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Minimalen 2024

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Mid Nordic Visual Lab, in collaboration with Minimalen, invites to a deep focus on Machinima in three parts with introduction and Q&A, and a workshop.

Machinima is the practice of creating moving images using video games or game engines. It was born in the 90s in the gamer community as a form of amateur narrative film production, but by now has also become an important medium for contemporary artists and experimental filmmakers. Being very versatile, machinima can resemble animated movies, documentaries, online performances, puppet theatre, music videos and many other things. It is typical that video games are considered as something not too serious and belonging to mass entertainment, although one cannot but admit that they play an ever-increasing role in the life of modern society. The gamification of reality is visible everywhere, from education to the military industry. Machinima is thus becoming an important tool for reflecting on these changes, as well as a way of artistically exploring virtual worlds. This focus section is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of machinima properties, but offers a glimpse of what can happen beyond gameplay when an artist picks up a controller.

Mid Nordic Visual Lab brings together the film and game industry in the regions of Trøndelag, Jämtland and Västernorrland. The project aims to create synergies between the film and gaming industries based on script/storytelling. The purpose is to make visible the entire audiovisual industry, strengthen the artistic and creative capital that exists, and position the common creative region.


Curation & texts by Vladimir Nadein and Dmitry Frolov. A broader Machinima focus was originally commissioned by The 69th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2023.
Vladimir Nadein (b. 1993, RUS) is a curator, artist and film producer.
Dmitry Frolov (b. 1988, RUS) is an art and film curator and researcher.


MACHINIMA 1 (Total: 68 min.)
CINE - TOR | THUR 17:00

MACHINIMA 1: Replay! Resist!

The idea of machinima as a misuse of video games and as an artistic tool for criticism.

Counter-gaming is a term coined by philosopher Alexander Galloway that refers to various subversive practices and describes the desire of artist-players to misuse a computer game for something else. No wonder that it is often utilised to challenge or criticise the rules, ideology, or core principles inherent in virtual spaces. This has become especially relevant recently as new games become hyper-realistic and incorporate a lot of structures from reality into their open worlds, such as economic relationships or power mechanics. Machinima is also a form of counter-gaming that can help to reveal the capitalist strategies, online consumerism, racism or colonialism concealed beneath the surface of mainstream digital environments.

AUT 2022 | Exp.Ani. | 20 min.
Directors: Total Refusal
(Robin Klengel, Susanna Flock, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf)


Non-player characters, which normally remain in the background of video games, are put in the spotlight in this essay film. Creating a semblance of normality, they appear as Sisyphus machines, whose labour routines, activity patterns as well as malfunctions paint a vivid analogy for work under capitalism. Winner of the European Film Awards 2023 in the Short Film category.

Script, Editing: Total Refusal
Music: Andrian Jonas Haim

Production: Total Refusal

DEU | Exp.Ani. | 2021 | 10 min.
Director: Grayson Earle


This desktop documentary investigates the relationships between police officers in GTA V. Through an exhaustive forensic analysis of the game’s source code, it demonstrates the extent to which the cultural imaginary concerning the real world police is projected into the game space.

Editing: Grayson Earle

Production: Deniz Tortum

AUS 2019 | Exp.Ani. | 5 min
Director: George Roxby-Smith


Second Life, a virtual world that has been online for over 15 years, has over 800,000 active users. They spend nearly $5 million a year on the marketplace upgrading their digital skins, hair, bodies, apparel and homes. This desire to present the best self drives the ego into the endless loop of consumerism.

Editing: George Roxby-Smith

Production: George Roxby-Smith

HKG 2021 | Exp.Ani.Doc. | 34 min
Director: Edwin Lo Yun Ting


Going deep into the American soil conveyed in the video game Far Cry 5, this multifaceted essay film explores the intersection of religious survivalism, digital landscapes, and Native American testimony. It raises questions of colonisation, land, race, violence, and cultural appropriation in video games.

Editing: Edwin Lo Yun Ting

Production: Edwin Lo Yun Ting



MACHINIMA 2 (Total: 67 min.)
CINE - FRE | FRI 17:00

MACHINIMA 2: Just Pixels?

Issues of digital corporeality and identity, and the fixation of virtual experience.

Digital images and objects in video games are often associated with something ephemeral. The more time people spend in these virtual spaces, however, the more real this experience becomes. By controlling their avatar, users can feel quite strong emotions and sensations, both on a bodily and mental level. For example, they may develop romantic relationships with other players and longing for a virtual home, or undergo many forms of violence. Machinima can unveil this complex connection between a gamer’s identity and the game environment, or track patterns of online social behaviour through participant observation. Moreover, having screen recording technology at its core, this artistic medium allows us to capture the unique events and short-lived digital objects that may disappear after another system update. Can we still arrogantly say ”it’s just pixels”, or is it more than that?

