Experimental Filmmaking and Poetic Cinema

Course Title: Experimental Filmmaking and Poetic Cinema

Organiser: EFS Film School

Tutor: Rouzbeh Rashidi

Duration: Two months (12 sessions)

Date: To be announced

Location: To be announced

City: Berlin, Germany

Course Introduction:

'Experimental Filmmaking and Poetic Cinema' is an immersive, in-depth program conducted in a hands-on environment spanning an intensive two-month period. This all-embracing course offers a profound exploration into the rich history of alternative film and video, a diverse range of artist practices, and groundbreaking methodologies. Moreover, it endows you with the essential knowledge required to embark on your personal journey towards establishing a distinct experimental film practice.

The program is designed as a harmonious blend of film viewings, thought-provoking lectures steeped in poetry and philosophy, engaging discussions, and insightful readings. Students will acquire an understanding of how filmmakers and artists have harnessed film, video, and digital media to experiment with moving images, thereby pushing the medium's boundaries and their perception of the world that surrounds them. The course aims to delve into the ways seminal films and their creators have explored the material and conceptual possibilities of film and video, reshaping our comprehension of what the medium of Cinema can truly embody.

Beyond an intricate examination of the visual elements within these works, students will also focus on the pivotal role that sound design plays in amplifying the impact of these creations. By dissecting these pieces' form, content, and context, students will gain a deeper understanding of how experimental filmmaking has given birth to lyrical, idiosyncratic, and aesthetically radical work. This analysis will serve as an invigorating foundation for students as they venture into creating their own experimental pieces.

This course highlights the growing importance and relevance of personal and lyrical experimental moving image-making and its practices in today's world. It addresses the paradox of the often-overlooked presence of moving images in modern life against the backdrop of the unsettling sociopolitical audio-visual landscape of the 21st century. The course underscores the moving image as a personalised 'memory' and 'perception', subject to constant reconfiguration and updating, thereby fostering a deeper comprehension of its profound significance.

Learning Outcomes:

The course finds its genesis and draws profound inspiration from Rouzbeh Rashidi's Homo Sapiens Project. This ongoing venture symbolises a daring foray into cinematic experimentation, serving as an incubator for visionary filmmaking. Launched in 2000, this avant-garde project has weathered multiple radical transformations over the years, oscillating between systematic evolution and concurrent devolution.

What began as a somewhat idiosyncratic laboratory for experimentation has gradually gained broader resonance and relevance. This shift can be attributed to its deep and insightful exploration of the personal existential human condition and its complex interaction with societal constraints. As a consequence, the course is set to yield several tangible and theoretical outcomes.

The course will involve intensive research into distinctive filmmaking practices and techniques, culminating in the creation of individual and collective moving image works under expert supervision. This journey of discovery will not only augment the understanding of experimental filmmaking but also offer practical experience in crafting such works. Consequently, it equips students with the necessary skills and knowledge for their future endeavours in this dynamic field.

Artist's Choice:

Since the advent of the new millennium in 2000, Rouzbeh Rashidi has assiduously sculpted a radical approach in the sphere of experimental moving images. His work plunges into a deeply personal vision, transmuting everyday spaces and individuals he encounters into a surreal odyssey that expands the constraints of Cinema's transformative prowess. These images mature into personalised 'memories', serving as custodians for both self-identity and perceived reality.

The Homo Sapiens Project (HSP), a perpetually evolving initiative, epitomises the most steadfast manifestation of this process. This unique 'film diary', which originated as a 'laboratory' of cinematic forms, has exhibited an uncanny correlation to issues that have ascended to prominence with the current influx in moving images and film production. It accentuates the escalated existential implications of personally-generated moving images, their irreplaceable role in circumnavigating isolation, alienation, and identity crisis, and their capacity to reshape perceptions of space, memory, and time.

This project also poses a captivating question: how can one sustain a productive filmmaking practice when the traditionally industrial and conventional methodologies of filmmaking fall short in eliciting poetic and transcendental sensory experiences? The course aspires to magnify and draw out such qualities, concentrating on the lyrical, ethereal, and sensory potentials of experimental filmmaking.

Rashidi and HSP have consistently perceived filmmaking in this light, regarding it as a critical tool for personal exploration. This viewpoint, coupled with the exploration and impartation of this ethos, will establish the bedrock of this course.

General Guidelines:

This course is meticulously structured to accommodate a diverse range of participants, including artists from various disciplines, filmmakers, creative spirits, and anyone yearning to acquire an innovative comprehension and practical methodology or enhance their existing prowess in experimental Cinema and artists' moving image practices. We warmly welcome and encourage participation from individuals of all experience levels.

