Leeds’ showcase for “underground cinema, do-it-yourself, unconventional filmmaking and independent films by local and international filmmakers” delivers on the promise of its moniker, having offered a stripped-down, boundary-pushing cinematic experience since 2012. No/Gloss was conceived as a space in which unheralded work can find a forum beyond the shop window logic which dictates mainstream festivals. The festival is intended not as a glorified trade fair, but a celebration of those singular cinematic voices which are so often drowned out by the conspicuous glamour, inflated PR budgets, and ubiquitous corporate patronage of the festival circuit. The onus is on championing an artist’s untrammelled vision, work which refuses to adhere to the demands of prevailing trends or commerce.
In keeping with this ethos, the location of the festival is one which dispenses with the red carpet and fosters a sense of artistic communion in a unique environment. This year’s festival takes place at Canal Mills, an 18th century former textile mill—the festival has previously taken place in a Grade II listed building and a former pork pie factory. In its setting and the scope of work on show, No/Gloss is a celebration of the offbeat. Diversity is the key: the festival will be screening features, shorts, documentaries, animation, arthouse, music videos, student, and experimental films. The selection process is “not prejudiced towards professional quality, famous personalities, or adherence to strict technical methodologies”. This levelling impulse has created a valuable outlet for films which would otherwise be inaccessible to those who value the communal component of the viewing experience.
No/Gloss is a truly international affair, with a specially curated slate of forty-two films from fourteen countries. This year’s selections include Chloé Galibert-Laîné’s Kafka adaptation The Burrow; Alexander Carson’s ’90s inflected O, Brazen Age; Cati Gonzalez’s realist street hustler drama Ekaj; Iñaki Sagastume’s ‘provocative poetry film’ X-Film; David Aguilar’s meditation on death Mara Mara; Chris Lewort’s art scene mockumentary The Art Bastard Show; Jelena Sinik’s split-screen animation of T.S. Eliot’s poetry Imagining Time; and Iqbal Mohammed’s Oscar long-listed short Three Minute Warning (whose makers were recently interviewed in a piece for TSOTA). What unifies these seemingly disparate works is the uncompromising clarity of their authorial voice, and they all find a home under the broad umbrella of No/Gloss’s auspices. The festival will also feature panels and workshops, with guest speakers providing an insight into their craft.
No/Gloss is a completely DIY endeavour which receives no corporate sponsorship. This may present a pecuniary challenge, but it also affords the festival’s organisers the freedom to pursue their own artistic agenda. Rather than pandering to the whims of sponsors, the festival has instead forged links with similarly independent local businesses. The festival’s merchandise is locally produced, while food and drink will be provided by local businesses like Manjit’s Kitchen and The Northern Monk Brewery. Keen to integrate itself into the wider artistic community, No/Gloss has partnered with The Art Hostel Leeds—the first ‘art hostel’ of its kind in the UK, providing a bespoke environment for independent artists, a creative hub which prides itself on being “an alternative tourist information centre”.
In an era when genuinely independent cinema is increasingly being marginalised by a creeping uniformity, it is heartening to see the success of a platform devoted to work which falls beyond the parameters of commercial expediency, honouring creation for its own sake. For around the price of a ticket to the multiplex, you can immerse yourself in the distinct and unpredictable world of ‘weird films’.
No/Gloss takes place on the 22nd and 23rd of October. For more information see the festival’s website.
Filed under: Film, TV & TechTagged with: Alexander Carson, Brazen Age, canal mills, Cati Gonzalez, Chloé Galibert-Laîné, Chris Lewort, David Aguilar, Ekaj, Imagining Time, Iñaki Sagastume, Iqbal Mohammed, Jelena Sinik, Manjit's Kitchen, Mara Mara, No Gloss, No/Gloss, O, T.S. Eliot, The Art Bastard Show, The Burrow, The Northern Monk Brewery, Three Minute Warning, X-Film