Every couple of years, I teach a course on “Minor Cinemas,” which takes the concept of “minor” literature from Deleuze and Guattari and explores whether/how the concept might be useful for thinking about a range of film practices. When I began teaching the course about six years ago, I included a week on “short cinema,” in which I taught a smattering of advertisements, music videos, and trailers.
On April 21, 2011, a twenty-two-year-old Basque film student named Aitor Gametxo uploaded this remix of D.W. Griffith’s one-reel Sunbeam (1912) to Vimeo:
Variation on the Sunbeam (Aitor Gametxo, 2011)
By the end of August 2011, Variation on the Sunbeam had begun to attract the attention of cinéphiles, professional scholars, and film historians. On August 31, Kevin Lee celebrated the work as “remix video at its best.” On September 5, Kristin Thompson posted the film—in a “bid to help it go viral”—on the blog she shares with David Bordwell, Observations on Film Art. On September 6, Roger Ebert tweeted about Gametxo’s Variation with a hat-tip and link to Thompson and Bordwell. On September 8, Luke McKernan shared the “singularly inventive film” on Bioscope, a blog dedicated to silent cinema.