30 avril 2012

Disappearing Act I (European Exports to USA)

Disappearing Act IV is organized by the Czech Center, the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Group of European Cultural Institutes and Diplomatic Representations in New York. Sponsored by the EU Delegation to the UN. Curated and produced by Irena Kovarova.

(17 April 2009) 1h16'
With :
  • John Vanco, vice president and general manager of IFC Center 
  • Jytte Jensen, MoMA curator of film and member of selection committee of the New Directors/New Films festival
  • Richard Peña, director of the New York Film Festival, program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and professor of film at Columbia University
  • A.O. Scott, film critic of the New York Times
  • Florence Almozini, BAMcinématek program director
  • Eugene Hernandez, editor in chief and cofounder of indieWire.com
  • Moderated by Irena Kovarova, independent film programmer

My notes:

Branding "new waves" blah blah blah (see: Film Theory Branding / Neo-Neo)... it's not to "pigeonhole" these filmmakers, but in the end it is really pigeonholing them, to oversimplify, to vulgarize, to market them without the need to get into deeper considerations... Especially when it comes to speculating on a coin flip whether this or that wave will succeed or last, after seeing less than a dozen movies 2 years in a row... as if a summary judgment could determine the larger scope of long-term history in a whim, a catch-phrase and a wild prediction...

The phrase "European cinema" means "art cinema" to the American audience. And it denies the possibility that Europe could produce mainstream and commercial entertainment, therefore doesn't even consider distributing European titles in USA multiplexes... not only because they are subtitled, but because they are stigmatized as "obscure", "difficult", "challenging"... while there are lots of blockbuster formats made in Europe that could appeal to a mass audience anywhere in the world once translated. Yet they never get marketed, let alone seen by the American audience. The "foreign cinema" card is overplayed in America, it doesn't correspond to reality. 
The manichaean opposition between the popular entertainment made in USA and the rest of the world unable to produce popular entertainment is total bullshit. A brainwashing selling point that protects the isolationist mentality from a fair competition with foreign imports, which is sold by the studios and everyone directly profiting from an exclusive American-market and adopted, digested, regurgitated as it, uncritically by the American media, the American journalists, the American reviewers, the American critics, the American curators, American distributors, the American exhibitors, the American audience... All perpetuating this self-deceiving lie, just to remain in the comfort of their isolationist bubble. Without anyone in the USA ever imagining that maybe there is an alternate way to look at things, and that having non-American entertainment to a mass audience is not in the realm of impossible... 
If exporting Hollywood to foreign cultures is possible, if other countries like India or Hong Kong or Egypt or Turkey or Brazil or Nigeria or Korea or Spain or France CAN successfully export their idiosyncratic entertainment (not to mention artfilms eventually) to distant countries who don't speak the language... 
There are no justification, no exception, no excuse that could explain why the American market is physically, structurally, economically, culturally incapable to welcome the film production made outside their homeland, GREAT entertainment (as good or as average as their Hollywood counterparts), GREAT art films (of world-class fame and sometimes even commercially successful) that many people love in the world.
What is worse is that there is not a soul amongst the USA film community (critics, scholars and distributors alike) who would think otherwise and dare say it out loud and find something constructive to do to get things changed and done. Are they all useless? 
The American market is not a deadlock enforced by a brutal totalitarian regime... it's only an economic monopoly in a democratic country that could easily be unlocked. 
If it was about the American critics, we'd still be waiting for them to praise Hollywood Westerns and open film departments in universities... It wasn't easy to support the "Studio system" (when its corruption didn't completely subdue any form of creativity), but a group of French critics believed in it and fought for it for years before it got recognition (against the better judgement of the establishment defending European cinema). 
The Young Turks didn't sit around at panels finding excuses, evading any blames to anyone or clinging to the so easy patriotic, chauvinistic bandwagon of domestic cinema veneration...
When will American culture pays its cultural dept ???? and put some efforts into securing a DECENT niche within the American market??? WHEN? Fucking useless... ungrateful bunch of fanatic self-serving DVD collectors.

