I might just have to settle on a term for it. Try explaining to your two year old the difference between experimental film, avant-garde film, poetic cinema, underground film, etc, etc, blah blah blah. He can say "mommy making movies" and "mommy working". But what of the films I like? "Experimental" film seems falsely modest. "Avant-garde" sounds self-important. How about "Film art"? (but in a theater which I prefer over the gallery?) I want to show him a Pat O'Neill film for some reason. What to call it? Yes, Yes, just let it speak for itself, but sometimes a label is required.
It is amazing to see Teo learning a new language- his first of course. I cannot even begin to describe how wondrous it is. He and I are also trying to learn Mandarin and it is as if my brain is fossilled over and nothing penetrates. Teo has the memory and "brain absorption capacity" of a champion. I admire it immensely (and I have a little nostalgia for when I might have had such a spongy brain).
But back to the point of this....What to call those challenging, sometimes beautiful, complex, sometimes difficult, personal, non-commercial, debt-producing films that I love (to watch and make)? It's a tired question that I never bothered with much before (using all terms interchangeably) - well maybe that's the best that we can do since the film work I'm discussing defies fixed language.