03 septembre 2009

Light Speed Zero

In a more or less dystopian interpretation of the cold war, Ray Bradbury depicted the crime against culture with an auto-da-fé for literature. Books and books cremated like as many Jeanne d'Arc. In a disconcerting act of Pataphysics, the firemen in Fahrenheit 451 took the name of their job a little too literally and substituted the salvaging water of their hose with a destroying fire. The only hope for humanity to save the "library of Alexandria" from ashes was to memorize every book by heart and carry them clandestinely inside your head. Vagabonds with a mind full of literature masterpieces, walking an Earth without a single book left to read. A drastic return to oral tradition when culture was transmitted from one mouth to one ear, every day and every year, repeatedly, until the younger generation is ready to pass it on to the new-born generations.

They say when an old man dies, it's like if a library is burning down. But Nika Bohinc (Ekran) and Alexis Tioseco (Criticine) were not old yet. Unbelievable tragedy!
« Pour faire un film, il vous faut obligatoirement une fille et un pistolet » in Histoire(s) du cinéma. Why did Godard ever utter this nonsense ?
A book can always be copied, reprinted, handwritten, recited, learnt by heart. Censorship has always had a hard time to suppress literature. But when the light doesn't shine through the celluloid, a film dies completely, definitively. When eyelids shut down forever at the touch of a bullet, cinema ceases to exist abruptly; not only an instant death, but any evidence it ever had been disappears at the same time. Unfortunately images are transient figments of our memory. We can't photocopy, rewrite, memorize a film when the last reel is lost, because unlike books, the sum of images and sounds exceeds whatever a narrator could transmit orally.

The preservation of film archives in celluloid was a big concern of Alexis' ultimate post on his blog Concentrated Nonsense and many of his previous articles.

I always thought the real "book-keepers", or "hommes-livres" in French, from the ending of Truffaut's adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 ending were instead the cinephiles. Most certainly, Truffaut had this analogy in the back of his head. When a film title is pulled from public theatres, when a nitrate reel burns out, when a filmmaker can't find a distributor, when censorship bans a scene or an entire film... there are only cinephiles left to testify that these images ever existed. When a film critic dies, not only the unimaginable amount of unwritten material waiting in her/his head is lost, but all the films seen, revisited, hunted down, captured, felt, cherished, understood, appropriated vanish instantly. Irrecoverably. As certain as when light halts, darkness takes over.
It takes a long time to form a cinephile. Hours and hours of steady viewing. Years and years of initiation. Thousands of films ingested and digested. This investment was dear to Alexis heart, and the raison d'être of his love for his girlfriend Nika, as you can read it in this beautiful open letter.
Domestic film culture in her land, Slovenian cinema, and his land, Filipino cinema, in particular, but also World Film Culture in general will suffer greatly from their absence. Two pairs of eyes that had seen so many wonders, that had so many things to tell us about it. I'll remember Roy Betty's final words, the Blade Runner replicant (another perfect cinephile metaphor), as of someone whose eyes had encyclopaedic memories, someone who was not allowed to live to tell. An irreparable loss for their families and friends, for a cinephile community severely lacking such exemplary models of transnational love and dedication.

Survivors are left with the responsibility to pass on to the next generations everything Nika and Alexis, ces "hommes et femmes-films", these "film-keepers", had the liberty to share and recount from the scrupulous spectatorship of their intimate filmic memory, their fragile and fugitive mental film archive.


Lights out and silence.

20 commentaires:

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News clip:
-ABC-CBN news
- Screen Daily
- The Auteurs Daily
- The Hollywood Reporter
- CBC news
- PinoyFilm
- Bangkok Post Entertainment
- Philippines Entertainment Portal

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Tribute :

- Lesson from the school of inattention
- Lilok Pelikula
- Thai Film Journal
- Rogue Magazine
- Filmmaker Magazine
- The Auteurs Notebook
- Limiteless Cinema
- film, eyeballs, brain
- Pormetheus Brown
- Filmsick
- Twilight Virus
- Raymond Phathanavirangoon (TIFF)
- FIPRESCI
- Naked News Pilipinas
- South East Asian Film Studies Institute
- Jonathan Rosenbaum

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Homage :
- For Alexis, a short film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
- video footage of Alexis, Nika and Lav Diaz (Thailand, August 1st)

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Selection of Alexis' articles :
- Wishful Thinking for Philippines cinema
- Raya Martin (cinemascope, summer 2009)
- Dear film Development Council of The Philippines
- Epilogue '08
- Journalism vs. Criticsm
- A River Runs Through It (on Lav Diaz' Heremias, P.14-16)

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Scanners

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Independencia

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Philippine Daily Inquirer:
Quark Henares
Philip Peckson
Philibert Ortiz Dy
James Gabrillo

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Girish (Adrian Martin)

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nikalexis another video footage/montage of Alexis and Nika.

Of Love, Life and Losss by Kim Voynar

The Legacy of Alexis and Nika by Raymond Phathanavirangoon (TIFF)

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Critic After Dark 2

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Limiteless Cinema in Broken English 2

Raya's Eulogy for Alexis

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Landscape Suicide

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Paul Dumol
Lourd Ernest de Veyra

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Poll 63: Filipino Films (Limitless Cinema in Broken English 2)

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Auditoire

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A Candle (for Alexis and Nika) (Chained to the Cinematheque)

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Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa (Limitless Cinema in Broken English)
Le Silo

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A love letter for a friend (Bee Thiam, 22 Sept 2009)

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Replying Alexis, and to all my Filipino friends by Tan Chui Mui at Da Huang Pictures (26-9-2009)

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Series of clips from Alexis appearances on Filipino TV (YT)