lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

05 September, 2010

We are the 27

We are the ones at the coffeshop with red eyes, sighing and ordering an espresso, because we got up at 6 AM after four hours of sleep to see the morning film, because we just had to see the midnight film and well.. after that the discussion at the kitchen table took another few hours, no to mention the starspotting we did on the way home. We are the people next to you sleeping off a boring film or a unbearable scene. Yes, it is us next to you, who start every conversation with the question: “so how did you like the film” or “what are you going to see today?”. And yes, it was us who bumped into you whilst trying to make it from pala biennale to sala grande in 5 minutes. Sorry about that, but bear with us, only 6 days left...

Independent American Cinema

Today's topic of our panel discussion was 'What has happened to independent American cinema'. We were joined by Paul Gordon, writer and director of the independently produced film The Happy Poet. We were also joined by Stephen Gaydos, producer and film critic.

Giorgio started, explaining how American cinema has changed, and there is no more real independent cinema. After a revival of American independent cinema in the mid 80's, it can now be argued that American independent filmmaking is dead, because there is no more money in it. In Europe, independent filmmaking is very much alive, thanks to governmental and public funding.

Then Stephen explained how in his opinion there is no real independent cinema or commercial cinema, because the boundaries have blurred and every film is essentially commercial. Of course every film is commercial, in a sense that every film costs (a lot of) money to make. But when we talk about art, we feel that there is an importance differentiating between films that are produced by studios and those that aren't. Independent and studio filmmaking differ slightly in their methods and therefore there is an importance acknowledging the context of the production. Also, independent filmmakers, like in Europe, have more freedom creating films. Paul Gordon explained how a filmmaker always needs to commercialize his film in a certain way to get it produced by a company, and that this is a problem he sometimes struggles with. For independent filmmakers, there is always a tension between commercial factors and individual freedom.

We feel that, besides commercial factors and individual freedom, there is a third factor that has to be taken into account: the ability to be critical. In a lot of European countries, independent filmmakers are the ones who are able to be critical of current society. This is a big and important responsibility for filmmakers. In Hollywood, this factor might be troubled by commercial factors. American Independent cinema is therefore very important, not only to be critical of society, but also of Hollywood itself.

Mirjam van der Veldt and Conall Ó Duibhir

Nick Shaw - first post

This is my first post for the 27 Times Cinema blog so I’ll quickly take this opportunity to say how privileged me and my 26 fellow jurors are to be here. Although not even halfway through our stay here, I’ve rarely had a more intensely educational end stimulating experience. So thank you to all who have worked so hard to make this programme happen.

So far, I’ve seen plenty of films, and given the wide variation in the tastes of my fellow jurors, the relentless schedule has been coupled with lively debates that have accompanied the short walks from venue to venue.

Yesterday I spoke as a representative of the 27 on the panel in a Venice Days panel discussion on the subject of “The Soul of Cinema: Memory and Roots’’. I took the opportunity to open discussion towards my colleagues more often than in the previous discussions so that we could incorporate our youthful perspective on the Venice days programme into the debate. I was very pleased that Pappi Corsicato raised the importance to writing of a total investigation of the auteur’s own memory to develop their voice, and illustrated using the example of Proust’s A La Recherche De Temps Perdu – the madeleine that can spark the memory and open the doors to creativity. I enjoyed how highlighting such an awareness of memory and roots in this way reminded Marion Hansel that many different artforms contribute to the identity of the film-maker.

Today’s discussion on the state of American independent film was a little more focused on the economics of the industry from an international perspective. I have always tried to remain aware of the tension between those who believe that cinema is an artform that must also be a business, and those who believe that is a business that must also be artistically worthy. It was lively and reminded me of one of the unique idiosyncrasies that I love about cinema.

Film as a common memory?

Memory. Memory and Roots. Roots and memory. How do films influence them? What role films play in this context? Today in our conversation, two really interesting statements have been made.

First things first, there is no discussion for me that memory is important, and that, indeed, it was ignorance that made crimes like the Shoah possible. But let's not talk about that.

Nick made a statement that information and knowledge is now instantaneously available everywhere everytime makes information less valuable. If someone wants to know something, he just can look it up on his iPhone and use this information and forget about it. When I was a child, I asked my parents stuff, and if they did not know, they checked it, and it took a few hours to get the information. This in the end meant that the information became more valuable and thus more resistant in my memory. Now information is more in quantity, but it seems to become more disposable too.

The other statement made by Myriam was that she believes that her memory will not be formed of facts, but more of emotions. She thinks, for example, that she won't remember which films she has seen in Venice, but she will remember how she felt in Venice.

This left me with a thought: Film forces you to sit down for 90 minutes, 2 hours, sometimes more, sometimes less, and receive the information. It is a dark room, and mostly communication with the outside seems restricted. A perfect place to receive information, and possibly to save it longer, as the acquiring of the information is a much more intense process than looking something up on Wikipedia.

But then, film makes you also feel very strongly. Could it be that film could be the glue which can link information to our emotion-based memory? If we remember emotions better than information, we should accept that, and develop the links between information and emotion.

That way, directors receive a very important role: They choose important subjects, and create the information-emotion complex film from these subjects. Of course this contains also a big danger: bias and subjective points of view question the value of information. Especially in a situation where a government can decide on films and funding, this would allow these instances of influencing history.

But then, I guess, that's what's been happening with history over and over again.

It is hard to say wether this is a responsibilty we should put on filmmakers, and if they are ready to take this responsibility. But even if they did, there would still be an ultimate responsibility with the viewer of the film, as he will always have to question films and critically reflect on them.

Il sangue verde and its anthropocentric messages

Having watched Il Sangue Verde I was really impressed by the idea that those powerless - tabooed from mainstream society human beings – would ever had the chance of manifesting and unfolding explicitly their thoughts and feelings concerning their everyday personal experiences and agonies. Through a sequence of realistic testimonials, immigrants vividly portray their pathos as well as their traumatic experiences and their persona-non-grata role within our typical “civilized” society. They describe the “us” versus “them” mentality that largely exists in western societies, that is the attitude of the “rational” dominant majority - which claims its superiority as a result of its social status which is essentially based on economic and political power – against the powerless minorities which are characterized by a low per capita income, less opportunities for education and generally a less developed regime. Therefore, there is a controversial debate between the “civilized” and the “uncivilized”, the “noble” and the “savage”, the “rich” and the “poor”, the “legitimate” and the “illegitimate”, the “lucky” and the “unlucky”. Obviously, for the majority of western type societies where nationalism and capitalism but also individualism grows as a normal state of affairs, there is no capacity for at least approaching these immigrants as equal human beings as we are, hence, from that logic the exploitation and biases – which vary in form - occur. The screening of this film coincides with the European Year for combating poverty and social exclusion. It is up to us to listen and learn from the feeble voices of these socially excluded persons for the sake of building and reinforcing a more humanitarian world which essentially understands that the concept of “race” is socially constructed and that ultimately there is one kind of race, the human one.

SCHEDULE - Sunday, September 5th

27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
Whatever happened to independent American cinema?

Sala Darsena
Followed by Q&A

Discussion 3 - The soul of cinema: memory and roots

The third of the debates within the framework of the 27 Times Cinema initiative was moderated by Giorgio Gosetti (Delegate General of Venice Days), who presented directors Daniele Segre (Lisetta Carmi, un’anima in cammino), Marion Hänsel (Noir Océan) and Pappi Corsicato (Capo Dio Monte).