The past thirty years have seen the proliferation of forms of independent cinema that challenge the conventions of mass-market commercial movies from within the movie theater. Avant-Garde Film examines fifteen of the most suggestive and useful films from this film tradition: No. 4 (Bottoms) by Yoko Ono, Wavelength by Michael Snow, Serene Velocity by Ernie Gehr, Print Generation by J. J. Murphy, Standard Gauge by Morgan Fisher, Zorns Lemma by Hollis Frampton, Riddles of the Sphinx by Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, American Dreams by James Benning, The Ties that Bind by Su Friedrich, From the Pole to the Equator by Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, The Carriage Trade by Warren Sonbert, Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio, Naked Spaces - Living in the Round by Trinh T. Minh-ha, Journey from Berlin/1971 by Yvonne Rainer, The Journey by Peter Watkins. Through in-depth readings of these works, Scott MacDonald takes viewers on a critical circumnavigation of the conventions of movie going as seen by filmmakers who have rebelled against the conventions.
MacDonald's discussions do not merely analyse the films; they provide a useful, accessible, jargon-free critical apparatus for viewing avant-garde film and communicate the author's pleasure in exploring 'impenetrable' works.