FRA 2017 | Exp.Ani. | 34 min.
Directors: Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, Quentin L'helgoualc'h


A character from David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, film director Adam Kesher, ventures to Los Santos in GTA V to explore the potential of this space as a context for making a documentary. He plans to explore digital Hollywood in order to make a film not about the game, but in the game.

Script: Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, Quentin L'helgoualc'h
Production: ESBA-MOCO

AUS, GBR 2021 | Exp.Ani. | 17 min.
Director: Marie Foulston


A group of players venture beyond the game's boundaries and discover a captivating, ethereal space that reveals the humanity and materiality of digital creations. This peek behind the curtain of the virtual world allows to capture a unique experience that transcends the game itself.

Editing: Luke Neher
Music: Sam Gill, Luke Neher

Production: Nick Murray, Marie Foulston

USA 2021 | Exp.Ani. | 6 min.
Director: Carson Lynn


A machinima film presented as a fireside dialogue between the filmmaker and their avatar, and the many forms it can take. By blurring the boundaries between game spaces, they sought to explore the complex relationship with these virtual environments that serve as sites of both trauma and discovery.

Script:Carson Lynn
Music: Carson Lynn

Production: Carson Lynn

GBR 2021 | Exp.Ani. | 10 min.
Director: Sam Crane


Sam Crane approaches other gamers in GTA Online and tries to perform Shakespeare's The Tempest. Will everyone he meets try to blow him up? Or can he find someone to listen to these words written over 400 years ago and perhaps reveal a glimmer of humanity inside this world of chaos and extreme violence?

Script: Sam Crane, William Shakespeare
Cast: Sam Crane, Mark Oosterveen
Editing: Sam Crane

Production: Sam Crane


MACHINIMA 3 (Total: 71 min.)
CINE - LØR | SAT 17:00

MACHINIMA 3: How are you feeling today?

Juxtaposition of video games as essentially human activities and artificial intelligence
(and sometimes hostile digital environment).

Recent developments in digital technologies and artificial intelligence have brought humanity closer to a point beyond which technological progress may become so rapid that it will cease to be accessible to human understanding. It is already possible to observe how much our psyche, social structures and patterns of behaviour are changing. We may feel nostalgic for outdated computer games or alienated in commercialised virtual worlds. At the same time we are endowed with unprecedented power and are capable of writing a novel in half an hour or creating deep-fake images. People tend to project more and more essentially human traits onto cybernetic beings, and Youtube is already full of videos of users making Siri and Alexa talk to each other or gamers asking AI-controlled smart NPCs (i.e. non-playable characters in video games) about their personal problems. Once again we are faced with the old question: will the machines be able to feel anything?

Canada 2011 | Exp.Ani. | 14 min
Director: Jon Rafman


A dedication to Chinatown Fair, one of the last video game arcades in America. The film follows a narrator in a virtual world who reminisces about his days as a pro-gamer. It portrays the tension between regret for the time spent playing in vain and feels nostalgia for the thrill of the game.

Script: Jon Rafman
Editing: Jon Rafman, Nicholas Martin
Music: Nicholas Martin

Production: Johanne Bergeron (NFB)

USA 2022 | Exp.Ani. | 37 min
Director: Jacky Connoly


A woman is alone in her apartment in an empty, abandoned world. This opens onto a story of a woman in an alternate timeline, on a journey through California. She rides freight trains, explores hidden corners of the city, and encounters strange happenings along the way.

Script, Editing: Jacky Connoly
Production: Jacky Connoly

ITA 2022 | Exp.Ani. | 9 min
Director: Andrea Gatopoulos


It's New Year's Eve. Jim and Morten play video games all night long, just like they do every day. But their regular voice chat conversation is not the same as usual. Tonight, Morten is not feeling comfortable.

Script, Editing: Andrea Gatopoulos
Cast: Jim Muzungu, Morten Hakke

Production: Il Varco Cinema, Naffintusi, Nieminem Film

GBR 2022 | Exp.Ani. | 11 min
Director: Lawrence Lek


In the smart city of SimBeijing, a self-driving police car confronts their existential troubles with their built-in AI therapist. While patrolling the streets of this ghost town, the car reveals the darker reasons behind why it was abandoned.

Script, Editing: Lawrence Lek
Music: Kode9, Lawrence Lek
Cast: Joni Zhu

Production: Lawrence Lek


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