The influence of these genres is evident in the entity’s ability to convey profound themes through unsettling yet formally perplexed audio-visual filmmaking. EFS also draws heavily from science fiction and horror, using these genres not merely for their thrill but as a conduit to explore more profound existential questions, often through a dystopian and apocalyptic lens. The cosmos and the occult frequently appear, serving as metaphors for the unknown and the inexplicable. At the same time, experimental music and the avant-garde provide a unique aesthetic that challenges conventional standards. These diverse elements combine to create an ominous and bewitching cinematic universe, pushing the boundaries of what film can achieve as an art form.
EFS consistently creates films that redefine the medium’s possibilities by challenging traditional cinema norms. Cinema is presented as a diverse and expansive space encompassing all galaxies and life forms, many of which we can perceive but not fully comprehend.
EFS has played a significant role in the creation and support of numerous no-budget or low-budget feature-length films, as well as a large number of short films. In addition, EFS is known for curating experimental film screenings, showcasing the work of filmmakers and artists closely connected to the organisation nationally and internationally. As part of their efforts, EFS has started organising The Luminous Void Experimental Film Festival, along with performances and talks, leading to many events occurring worldwide.
Founded in 2000 by Rouzbeh Rashidi, EFS initially operated in Tehran, Iran, before relocating to Europe in 2004. To accommodate its growing portfolio of ambitious and professionally funded projects and its EFS Film School, EFS transitioned into an autonomous entity.
The Luminous Void Ouroboros:
Throughout the years, EFS has navigated a voyage marked by significant structural evolutions and major metamorphoses. Its essence, characterized by fluidity, adaptability, and intense elasticity, has consistently provided the means for self-reinvention and reimagination. The philosophy of EFS is one of resilience, repeatedly pushing its boundaries to the point of shattering its core, only to compel it to rise from its own ashes, ensuring its continued existence and growth.
EFS perceives itself as a throbbing entity journeying into the existential void and the oblivion of the cosmos - an embodiment of the luminous void ouroboros. Often considered a symbol of eternal cyclic renewal or a cycle encompassing life, death, and rebirth, this ouroboros-like manifestation carries profound connotations for EFS.
The Evolution and Phases of EFS:
The historical trajectory and evolution of EFS are chronicled here in a series of distinct phases.
From 2000 to 2004, during the Iranian Phase, EFS was in its infancy. As a budding film collective, it was founded in Tehran, Iran, where it grappled with establishing its footing and sought out filmmakers who shared its vision. During this period, EFS's activities were primarily localized and limited in scope.
The years from 2004 to 2017 have marked the Irish Phase. EFS relocated to Ireland, creating a sprawling, pragmatic, and highly efficient network of filmmakers and artists. These individuals regularly collaborated, leading to a high volume of production screenings and events. This Phase stands as the most productive era in EFS's history, particularly regarding the production and distribution of experimental cinema.
In 2017, EFS transitioned into a new phase within its journey, evolving into a film company. This shift facilitated the execution of increasingly ambitious and professionally funded projects that EFS undertook during this period. The company produced a catalogue of highly successful experimental feature films and exhibitions and published two significant books detailing its history and philosophies. This Phase reached its zenith with a major film exhibition celebrating EFS's twentieth anniversary in Ireland.
From 2024 to the present day, EFS is in the International Phase as an Autonomous Entity. In this current stage, EFS has entirely abandoned the structures of a film collective and film company, opting instead for a self-governed artistic doctrine. It no longer confines itself to any specific national identity or geographic location, choosing to embrace its initiatives on a global scale. EFS dedicates all of its energy and focuses solely on producing meticulously selected film projects and nurturing the growth and development of the EFS Film School. The EFS Film School is a dynamic film academy offering alternative and unconventional teaching methods.
Filmmakers & Artists:
Throughout its history, EFS has established a legacy of collaboration, extending support and assistance to an expansive array of filmmakers and artists from all corners of the world. These collaborations have varied in duration; some filmmakers have worked with EFS for a limited period, while others have chosen to maintain their affiliation, sustaining a long-standing cooperation that has endured throughout every phase of EFS's journey. Regardless of the length of their association, each of these extraordinary talents has made invaluable contributions, significantly influencing the evolution and growth of the Experimental Film Society.
At present, a select group of artists are deeply engaged in collaboration with EFS. This includes Maximilian Le Cain, Atoosa Pour Hosseini, Michael Higgins, Jann Clavadetscher, Shelly Sarah Kamiel, Chris O'Neill and Vicky Langan. Rouzbeh Rashidi, a steadfast presence within the organization, continues to helm EFS, guiding its pursuit of innovation and experimental cinema.