It's pivotal to highlight that this course significantly deviates from a traditional filmmaking course. Conventional courses typically concentrate on fundamental filmmaking tools, techniques, scriptwriting, storytelling, and similar elements. However, this course intentionally sidesteps these elementary approaches. It omits instruction on the day-to-day operations of a camera, editing skills, lighting, or any other technical components. Additionally, there will be no guidance offered on topics such as scriptwriting, character creation, or mastering the craft of screenplays.

Instead, this course delves profoundly into poetics, philosophy, and intuitive mental strategies, fostering a lifelong journey of living and creating within experimental film practice. The overarching goal of this course is to cultivate a deeply personal environment conducive to crafting poetic Cinema.

Please note that the sessions will not encompass instructions on camera operation or editing skills. Instead, we place our confidence in each participant's intuition and creative ingenuity in utilising their unique means of production.

Participants will require access to a device capable of recording video, such as a smartphone or a comparable gadget. Similarly, participants will need to employ basic video editing software programs, for instance, a smartphone editing app or any equivalent program on a MAC or PC. Participants who are at ease working with more professional cameras and editing software and have access to more advanced equipment are also welcome to leverage them based on their specific needs.

Benefits, Methods and Topics of Teaching:

Participants will refine their capacity and methodological, lyrical, and intuitive talents in articulating themselves through sensory and audio-visual artistic modalities.

The tutor will guide students on a profoundly personal and unconventional level, providing insights on capturing, recording, editing, and transforming their materials into unique films. Our student body represents a diverse amalgamation of backgrounds and experiences. While some are seasoned filmmakers with a multitude of films to their credit, others may be venturing into the realm of Cinema and filmmaking for the first time. Irrespective of their initial proficiency, all students will learn how to reinvent and reimagine themselves and their working methodologies, embarking on a journey towards cultivating an intensely poetic vision.

A wealth of reference materials will be provided, including films, essays, books, and web links, serving as invaluable tools for learning and inspiration. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to collectively share their thoughts and concerns as creators, fostering open dialogues about their projects, themes, and concepts.

Participants will gain profound insights into numerous critical dialogues pertinent to the production and distribution of contemporary experimental Cinema. They will learn to weave these ideas into their work through practical tasks, thereby enriching their artistic repertoire. Additionally, the course offers exclusive access to materials from a series of internationally acclaimed film artists currently affiliated with the Experimental Film Society.

Most notably, each student will create and take home a collaborative film and a meticulously planned cinematic group project. These artistic souvenirs from the course will prove invaluable, serving as creative milestones in their future audio-visual endeavours.

Programme (theory and practical):

Theory Side: 'Viewings, Lectures, Discussions and Readings'

Rouzbeh Rashidi has put together these performative lectures and interactive screenings/discussions, drawing from years of experience in filmmaking and theorising. Through teaching these sessions, Rashidi's passion for exploration and experimentation in his filmmaking process becomes apparent. These lectures offer a glimpse into an ongoing and interconnected process of thought and creation, from which the fundamental ideas of Cinema naturally unwind. Rather than presenting a final conclusion, they serve as a snapshot of a continually evolving work that gains momentum and energy with time.

As he puts it, "My journey into the realm of filmmaking commenced in the pivotal year of 2000. From its very genesis, I was entangled by a solitary yet profound concept - the quest to comprehend the essence and significance of Cinema in this fresh millennium. This relentless inquiry has consistently fuelled my desire to innovate, experiment, and plunge into the depth of my idiosyncratic filmmaking laboratory. I do not identify myself as a conventional teacher; my identity is deeply intertwined with being a filmmaker, above all else. Nonetheless, I disseminate my unique perspectives and methodologies related to filmmaking, providing context and enhancing both my creative endeavours and those of others. Beyond that, I extract immense gratification from constructing intricate, poetic, and philosophical dialogues among fellow artists, filmmakers, and myself. As such, I am fervently developing pedagogical strategies that are germane to my work and the manner in which I articulate my thoughts through the medium of Cinema."

Film viewing plays a crucial role in the theoretical part of this program. A substantial portion of the course will be devoted to watching carefully selected examples from the history of Cinema and titles created by artists associated with the Experimental Film Society and Rouzbeh Rashidi. Film viewing is paramount to gaining a complete understanding of the subject matter and ensuring an advantageous learning experience. Therefore, the necessity of screening a diverse array of titles cannot be overstated.