John Vanco : "It's not like there is a shortage of good films [..] Some would say there is a shortage of adventurous distributors who are willing to take a plunge. [..] It's hard to blame the distributor, it's hard to blame the exhibitor... [..] It's hard not to point finger at audiences. On the other hand there are so many distractions, so many options..."
Basically nobody is to blame... it just doesn't work and there is nothing we can do about it! 
If the mainstream audience was defecting the multiplexes in favour of DVDs, VoD, or online piracy... I would consider the claim that the multitude of offers is making theatrical screens more competitive. It's not true. It was wrong in 2009, it is still wrong in 2012, 3 years later. The global theatrical attendance in the USA just about maintains its level. There is no dramatic drop that would translate the substitution of the theatrical experience by the mobile device experience. This is bullshit. Hollywood movies keep the same audience. It's only the foreign cinema that struggles in the margin. This is a very targeted competition, that looks every way like protectionism, even if there is no official or legal regulations in place. Hollywood studios get as many screens they need, and as much audience they want. It's only foreign films that are treated like second-class citizens, cornered in such a position of invisibility that becoming profitable is out of the question. The distribution system makes sure to keep foreign films away from American audiences, to avoid the risk that their taste evolve and giving their admission fee to foreign cinema.

Richard Peña : "I don't think I would necessarily blame the audience, but I wanna blame Reagan-Bush that led to 28 years of conservative mindset which took over the USA, which was a negation of the time before that. Which was decades of openness in the USA, higher education [..]"
Yeah, yeah, yeah. In a democratic country, when there is political partisanship alternance, it goes from all white to all black overnight. Even if the election result was 51-49%, with half of the country (only) being conservative... the simple presence of Republicans in power obviously make 100% of the people to stop liking and watching foreign cinema... What a fine political analysis... you're not living in Soviet Russia dude! And your federal government doesn't even provide financial aid to the private movie sector... so how would a government change would affect how the media, the journalists, the critics, the curators, the distributors, the exhibitors do their job, and how the audience consume cultural goods??? I don't think democratic elections have that much leverage on individual taste! 
If arthouse exhibition is sustainable in countries with a lesser economy than the USA, chances are the USA could succeed too if they tried! It's just that you suck at this job and give up too easily, or you don't have the full commitment that other countries show. The USA is the IDEAL market in many ways. It is also a very profit-oriented market, alright, but at least you start from a place where there is money, and all you have to do is to educate the audience's taste. Other countries start lower than that, without money or even a movie industry or an exhibition infrastructure. They have to build up everything. EVERYTHING! So stop complaining from your undisputed number 1 rank of world economies. 

Richard Peña : "The rise of the American independent film is a factor, in the sense that it was attractive to the American audiences about foreign films were sex and politics. These were things that foreign films gave Americans which Americans gave reluctantly. American independent films filled some of that gap."
The rise of the American Indies of the 90ies since Stranger Than Paradise, might explain the physical saturation of the screens. Sure. Although studios could have slowed down their mainstream output if the specialty divisions worked so well (since they bank on both sides)... without increasing the total number of titles distributed, which is what makes competition for visibility so much harder. This should shrink the marginal share for imports. And if the mainstream audience developed an interest in indies, it's certainly easier to drag them from this middle ground toward world cinema, it shouldn't make them less open to an alternative choice to the typical Hollywood genres. The indie "boom" should have been a stepping stone into a more open minded culture! 

