Experimental film or avant-garde cinema is a mode of filmmaking that re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms and alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working in filmmaking. Many experimental films relate to arts in other disciplines, such as painting, literature, poetry and dance.

An experimental film is generally characterised by:

  • the absence of a linear narrative
  • the use of abstracting techniques
  • the use of non-diegetic sound
  • the use of a non-narrative, impressionistic, poetic approach to structure

with the goal of drawing the viewer into a more active and thoughtful relationship with the film.

Many experimental filmmakers have also made feature films.

Some notable examples include Lars von TrierNikos NikolaidisJean-Luc GodardSteven SoderberghKathryn BigelowAndy WarholPeter GreenawayDerek JarmanJean CocteauSally PotterDavid Lynch, Jørgen LethPatrick BokanowskiPier Paolo PasoliniSimone Rapisarda Casanova and Luis Buñuel.

However, the extent to which these filmmakers take on mainstream commercial aesthetics appears to differ widely in their work.