“Do well with nothing, do better with little and do it now!”
— The Kino motto —
By Julia Baird
You may be one of the people who has never heard of the Kino movement. Let me assure you that it’s not an exercise regime, nor is it a herbal laxative or a self-help philosophy. But interestingly, Kino has quite a bit in common with all three of these things: its practice can result in increased focus, productivity, and vivacity.
The roots of Kino began simply as a pact between friends in Montréal in December 1998. With Y2K looming on the horizon, Christian Laurence and Jericho Jeudy challenged some of their friends to take on the task of creating one short film a month until the fall of the human race on January 1, 2000. After one year and approximately 200 films, the world didn’t end as prophesied and the group was left with an impressive body of work and the desire to continue their collaboration into the next millennium.
The name “Kino” was coined, stemming from the Greek word kinè, which means “movement” and similar words that mean “film” or the “the cinema” in Russian, German, and other languages. Eventually news spread about what was happening in Montréal and Kino “cells” in other cities started to emerge, with each cell operating independently and the Montréal cell acting as the mothership. Today, there are about 50 Kino cells creating monthly films across the globe, mostly in Québec, but also here and there across all five continents.
That brings us to the Toronto cell, known to the world as Kino05. It was founded in August 2004 by Vitalyi Bulichev, who discovered the Kino movement when he lived for a spell in Montréal. After a year of inactivity (due to Vitalyi’s departure to film school), Kino05 was recently re-launched by Irene Cortes, Lauren Di Monte, Michelle Edmunds, Su-Ying Lee, and Cherie O’Connor, who have been hosting monthly film screenings at Camera Bar since March 2008.
I first heard about the Kino movement when I came across the Toronto cell’s call for short films a few years ago. Not being a filmmaker myself, I generally don’t pay much attention to calls for video submissions, but the words making up the Kino motto seemed to leave my computer screen and float into my living room: Do well with nothing, do better with little and do it now! It was a refreshing antidote to a world of procedures and forms and waiting in lines. Make no excuses! Don’t wait for permission! Just create what you want to create ASAP!
Conversing via email with Kino05’s Cherie O’Connor, Lauren DiMonte and Su-Ying Lee, it’s safe to say that Kino’s get-off-your-ass mindset has a lot to do with their involvement. Add creative freedom, critical feedback, collaboration, acceptance of ideas, and a supportive community, the sum you are left with will encompass the experience of belonging to a kino-cell. Says Cherie, “The thing I like best about Kino is the anything-goes philosophy. You can start from nowhere and have a safe place to hone your skills; you won’t be judged. If anything, you are admired for your contribution.”
One-film-per-month may seem like rather demanding goal, but it can be a prescription for silencing doubts and ending unproductive bad habits. The constant impending deadline also encourages filmmaking as a gradual process of discovery instead of working with tunnel vision towards a pre-defined end. “I am forced to produce work without over-thinking it,” wrote Su-Ying, “If I over-think something or give myself too much time, I tend to talk myself out of it. If I produce something quickly for Kino, I debut it there and can always re-work it later. I’m constantly filing imagery in my mind that can become short films.”
Lauren agrees that creating in rapid-fire has helped her to generate and refine her ideas. She also notes the importance of having a non-judgmental environment to screen her work and gain some friendly feedback. “Not all the videos I make every month make it to Kino screenings, but they do act like little sketches that that help me form and work through ideas. This has opened up a new space where I feel comfortable not only making work that is a little bit experimental or strange-but I also feel comfortable showing that work…it’s nice to have a place to screen and discuss work that would otherwise not be seen.”
So what can someone attending a Kino screening for the first time expect to experience? Veteran-attendee Su-Ying Lee sums it up: “A real range of works both local and international as well as a work by some great established guest artists for inspiration. Some work will be more challenging, as is the nature of experimental video/film. There’s everything from narrative, experimental and animation etc. Works can be screened at different stages of progress. Unfinished works may be presented by members who want feedback. They can expect friendly Kino05 members who welcome their attendance and submissions and hope they become regular members.”
If you have a short film idea packed away in the back of your mind, the submission process at Kino05 is quite simple: just show up prior to the start of the monthly screening with a DVD of your short film (less than 10 minutes in length, please). The films will be screened on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure you’re on time! Non-members pay a $5 monthly submission fee and members pay a $25 fee per year, allowing members to submit their films 12 months a year. Other than saving submission fees over the year, members also have the chance to have their works shown internationally at screenings held by other kino-cells and the chance to participate in Kino Kaberets, which are 48-hour filmmaking sprees with an international cultural exchange thrown in to boot. Interested? You’ll find full details here.
That being said, it’s not mandatory to arrive at a Kino screening armed with a DVD of your latest cinematic attempt. Both filmmakers and film-lovers alike are welcome to experience the laughs, gasps, and reflection that come part and parcel with a Kino screening. ”You never know what to expect at a Kino screening,” says Lauren DiMonte, ”The nature of Kino makes it impossible to predict the kind of work you’ll see-and that’s a big part of the fun.”
The next Kino05 screening is Tuesday, July 22 at Camera Bar (1028 Queen Street West).
The show starts at 7:30 p.m., but show up at 7:00 if you’re submitting a film.