02 juin 2011

Project: Validating Indulgent Movie Fandom

“Project: New Cinephilia” will be a unique gathering of diverse voices engaging in conversation about the current landscape for film appreciation and evaluation, taking place at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011.
Curatorial statement, projectcinephilia.mubi.com, 23 May 2011
The "Commonwealth Bubble" is done with the French Criticism legacy, and wants to impose an Anglophone-centric redefinition of "Film Culture", without obscur French words such as "cinéphilie". Let's redefine DVD consumerism as the new cinephilia, the American way! Typical Emersonian attitude, developing pragmatic individualism (because DVDs de facto replace lackluster distribution on American screens) to cut off from European tradition (where cinephilia is defined around the art of film, instead of its material ways of circulation). Good luck with that marketing campaign... as long as you only address your speeches to the anglophone world, nobody will care enough to dispute. You could indulge in such "geocentric" arguments in the pre-internet world maybe... but you can not possibly make such unsubstantiated claims in the XXIst century, outside of your motherland.
  • Contributors : 100% English-writting. 18 from USA, 6 from the UK, 3 from Australia (one of which is a French expat), 2 from Canada (not the Québec part!). See Contra-contrarianism (IFFR) 3. No need to explain how an anglophone-only debate is irrelevant to an interconnected world without borders.
  • Resource (Cinephilia studies) : 100% English; 6 USA, 1 Aussie
  • Resource (Discussions/Panels) : 100% English; 6 USA, 1 UK, 1 AU, 1 NL, 1 CH
  • Resource (Essential texts) : 100% English (40% translated); 3 USA; 1 FR, 1 DE
  • Resource (Manifesto/Positions) : 100% English; 15 USA, 1 CA, 1 AU, 1 Chile
  • Resource (Slow Criticism) : 100% English; 2 USA, 1 UK, 1 NL, 1 DK
  • Resource (Video essays) : 100% English; 11 USA
  • Resource (Originals) : 100% English; 2 USA
  • The website information is replete with American-centric references (H.D., Carl Sandburg, Graham Greene, James Agee, Manny Farber, Pauline Kael, Kent Jones, Harmony Korine, David Lynch, Spike Jonze, Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, Hollis Frampton, David Sterritt, Laura Mulvey, Chris Fujiwara, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Zach Campbell, Dudley Andrew, James Morrison, Annette Michelson, Acquarello, Jessica Winter, David Hudson, Gavin Smith, Richard Brody, Ed Halter, Andrew Sarris, J. Hoberman, Stanley Kauffmann, Dave Kehr...)
Since it takes place in the UK, you would think the natural bias would be with a majority of British residents, but no. 94 American references versus 8 British references. Just like the British screens are overwhelmed by Hollywood, their local film literature is also monopolized by the USA. Is it really a British summit? I wonder.
Did they actually try to seek out the MOST INTERESTING and COMPETENT people in the WORLD able to discuss this question, or did they just randomly spin their Rolodex of buddies and Twitter followers? They probably think that by ignoring the world around them and by quoting eachothers, it makes them more relevant internationally or even thus appropriate a (deceitful) dominating position in Film Discourse (as evidenced by this disingenuous lack of non-English references). The MPA would be proud of you for contributing to install American culture hegemony through cinema. It's just a little presumptuous to go to Scotlands and brainwash dumb festival goers : Let's forget about actual cinephilia, it takes too much efforts and commitment to attain, instead we'll indulge in our own laziness and redefine standards according to our own limitations... What a pity.
But then again, maybe the anglophone critics are the ones badly in need of such therapeutic consultation, AA support group-style.

To which reservation organiser Kate Taylor replies:
We have spoken a lot since the project’s inception about how to ensure a variety of perspectives feeds in to the project, and within the timeframe of pulling it all together, we have for our initial phase focused on Anglophone voices. [..]
We would not claim the project is currently representative of global voices (and there are also several non-Anglophone invitees who were not able to contribute due to time commitments), but hopefully within the ethos of the project we have suggested that we are up for discussion and open to suggestion.
Bollocks! If you haven't acquired a solid background in WORLDWIDE film studies by now (not just in preparation of this event), you maybe shouldn't be in charge of this supposedly "international" event, at EIFF. Find a better excuse next time, unless your intention was to confirm Anglophone Isolationism.
If you're looking for the NEW cinephilia... well, you failed to discover the CROSS-CULTURALITY of the WORLD WIDE WEB. We can be sure of that much at this point, and the thing hasn't started yet...