Richard Peña : "Even now, you think of the economics of the market, if you're a distributor you're gonna buy either a foreign-language film or an American film. If you buy both of them and put them in the movie theatre, and both make say $500,000. Well that's just the beginning of what that American independent film will make (video, cable, airplanes...) Whereas the foreign film it's done, that's really it."
Why? WHY? WHY??? 
Who says it's the end? The market tells you they don't want to risk investments in ancillary, cross-platforms, long-run career for a foreign film... and you take them at their words? 
It's just a cultural good to be sold on a free market. There is no fatality about it. It works in other countries so YOU CAN MAKE IT WORK in the USA too. TRY HARDER. Try at all, that would be a good start... Who says a 1 week run on 6 screens top is all a foreign film can expect??? It only happens because American distributors/exhibitors are pussies! Seeking the most profitable products to sell is one thing, and giving visibility to cultural goods that deserve financial risks, and long-term commitment is another. Don't say you're not in it for the money if you only market products that are already in demand (or pre-ordered). The job of a responsible distributor is to put its money where its taste is, and make it work somehow, by diversifying, by negociating with exhibitors, by trusting the audience (provided they are given a chance to see the film at all), by relying on social media power to form spontaneous mobs of fans around a mutual interest, by organising cine-club debates around a film... By slowly building up a cinephile appetite and culture that will prove to become profitable the next time you show these people another foreign film. By being patient and giving more screening time to marginal films. If you give up on world cinema because they don't bank 1 million dollar on the opening weekend, like every easy-sale Hollywood products... you don't know what is the job of an independent distributor! 
That's the problem of Americans... they only know 2 ways to sell a movie : the blockbuster way, or the one-off screening just to get listed in the NYT. Can you think about it for a second? Of course, the movies which systematically get the privileged treatment will continue to be successful again and again. And of course, the marginal films rendered virtually invisible will continue to stay obscured in American culture. 
So you only invest in foreign cinema when there is an automatic appeal to the crowd, by chance, when the interest is ALREADY there, like with neo-realism or Bergman (or foreign mainstream entertainment that is labeled "artfilm" for its subtitles)? How about when it's not easy? 

Eugene Hernandez (indieWIRE) : the undistributed list on the year-end critics' poll (2011) 
Yeah, it's nice effort to publish once a year a list of (favourite) title not yet acquired by American distributors... At least I used to think so. Now, since it has had a decisive impact on the distribution diversity. I wonder if it isn't a way to forget about it and feel good about having done something positive. If only they revisited it regularly and kept track of the shelf-life of each title... (more on that later)

A.O.Scott (NYT) : "I think it's possible to make too much of that category. I mean... "foreign films"... I'm not sure even... I don't know. I get frustrated with that kind of sorting out. I'm sort of a maybe utopian. I think that there are films. There are good ones and bad ones. I prefer the good ones."
What a coward cop out when invited on a panel ABOUT the lackluster distribution of FOREIGN FILMS in your country!!! So do you approve the release of foreign films on the American market on only 1% of the available screens? Does that correspond to what you deem "good film" amongst the 5000 foreign films made each year? Is that your position on the issue? If they aren't given any visibility in the USA it's because they aren't good enough to American standards? Are you fucking kidding me? 

Why American "critics" are always apologetic or evading about this central issue of their distribution market?  If there were competent film critics in the USA they would come up with solutions instead of excuses at these kind of debates... Where is the plan of action? What are you gonna do about it rather than sticking your head in the sand and keep doing your daily assembly line job of reviewing the system-approved batch of titles every week? It's not with such a lack of motivation and initiative (let alone any grasp of the problematics) that a culture is to move ahead and adapt to a difficult situation, overcome it and start breaking the downward slope. 


26 avril 2012

African Stereotypes by Hollywood

After viewing Mama Hope's video, "Alex Presents Commando," Gabriel, Benard, Brian and Derrik (the Kenyan men in this video) told us they wanted to make one that pokes fun at the way African men are portrayed in Hollywood films. They said, "If people believed only what they saw in movies, they would think we are all warlords who love violence." They, like Mama Hope, are tired of the over-sensationalized, one-dimensional depictions of African men and the white savior messaging that permeates our media. They wanted to tell their own stories instead, so we handed them the mic and they made this video.


25 avril 2012

Cinema 16 (Amos Vogel)

A film society for the adult moviegoer Cinema 16... films that cannot be seen elsewhere.

"It is well to keep in mind the difference between a commercial movie theatre and a film society. The commercial movie theatre aims to entertain; the film society aims to futher the appreciation of film and new experiences in the medium. The commercial movie theatre aims to stay clear of controversy; the film society welcomes it. If the film shown by a film society is entertaining, so much the better, but entertainment value cannot be the sole criterion for film society programming, nor can audience approval or disapproval. Film society must remain at least one step ahead of the audiences, and must not permit themselves to be pulled down to the level of the lowest common denominator in the audience. A very common and dangerous occurance in a mass medium.
It is a catastrophic fallacy to assume that running a film society involves nothing more than an idealistic concern with good films, coupled with their lackadaiscal presentation to willing audiences. On the contrary, the individual brave enough to venture into this troublesome field must be, nomatterwhat says the audience, an organiser, promoter, publicist, copyrighter, businessman, public speaker and artist. A conscienscious, if not pedantic person, versed in mass psychology. He must have roots in his community. And he must know a good film when he sees it. "
Amos Vogel, Cinema 16 (1947)
* * *

