Pip Chodorov’s personal journey through avant-garde film history features appearances from Jonas Mekas, Peter Kubelka, Stan Brakhage and Hans Richter.
Free Radicals scratches the surface of the history of avant-garde cinema in Europe and the USA, from early post-war pioneers through to the founding of New York’s Anthology Film Archives, a museum whose screen is the exhibition space. Director Pip Chodorov is well-placed to chronicle the movement – he established the Re:Voir label to distribute tapes and DVDs of artists’ films, and counts many key exponents amongst his friends. In this personal journey through experimental movies, he surveys a generation of artists who pushed the boundaries of the medium. Working without compromise, and without financial reward, they were forced to create their own support structures in an expression of solidarity. While not claiming to be a definitive documentary, Free Radicals is a discerning introduction to the field, and its informal nature provides a privileged glimpse at the personalities involved. Archival footage of Hans Richter, Nam June Paik and Stan Vanderbeek (drawn from TV programmes made by the filmmaker’s father) supplements new interviews with Chodorov’s distinguished acquaintances and generous excerpts from the films themselves.