From Iceland — The Cinematic Laboratory

The Cinematic Laboratory

Published September 26, 2008

Filmmakers experiment with time

The Cinematic Laboratory

Filmmakers experiment with time

Sylvain Lavigne from Montreal, along with his two collaborators, Ianic Mathieu and Janick Lavoie, has launched an event called the Grettir Kabarett. The Canadian based Kino organisation invites members from around the world to meet in Reykjavik to collaborate with local artists, filmmakers, actors, and musicians in order to make films in 72 hours.

The Hypothesis
According to legend, Kino started in early 1999 in Montreal when a simple bet was waged between friends: produce an original short film every month until the new millennium and the end of the world. A year later, they were disappointed to learn that the Apocalypse had been postponed, but true to their word, and two hundred short films later, the Kino concept was born.

Laboratory Theatre is always a challenge. Fuelled on a creative spirit and founded on buzzwords like ‘Organic’ ‘Fused’ and ‘Collaborative’, the European trend for time-based devised theatre has bred its way around the world.  Thankfully, this idea has finally found its way into interactive film events, where half the joy is not in the finished article, it is in the art of making of the work itself.

The Formula
Every morning during the Kino Kabaret, a brainstorming session takes place at the ‘Kinolab’- a veritable ‘Bat Cave’ for filmmakers. The teams are formed and the rest is left to cinematic chance. “It’s like putting a party together.” Sylvain comments “You know where and when and what to bring, but then you have go with the flow.” Collaboration between the hosting city’s artists and the Kinoïtes (Kino members) is the ultimate goal.

The challenge for these newly formed teams is to produce forty-five minutes of original programming with no fighting or using pre-made dialogue, scripts or footage. “Inspired by kinè, a Greek word meaning movement, KINO is Independence and Freedom of Expression.” Their mission is to assemble artists who believe that the importance of a cinematographic work does not rest on the amount of its production budget; the real test is in the simultaneous fusion of different egos, creative visions and improvisational work styles.

The Catalyst
When a lab experiment is finished, there is always an unveiling. The catalyst for great Kino film is the challenge to have the films complete for open screenings hosted by the Kinoïtes every seventy-two hours. As well as releasing their fledgling films into the Kabaret ambiance with cocktails and constructive criticism, each director is encouraged to muse over their new work and answer questions about their journeys and respective methodologies.

The Results 
As creativity goes, it is better to expect the unexpected. “There are gems and crap, you invite everyone and they give it their best shot.” Sylvain explains “It’s part of the spirit of the event, there are wonderful surprises. In Berlin there was a French breadmaker who got inspired by a screening, and decided he wanted to make a Kino. It wasn’t the most wonderful piece, but it wasn’t bad. Now he can go back to his bakery, and say he made a film- that’s a wonderful thing. Another guy came across the Reykjavik Kabaret, got adopted by a group and ended up in front of the camera–he now has an agent and is working in television.” Although Kino does not promise automatic stardom or baked goods, it can offer a new challenge for film and theatre artists from various backgrounds around the world, and a great chance to share talents with a public audience.

The Kino Kabaret is a year-long organization with over fifty independently running chapters in fourteen countries and four continents. The fifth annual Reykjavik International Film Festival (September 25-October 5, 2008) is host to this year’s Kabaret. For more information please see

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