"Be uncomfortable, be sand, not oil in the machinery of the world"
Guenther Eich (German post-WW2 writer)

* * *

"I believe that the entire evolution of Art and of society proceeds through a series of revolutions. The question that everything in our society is based on is 'will it be profitable or not?' chokes off real creativity. I think that the commercialisation of art and of entertainment is a negative factor in human development. When you see how art does progress it is always by the revolutionary deeds of a few individuals who come up with totally new ideas, totally new means of expressing themselves."
Amos Vogel in Film as a Subversive Art (2004/Paul Cronin/USA) 56' 


Masterclass Lucas Belvaux

Après des débuts au cinéma, en 1981, dans "Allons z’enfants" d’Yves Boisset, Lucas Belvaux tourne avec Chabrol, Rivette, Assayas, Akerman, Wargnier ou encore Guédiguian. Au début des années 90, il passe derrière, la caméra. À ce jour, il a réalisé huit films dont le tout dernier, "38 témoins", sort en salles le 14 mars. À l’occasion d’une Master class, il revient sur son parcours. Cette séance est animée par Pascal Mérigeau

19 avril 2012

The sad state of the American "cinéphile elite"

Is it strikingly illuminating yet ?

France has a population 5 times smaller than the USA and has 7 times less screens in total !
Not only the proportion of arthouse to mainstream cinemas in the USA is ludicrous for a Western industrialised country (with a centennial cinema tradition)...
Not only this tiny ratio of a much larger total doesn't even match the number of arthouse screens in France...

But there is a delusional douchebag at an allegedly "cinéphile-friendly" publication who believes that there are too many artfilms at festivals and genre films don't get enough attention !!! WTF is going on?
The USA market is clearly an embryonic film culture (staling at an isolationist cocoon stage for over 100 years now...), where the moviegoing population is VERY ENTHUSIASTIC for INFANTILE SPECTACLE, but not open at all to anything else. 

We can only draw from this that the American Film Press has FAILED to educate its readers, and continues to eschew any responsibility towards the cultural education of its general population.
Not only reviewers, journalists, pundits, critics, scholars, filmmakers, cinéphiles, arbiters, distributors, exhibitors, producers, actors... have collectively failed to elicit a modicum of cultural diversity and open-mindedness and curiosity for challenging material and difference, but they also cling to conservative values around their own national Hollywood genres and put all the blame on foreign cinema and international festivals!

It would be impossible to quantify the level of cinéphilia of a particular population, and compare adequately any 2 given countries... because the debate of which film qualifies as "artfilm" and what kind of cinema is more "cinéphile" than the rest would be an endless battle of blind subjectivities and idiosyncrasies. However, there are certain factors that may easily identify the absence of any cinéphile interest. Quantifying the number of foreign films acquired by distributors, the number of screens dedicated and the moviegoing population going to watch them are very tangible facts of reality that prove there is at least an interest for a film culture outside of their own borders. Then we should look into these "foreign films" and figure out whether they are just as bad an entertainment leisure as the national mass-appeal production, or if they feature a wider diversity of styles, topics and sensibilities.
Showing the openness of a film market to world cinema is probably the necessary substrate for any cinéphile culture to grow on. That's why the graphs of film distribution by nationality is an undeniable clue to start forming an opinion on a country's level of cinéphilia. There is not a single period in the young history of cinema when it was OK for the current leading country to watch ONLY its domestic production because it was the ONLY worth watching at the time... Not even the USA in the 40ies. Cinéphilia is ALWAYS about embracing the plurality of filmic voices, styles, genres and nationalities.

Is it OK for a country like the USA to be unable to open more than 250 screens for alternative cinema after 117 years of movie consumption history? Obviously not.
Is there room for improvement? Heck yeah!
Is there anyone in the USA who is aware of it and feels responsible to get the status quo changed for a less incredibly lopsided arthouse-entertainment ratio? Not a single soul.

This is not good enough. This is not acceptable!

