Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival (LUFF – pronounced “loof”) who invited me to be on the feature film jury this past October. Now in its thirteenth year, the festival presents a selection of edgy, independent cinema alongside a programme of music and performance spread over five intense days. The constant interplay between different disciplines creates some fascination fusions, a lot of lively debate and some serious alcohol abuse. The festival is not one for lightweights. With the first shows kicking off around 2pm and the last performances finishing around 4am, there’s not much time for sleep. Fortunately I did manage to squeeze in a visit to the nearby museum housing the Collection of Art Brut, an essential experience for anyone passing through the city.
Lausanne, like Switzerland itself, is a very prosperous, very “first world” and very comfortable place and the LUFF represents a violent eruption of the avant garde and the anarchic into the very heart of this most polite of locations. Standing on the terrace of the festival venue (a former casino) and gazing across the misty surface of Lake Geneva to the distant mountains of the Rhone-Alps in France while bass heavy drone and percussive beats erupt from the performance hall below is an alarming but inspiring experience. The festival poster, seen plastered on walls all over town, sums it up: a graphic representation of two spools of celluloid film threaded round a bobbin. It looks, kind of, like a smiley face. But… wait a minute – it also looks like a giant penis.
Impossible to list all the highlights, but here are some of mine: a performance by one of my musical heroes – Morton Subotnick; an unforgettable and moving presentation from Bryan Lewis Saunders and John Duncan (Under the Influence of Torture); Robert Curgenven’s electro acoustic soundscapes. Film wise – the world premier of a feature banned in France in 1968 – Jean-Denis Bonan’s La Femme Bourreau (The Female Executioner); getting to see Trent Harris’s Rubin and Ed on the big screen in 35mm; the French cinematheque programme of archive treasures, including Franco’s Les Demons; introducing Andrew Leavold's The Search for Weng Weng to an audience of 800 screaming fans in Switzerland’s largest theatre; and the winning feature film – Joel Potrykus’s Buzzard, featuring the brilliant Joshua Burge.