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Underground: The Funnel Experimental Film Co-op 1977-1988

Free. Tickets available two hours before screening

The best-kept secret of the Canadian film underground remains the Funnel, a fabled experimental film collective that remapped fringe practice in Toronto for a decade by building its own theatres, re-versioning home-movie equipment to produce avant-garde art, and publishing its own articles of faith. Twenty-five years after it folded its tents, the inner sanctums have remained shrouded in a haze of banishments and dark rumours; there have been almost no attempts to tell the story, no retrospective screenings or anniversary toasts. To mark the launch of Mike Hoolboom's monograph Underground: The untold story of the Funnel film collective (published by the Canadian Film Institute), the author presents a programme of films made during the heyday of the Funnel's existence.

Run by a band of hippies-turned-punks, the Funnel was bound by a communal ethos that expressed itself in volunteerism, a shared set of historical codes, and aesthetic benchmarks derived from artists' films, all fuelled by a radically egalitarian decision-making process; more than once, faced with yet another crisis, the entire membership would be summoned for a meeting that no one even imagined ducking. Through it all, they tried to maintain a space for a minor cinema, and the thousand undreamt worlds that these new pictures might make possible. Along the way there were censorship mountains, personality divides, film-versus-video head scratchings and the flowering of community. It's harder to imagine such a thing existing now, this fiercely first-person cinema relying on a collective architecture and shared gear. Was the Funnel a necessary prelude, a final analog embrace before the digital floodtide, a tribal summons? Where had we been all those years anyway — the Underground?

—Mike Hoolboom

Underground: The Funnel Experimental Film Co-op 1977-1988

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