Americans all feel good about themselves, and even cocky enough to patronize major festivals whiches do the job (of supporting art cinema and world cinema) they refuse to take charge of in the USA. Not only they refuse to do THEIR JOB, but they have the guts to denigrate and nitpick at everyone else abroad supporting the world cinema market which suppression by Hollywood hegemony Americans silently approve.
Dude, if I lived in a country corresponding to the situation described by the graphic on the left, I would get busy trying to diminish the cultural gap, rather than pettily wasting time nitpicking about genre visibility and festival curatorial duties. What a country of self-serving consumers! 

Leave the chauvinist attitude to the French (we obviously can afford it given that we show more NON-FRENCH films than you with less total screens available). No reason for Americans to feel proud. Keep a low profile and WORK ON YOUR OWN FILM CULTURE that is stuck in its infancy, WORK ON EXPANDING ARTHOUSES which are moribund. Don't give us shit about "cinephilia-this" and "neo-cinephilia-that"... the numbers show you have no clue about cinéphilia. Your version of cinéphilia is beyond the state of "elitism", it's non-existent!

Could you do better than Québec or even China in the next 20 years? or do you need another century of fooling around and letting the "federal department of diplomatic intimidation" run the foreign policy of the American movie market like a strategic (soft-power) weapon of economic colonization?

How much longer will the world have to wait to see any signs of improvement for the general film culture in the USA? for cultural diversity? for a truly cinéphile-friendly press? for responsible distributors? for adventurous exhibitors? for risk-taking producers?

... fucking useless! (and proud of themselves)


12 avril 2012

American Dream + Images + Philo

Le rêve américain à l'écran (France Culture; 9-12 avril 2012)

1. Le Western, à la conquête de la loi (9 avril 2012) [MP3] 50'
Pour commencer cette semaine consacrée au thème du rêve américain porté à l'écran, Adèle Van Reeth reçoit Yves Pedrono à propos du Western, genre à la conquête de la loi.

Films cités :
  • High Noon / Le train sifflera trois fois
  • Bend of the river / Les Affameurs (1952/Anthony Mann/USA)
  • Cowboys Waltz (Woody Guthrie)
  • Wagonmaster / Le convoi des braves (1950/John Ford/USA) 
  • High Noon / Le train sifflera trois fois (1952/Fred Zinnemann)
  • Hud / Le plus sauvage d'entre tous (1963/Martin Ritt/USA

2. 24 heures chrono et The Wire, le rêve s'effondre (10 avril 2012) [MP3] 50'
Aujourd'hui, Adèle Van Reeth reçoit François Jost et Mathieu Potte-Bonneville à propos des séries américaines 24h chrono et The Wire, pour décrypter la notion d'effondrement du rêve.
  • Séries citées : 24h chrono; The Wire
Ecoutez aussi : La Dispute (spéciale séries) Borgen, The Walking Dead, Hatufim (France Culture; 10 avril 2012) [MP3] 60'
Avec : Antoine Guillot; Alain Spira de Paris Match; Jean-Baptiste Thoret de Charlie Hebdo
Séries Mania (saison 3) 16 au 22 avril 2012 (Forum des Images) programme PDF 

3. Avatar, quand Hollywood rencontre Rousseau (11 avril 2012) [MP3] 50'
Aujourd'hui, Adèle Van Reeth reçoit Raphaël Enthoven pour évoquer le blockbuster américain Avatar, et voir en quoi Hollywood rencontre Rousseau dans ce film.

Films cités :
  • Dance With wolves / Danse avec les loups (1990/Kevin Costner)
  • Archives du journal de 13 heures France 2, le 20 mars 2003
  • Avatar (2009/James Cameron/USA)
  • Yvette Giraud, Seul un homme peut faire ça

4. Filmer l'horreur, du rêve au cauchemar (12 avril 2012) [MP3] 50'
Aujourd'hui, Adèle Van Reeth reçoit Jean-Baptiste Thoret pour évoquer le passage à l'écran du rêve au cauchemar dans le cinéma des années 1970.
Avec: Jean-Baptiste Thoret, historien et critique de cinéma

Films cités: 
  • the Zapruder film (1963/Abraham Zapruder/USA) 
  • Massacre à la tronçonneuse (1974/Tobe Hooper)
  • Easy Rider (1969/Dennis Hopper)