"NEW cinephilia"? really? Always this desperate obsession of the NEW World to steal concepts from the Old World, discredit them, and rebrand them by adding the adjective "new" or "neo" in front. What a subservient absence of creativity for words and for ideas! (See: Film Theory Branding)

An English-only bibliography had to overlook these (you're just 30 years late for the re-evaluation of the original cinéphilie):
  • Contre la Nouvelle Cinéphilie (Louis Skorecki, Cahiers du cinéma, n°293, octobre 1978)
  • L'Homme ordinaire du cinéma (Jean Louis Schefer, 1980)
  • La société du spectacle (Guy Debord, 1983) 
  • Devant la recrudescence des vols de sacs à main, cinéma, télévision, information (Serge Daney, 1991)
  • Eléments pour une chronique de téléphilie (Louis Skorecki, Libération, 21 juillet 1992)
  • Retours de cinéphilie (Antoine de Baecque, Cahiers du cinéma, n°460, octobre 1992)
  • Le salaire du zappeur (Serge Daney, 1993) 
  • Les dandys du câble (Thierry Jousse, Cahiers du cinéma, n°498, janvier 1996)
  • Le cinéma et l'éthique (Jean-Claude Biette, 1999; publié in Trafic, n°50, 2004)
  • Cinéfile et cinémonde (Jean-Luc Nancy, Trafic, n°50, 2004)
  • La DVDéothèque de Jean Douchet (Jean Douchet, 2006)
  • Pour une cinéphilie grand angle (Arnaud Guigue, 2009)
  • Bréviaire de cinéphilie dissidente (Ludovic Maubreuil, 2009)
* * *

Here is what the public relations promised for the upcoming event :

Premise :
  • How we write about cinema [that's gonna be fun!]
  • How we watch cinema [you need a symposium for this?]
  • How we teach cinema [yes please]
  • How we create cinema [WTH? so critics are artists now?]
Watching, Writing, Teaching, Creating... they obviously don't talk merely about "cinephiles" (passive audience), but about people who produce a work after viewing. Cinephile is a generic term which designates, when you qualify a demographic, its consumption of this cultural good that is cinema. Here you're talking about writers, educators and filmmakers. Only a slim proportion of cinephiles are active contributors to Film Discourse, Film Education and Film Making, in a serious way (if they even consider themselves cinephiles).

Sessions :
  1. Provocations [I hope they'll be... thought-provoking, provocative and impertinent indeed]
  2. Critical Approaches: How to Read a Film Today [here is an educational bit for a festival audience]
  3. Passions: Getting Your Voice Heard, Starting a Film Publication [if you need help in this domain, you're not ready to be published, so work harder on your own!]
  4. Critical Approaches II: Tools, Formats and Experiments [finally!]
  5. Passions: What Does It Mean to Be a Cinephile Today? [welcome to the AA meeting]
  6. Respondent: My God, What Have We Done? [that'll be interesting to see how self-critical they are]
  7. Twitterthon: 140 Character Film Critic Deathmatch [WTF? This alone shows how careless and unserious they are about the whole thing. See Dim-Tweet]
* * *
"This is not about “the future” or “the death” of film criticism. This is not about print journalists versus bloggers. It is about how “cinephilia” informs and enriches film culture, from the inside out, and the outside in."
Grand. You're starting on productive basis. Though, if you're really honest about this, why link in the resource page to the "death of cinema" essays and the print v. bloggers panels of the last couple years? Perverse temptation or unfocused bibliography? Further they list the "future" as a recommended topic :
"Is the technique of film (3-D, immersive technologies, hyper-cut editing) developing ahead of the art? What is to be made today of André Bazin’s proclamation that “cinema has not yet been invented”? Are we headed toward non-photographic cinema in mass culture? And if so, how will our notions of the moving image change? How will such a shift change the future as well as the past?"
We're not starting on the right foot, are we? Did you not consult eachother before writing the pages of your presentation? If you're confused yourself about what you're doing, we cannot reasonably hope that you'll make your readers/audience less, but more confused after participating to the event. Organisers have the responsibility to clear out confusion and improve the level of film discourse, not to worsen it.


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