Watch Curated Playlists of Experimental Videos & Films to Get You Through COVID-19: Miranda July, Jan Švankmajer, Guy Maddin & More

When we get sick, many of us habit­u­al­ly use the time away from work and oth­er oblig­a­tions to do the same thing: watch movies. But old favorites and recent releas­es we’d missed our first chance to catch can only last us so long: now, with so much of the world either sick or at home try­ing not to get sick, a com­bi­na­tion of iso­la­tion and uncer­tain­ty about the state of things push­es us to seek out more cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly dar­ing fare. To sat­is­fy this demand, Los Ange­les film­mak­er Kate Lain has cre­at­ed a col­lec­tion called “CABIN FEVER: Cop­ing with COVID-19 playlist of online exper­i­men­tal films & videos,” all of them free to watch online, begun “as an editable Google sheet on March 13 to gath­er some exper­i­men­tal films togeth­er based on moods one might be expe­ri­enc­ing while being cooped up.”

Since then, Lain writes, “the list has mor­phed some, with some great new cat­e­gories being added to the mix.” The most recent ver­sion of the spread­sheet, avail­able in .XSLX and .PDF for­mats, includes such cat­e­gories as “For when you need to laugh or smile,” “For when you’re stuck inside but want to be out­side,” “Ani­mals,” “Plants,” “Nos­tal­gia,” and “Virus movies cuz why not.” (One such movie, Tuzan Wu’s Dis­ease of Man­i­fes­ta­tion, appears at the top of the post.)

With­in these and oth­ers appears the work of such film­mak­ers as Jan Švankma­jer, Miran­da July, Fer­nand Léger (pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture), Man Ray, Maya Deren, and Cindy Sher­man. (Avant-garde enthu­si­asts may also rejoice at the sight of names like Hol­lis Framp­ton, James Ben­ning, and Ken­neth Anger.)

Inspired by Lain’s col­lec­tion, Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Dessane Lopez Cas­sell has “reached out to artists, film­mak­ers, and Hyper­al­ler­gic con­trib­u­tors to assem­ble a list of what we’ve been shar­ing and encoun­ter­ing across our net­works.” Their selec­tions include Afro­nauts, “a lumi­nous short which ren­ders the sto­ry of the Zam­bian Space Pro­gram” — at which we looked back ear­li­er this month — “as a dream­like work of spec­u­la­tive fic­tion”; Bassem Saad’s Saint Rise, about the trans­porta­tion of a stat­ue of Saint Char­bel (“now being her­ald­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive reli­gious media as a heal­er of the Coro­n­avirus,” the film­mak­er adds) to a high moun­tain­top in Faraya, Leba­banon; and Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog (watch in full here and see the trail­er below), described by crit­ic Car­man Tse as “a scene-by-scene recre­ation of Ver­ti­go, made entire­ly of footage from oth­er movies that take place in San Fran­cis­co.”

“There’s an espe­cial­ly fun­ny mon­tage right at the cli­max of the movie that uses Chuck Nor­ris clips,” Tse notes, mak­ing The Green Fog a promis­ing choice for those of us who need to light­en the mood of our iso­la­tion — and who also appre­ci­ate a high den­si­ty of inter-cin­e­mat­ic ref­er­ence. Hail­ing as he does from the noto­ri­ous­ly win­try Cana­di­an city of Win­nipeg, Maddin him­self sure­ly knows a thing or two about how best to amuse one­self dur­ing long peri­ods stuck indoors. Indeed, every artist grow­ing up in cir­cum­stances of iso­la­tion, occa­sion­al or fre­quent, devel­ops a strong appre­ci­a­tion and high­ly refined sense of artis­tic dar­ing, one that unfail­ing­ly shows in their work when it debuts in the wider world. If we take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to expand the depth and breadth of our own view­ing expe­ri­ences, imag­ine how much more astute film­go­ers we’ll be after the pan­dem­ic pass­es.

Find the Cab­in Fever col­lec­tion of exper­i­men­tal videos and films here. It cur­rent­ly has 284 videos on the list. Hyper­all­ger­ic adds yet more here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, etc.

A Page of Mad­ness: The Lost, Avant Garde Mas­ter­piece from Ear­ly Japan­ese Cin­e­ma (1926)

Watch “Bells of Atlantis,” an Exper­i­men­tal Film with Ear­ly Elec­tron­ic Music Fea­tur­ing Anaïs Nin (1952)

The Exper­i­men­tal Abstract Films of Pio­neer­ing Amer­i­can Ani­ma­tor Mary Ellen Bute (1930s-1950s)

Sigour­ney Weaver Stars in a New Exper­i­men­tal Sci-Fi Film: Watch “Rak­ka” Free Online

Use Your Time in Iso­la­tion to Learn Every­thing You’ve Always Want­ed To: Free Online Cours­es, Audio Books, eBooks, Movies, Col­or­ing Books & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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