Practical Side: 'Exquisite Corpse Collaborative Film'

Drawing inspiration from a poetic game, Rouzbeh Rashandi and his students bring their creative vision to the viewership through a collaborative film. The artistic endeavour is rooted in the landmark Surrealist and Dadaist movements. The process of completing the film has been part of Rashidi's workshops and college courses since 2020 -- challenging participants to contribute unique pieces (their film segments) to the overall heavily collaborative film assignment. He devised a set of custom rules with particular methodologies, styles, mannerisms and approaches, optimising the journey to the shared finished product.

Screening and Conclusion of the Course:

The 'Exquisite Corpse Collaborative Film' will be showcased in a public venue, such as a cinema or gallery, with professional equipment to ensure an exceptional experience for the audience. This screening event will be free of charge and promoted, as it is a non-profit gathering. Students will have the opportunity to invite their close connections, including friends and family, to witness their films. Following the screening, the filmmakers will engage in a personalised question-and-answer session, providing insights and reflections on their entire journey in the course and the creation of their film. This event marks the culmination of the course.

Weekend Schedule: Programmes for Every Weekend

Weekend 1: Performative Lectures (2 days)

Rouzbeh Rashidi has meticulously curated these performative lectures, drawing upon his experiences from leading the Experimental Film Society for over two decades. As students delve into these teachings, it becomes increasingly clear that a spirit of exploration forms the backbone of Rashidi's filmmaking and teaching process. His unique approach to Cinema is characterised by an ongoing, inseparable fusion of thought and creation, from which the fundamental cinema concepts naturally arise. Consequently, these performative lectures should not be perceived as a final declaration but as dynamic glimpses into a creative work that continually amasses energy and momentum. Students are connected to a vast spectrum of cinematic philosophies, poetics, and ideas by engaging with these lectures. This exposure will ignite their intellectual curiosity and guide them to construct their own ideologies from the fragments left behind by the explosion of these doctrines.

Weekend 2: EFS Films Screening (2 days)

Over two days, Rouzbeh Rashidi will conduct a comprehensive exploration and discussion of his extensive filmography, which includes feature films as well as the Homo Sapiens Project. He intends to peel back the layers of his creative process, revealing the underlying concepts, inventive ideas, distinct technical approaches, and meticulous production techniques that form the backbone of his cinematic work. Furthermore, he will delve into the pragmatic aspects of filmmaking, shedding light on the distribution strategies that have propelled his works to an appreciative audience. To provide a tangible understanding of his craft, Rashidi will present carefully selected examples and samples from films that he has either produced or co-produced in collaboration with filmmakers associated with the Experimental Film Society (EFS). These illustrations will serve to enrich the attendees' understanding of his unique approach to filmmaking. Lastly, Rashidi will elucidate how he has successfully engineered an effective ecosystem and formulated a replicable blueprint within the EFS. This systematic approach has empowered its filmmakers to materialise their creative visions into tangible films and distribute them effectively, thereby reaching a wider audience. By sharing these insights, Rashidi aims to inspire and equip other filmmakers with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the complex world of independent Cinema.

Weekend 3: Screening Experimental Films in the History of Cinema (2 days)

Throughout an immersive two-day session, we will present a meticulously curated selection of avant-garde short films, thought-provoking film essays, poetic documentaries, and intimate video diary films. These works, culled from various pivotal epochs in the annals of cinematic history, represent the spectrum of experimental filmmaking. The screenings will be accompanied by comprehensive discussions, serving as a vital conduit for shaping the students' understanding and fostering a referential discourse about the nuances of experimental Cinema. The aim is to enlighten the students, encouraging them to familiarise themselves with a broad array of experimental cinema examples, thereby broadening their perspective and enhancing their appreciation for this art form. As the course progresses, the films screened during this period will provide a rich source of inspiration and serve as guiding posts for the students. They are expected to draw upon these examples to shape and compose their final film projects, thus allowing the influence of these pioneering works to resonate in their own creations.

Weekend 4: Thematic Sessions (2 days)

In this segment of the course, our students will be given a platform to delve into and present their past creative endeavours, thought processes, artistic concepts, and overarching themes. They will curate an engaging audio-visual portfolio that encapsulates their cinematic pieces, artistic creations, literary works, photographic captures, and an array of other art projects. This casual critique session is meticulously crafted to traverse each student's individualistic artistic cosmos, revealing the crux of their creative practice. Students will come prepared with a diverse range of materials from their filmography, written works, photographic collections, musical compositions, visual art pieces, and any other pertinent resources. These materials are meant to be shared, dissected, and discussed amongst their peers. Through the process of constructive feedback and intellectual discourse, we aim to uncover and highlight each student's artistic inclinations and distinctive traits. We will harness this newfound knowledge to craft a unique aesthetic blueprint that will serve as a guiding light for their short film production. This module will lay a solid conceptual and philosophical groundwork for our collective endeavours, enabling us to build on the student's previous achievements. It will also act as a catalyst, propelling them forward into the next exciting chapter of their filmmaking journey.