Bibliographie citée:
  • Et Dieu créa l'Amérique : de la Bible au western, l'histoire de la naissance des USA (Yves Pedrono Kimé, 2010)
  • Splendeur du western (Suzanne Liandrat-Guigues et Jean-Louis Leutrat; 2007)
  • Western(s) (Suzanne Liandrat-Guigues; Jean-Louis Leutrat; Klincksieck, 2007)
  • De quoi les séries américaines sont-elles le symptôme ? (François Jost; CNRS éditions, 2011)
  • The Wire. Reconstitution collective (Les Praires Ordinaires, 2011)
  • Le nouvel âge d'or des séries américaines (Alexis Pichard; 2011)
  • Les séries télévisées. Forme, idéologie et mode de production (David Buxton; 2011)
  • Second discours (Rousseau)
  • Le philosophe de service : et autres textes (Raphaël Enthoven; 2011)
  • On Nature (Ralph Waldo Emerson; 1836)
  • Emile ou De l'éducation (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
  • Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
  • Massacre à la tronçonneuse, de Tobe Hooper : une expérience américaine du chaos (Jean-Baptiste Thoret; 2000)
  • Mythes et masques : les fantômes de John Carpenter (Jean-Baptiste Thoret, Luc Lagier; 1998)
  • Road Movie, USA (Jean-Baptiste Thoret; 2011)
  • 26 secondes, l'Amérique éclaboussée : l'assassinat de JFK et le cinéma américain (Jean-Baptiste Thoret; 2003) 

Lire aussi :

10 avril 2012

Disappearing Act IV (Undistributed European Films)

Disappearing Act IV is organized by the Czech Center, the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Group of European Cultural Institutes and Diplomatic Representations in New York. Sponsored by the EU Delegation to the UN. Curated and produced by Irena Kovarova.
The festival showcases 25 contemporary European films from Austria, the Wallonia-Brussels and Flanders regions of Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Disappearing Act IV European film festival in New York presents films in three venues with an opening night event at the IFC Center on Wednesday, April 11; two days of screenings at Tinker Auditorium at the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14; and in the digital cinema at Bohemian National Hall, from April 12-22.

Disappearing Act IV : European Contemporary Cinema at U.S. Universities
PANEL DISCUSSION (10 April 2012)
As every year, the Disappearing Act program includes a panel discussion about presence of contemporary European films on U.S. screens.
The discussion will relate to all venues available for European cinema’s presence at universities, not only in university courses, but also through screening series organized by students and film societies functioning at universities; visiting filmmakers, and support provided to universities by various institutions. The festival this year also opens itself as an educational resource providing an opportunity to students of New York University’s cinema studies program to introduce several films and they will be present to share their experience.
With : Julia Solomonoff (Director and producer, teaching Film Direction at Columbia University’s Film Department), Anne Kern (Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies, SUNY Purchase), and Richard Suchensky (Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts, Bard College)

* * *

The previous panel discussions were videotaped and are available online:


03 avril 2012

Repeat Whiner (Gavin Smith) Season 2 episode 1

"[..] Whatever else it does, the Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR) doesn't shy away from showing exceedingly long films. Pushingly long, some might say. [..]
But for all its worthiness, IFFR has what might be called an 'enjoyment problem'. You rarely if ever hear the word 'movie' (aka entertainment) uttered here, let alone 'motion picture' (industrial product). Here it's strictly 'film' (value-neutral) and preferably 'Cinema' (Art). This credo isn't flaunted with self-righteousness or reverence but is treated as a quietely incontestable given. Even when the festival shines a spotlight on forgotten or little-seen realm of commercial cinema [..] there is an underlying urge to reclassify the work as 'subversive' in the name of Cinema in a way that would be unthinkable with, say, John Landis or Luc Besson or Romantic Comedies. In the end, what all this comes down to is a commitment to shun and/or oppose dominant cinema (movies, entertainment), be it American or European. [..]
To be uncharitable, Rotterdam sometimes comes off like ground zero for all films miserable and abject. [..]
Not that there's anything wrong with that, but... is that all there is?"
Gavin Smith (Film Comment; March 2012)
This clown goes to Rotterdam like a douche-bag would crash a vegetarian restaurant and declare out loud : "What's the deal with veggies? Is that all there is? How about some burgers?"
In the background we can hear his soul-mate Dan Kois shouting "Fuck broccoli!"

