Film history: Association L’Abominable publishes a catalogue of works
L’Abominable is a non-profit organization that has been operating a very special film lab outside Paris for nearly 20 years. Filmmakers can use the lab to develop and copy their own Super-8, 16mm or 35mm films by means of a largely proprietary technique. L’Abominable is special not only because it is one of the few surviving analogue film labs anywhere, but also because filmmakers can learn the laboratory craft there and pass it on to others. The basic principle is not to provide a service but to offer collective use of the devices. L’Abominable is thus trying to ensure – and this is not to be underestimated – that the knowledge of cinematographic techniques and the requisite skills, which are being lost worldwide as a result of digitization, will be preserved for the future.
Now, with the publication of a catalogue, the organization has made a further contribution to film history. Published early this year, the catalogue lists films that have been processed in full or in part using the film lab’s devices since its founding in 1996. Scrolling through it, one notices what a wide range of works it contains, despite the fact that it is mainly artists and experimental filmmakers who have worked at L’Abo. In order to the structure the catalogue according to film history, the editors have added some articles at the beginning and also asked individual filmmakers to write about their own stories or memories.
Each film has a page dedicated to it in the catalogue and there are over 300 pages. Apart from the historical summaries and filmmaker texts, the catalogue also contains images and an interactive directory of titles and addresses. According to the editors, the catalogue will be updated regularly in future. The first edition, from February 2015, can be downloaded for free as a PDF.
Despite the catalogue’s size, the long period it covers and the diversity of the works, a common approach is discernible, consisting in the mastery of cinematographic techniques as a strategy for economic independence and aesthetic autonomy in artistic filmmaking.