The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, 2019)

In 2009, James Benning premiered Ruhr, his first digital feature following nearly 40 years of work produced entirely on 16mm. Coming as it did at the tail end of the Aughts, after two-plus decades of hand-wringing over the slow proliferation of analog and then digital video formats in the world of experimental filmmaking, Ruhr seemed to mark the tipping point for the technology’s wider acceptance. After all, if Benning could embrace digital, why couldn’t we?

If the film versus video debate seems quaint in 2019, it’s not because Ruhr or any other film ushered us into a brave new world where all we’re exposed to is illuminated pixels on a flat surface, but because, if anything, celluloid remains as significant a presence in the experimental film scene as its digital counterpart. The two have even become unlikely bedfellows. As critic and scholar Leo Goldsmith…