Weekend 5: Exquisite Corpse Film Project (1 day)

Following four rigorous weekends filled with theoretical and philosophical lectures, viewings, and discussions, we will seamlessly transition to the hands-on segment of our course: the Exquisite Corpse Film Project. This weekend will be meticulously structured into a series of specific tasks, ensuring an organised and productive learning experience.

We will commence the weekend by providing a comprehensive introduction to the production process of the Exquisite Corpse Film Project. This introduction will delve into an elaborate set of pre-established rules and techniques, offering a detailed roadmap for the participants.

Subsequently, participants will be encouraged to adopt an eclectic approach towards gathering and recording visual and auditory elements for their respective films. This crucial phase of production will take place within the inspiring confines of the Berlin Art Institute, fostering a conducive environment for creative exploration.

Throughout the day, we will explore various techniques that include repurposing found and archival footage, treating previously recorded footage as newfound material, and practising other unique re-appropriation procedures. These methods serve to enhance the participants' understanding of filmmaking and broaden their creative horizons.

Weekend 6: Sound and Image Recording (1 day)

Throughout the day, filmmakers will persist in capturing, amassing, and readying their visual and auditory elements. An enriching one-day field trip has been carefully planned for all participants, with the itinerary spanning one distinct location within the vibrant city of Berlin and its surrounding areas.

These artists, each armed with their unique perspectives, will embark on a journey that transcends the conventional. This expedition, deeply rooted in lyricism, poetry, and intuition, will serve as the ideal platform for them to record captivating footage and intriguing audio materials during these immersive sessions. The experience promises to be a fusion of exploration and creativity, allowing the participants to connect more profoundly with their artistic instincts.

Weekend 7: Evaluation and Editing Process Overview (1 day)

Once the filmmakers have successfully recorded their visual and audio material for the film, they will showcase their creative output within a class setting for an in-depth evaluation, constructive feedback, and stimulating discussion. This process fosters a collaborative learning environment and promotes peer-to-peer learning.

Immediately following this interactive session, participants will plunge into the intricate world of editing and post-production. This stage, crucial to crafting their cinematic narrative, will extend throughout the ensuing week. Participants will be expected to dedicate their free time and adhere to an allocated schedule for post-production tasks, ensuring the timely completion of their projects.

Personalised guidance and vigilant monitoring will be provided throughout class hours to support the filmmakers during this intensive phase. This approach guarantees that each participant receives the necessary assistance and resources to navigate the complexities of film editing and post-production effectively.

Weekend 8: Editing, File Preparation, and Screening (1 Day)

The concluding day of the final weekend will be wholly devoted to completing the films and the final touches of the post-production stage. Filmmakers must deliver their finished films by the end of the designated deadline, marking a significant milestone in their creative journey.

The digital files of each completed film must be entrusted to Rouzbeh Rashidi, who will then meticulously prepare for the grand finale - the screening of these films. This critical handover signifies the culmination of weeks of hard work and the birth of new cinematic narratives.

The remainder of this momentous weekend will be spent readying the final film and the Exquisite Corpse Film Project for projection. This will set the stage for the public question-and-answer session, an interactive platform for the filmmakers to engage with the audience, discuss their creative process, and receive invaluable feedback. The day promises to celebrate creativity, collaboration, and cinematic poetry.


The course lasts for a period of two months or eight weeks.

Classes will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the first month, totalling eight sessions.

In the second and final month, classes will take place only on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., amounting to four sessions.

In total, there will be 12 sessions and a final screening event at the end of the course.


Age Requirement: You must be at least 18 years old to enrol in this course.

Language: This course is conducted in English. Language Code: EN-GB

Tuition Fee: Total Cost: €1950 (One-time payment only), excluding accommodation arrangements.


To enrol in the course, submit a one-minute short film, video work, moving image experiment, or footage. Alternatively, you can send a video recording introducing yourself, explaining your background, and expressing your motivation to join this specific course. Through this, we aim to form a cohesive community of like-minded artists and individuals who mutually inspire each other and foster close collaboration.