First of all, if you looked outside of your own ass, maybe you would have noticed that "art cinema" is hardly "all there is" in the world... much less than anywhere else in your own country! The raison d'être of festivals such as Rotterdam is to nurse artfilms in a (self-identified) protected environment, a safe haven. Apparently Gavin is the only one who can take a plane all the way across the Atlantic ocean without being informed that the place he's covering is NOTORIOUSLY DEDICATED TO NON-COMMERCIAL CINEMA. There are tons of screens and festivals and media and events in the world reserved for commercial movies. In fact it's practically taking up 99% of the space available for cinema anywhere. So when you go to a sanctuary aiding endangered species you don't mock them for not giving MORE PUBLICITY, SCREENING TIME and AWARDS to commercial movies, unless you want to make an ass of yourself... And all the forcefully-faked "I'm not complaining", "the staff is agreeable", "a roll call of 21st century art-film prime movers"... won't redeem your baseless baby-level whining.
Only in America, could the editor in chief of a cinephile magazine insult art-friendly festivals and lick Hollywood ass in public! Try and do that in France dude, you'll meet the guillotine!  

And, maybe this detail escaped your shallow reflection, the main reason commercial products aren't shown outside of multiplexes, might be because their quality DOES NOT MATCH the amount of effort, creativity, challenge, artistry, mastery that so-called "artfilms" achieve. You don't seem to make the difference between a junket (which purpose is to SELL whatever commercial product there is) and a festival (which purpose is to REWARD quality cinema, without bribes). I know this mentality is unheard of in the USA, you're probably not familiar with the idea of artistic evaluation, since the USA market only identifies products by their budget, marketing costs and BO revenues. If you like genre so much, why don't you try to learn how to write sound analysis of commercial movies so the related culture could MATURE in your country... only then maybe there will be more genre movies in places where QUALITY is rewarded.

What if the "Audience Award Poll" in high-school doesn't go to the Math class or Literature... but videogames do. The mass doesn't decide what stays in the curriculum.

How can you pound sense in his hollow skull? He doesn't even listen to himself... or remember what he said :
"And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that there's one standby you can always count on if inspiration doesn't come to the rescue. That's right, when all else fails, denouncing this or that film festival for failing to measure up in some way or other works everytime. All you have to do is invent some expectation or obligation that said festival level failed to meet, add water, and voilà!"
Gavin Smith (Film Comment; Sept-Oct 2011)
Are you fooling around? Don't you give a shit at all? Don't you care about keeping your country's culture afloat? Do you perversely enjoy seeing it sink and pushing it down deeper? 
He knows he's being a douche, he knows he's using douchebag tactics, he knows it wrong... but he can't help himself, and goes right back at it.

His idea of Year's Best in 2011 was :
  1. Super 8 BLOCKBUSTER - Domestic 
  2. Le garçon au vélo MAINSTREAM - Belgium 
  3. Words of Mercury EXPERIMENTAL - Domestic 
  4. A Dangerous Method  MAINSTREAM - Domestic 
  5. The Descendants  MAINSTREAM  - Domestic 
  6. Midnight in Paris  MAINSTREAM  - Domestic 
  7. Belle Epine  MAINSTREAM - France
  8. The Deep Blue Sea  MAINSTREAM - UK 
  9. Keyhole  EXPERIMENTAL - Canada
  10. Hugo  MAINSTREAM - Domestic   

Not a single Lav Diaz film in there, nor any overlong film he claims he "likes". The only one close to a non-commercial artfilm is the Dardennes, and the 2 experimental films. Everything else could easily play in a mainstream theatre (maybe not in the USA though, but then again they don't play anything that isn't marketed by the 6 major studios...).
Even Cahiers doesn't think Super 8 is better than Tree of Life...
I'm sorry for you that your taste sucks (fitting perfectly with the taste of the average American multiplexe-goer)... and I feel even more sorry about your readership that deserves better in FC than to be served the worthless whim of another self-indulgent pundit. Nobody informed you the type of films showed at the Lincoln Center? You thought you worked for Regal and Entertainment weekly???

I thought in the January issue (after having complained in the 2 previous issues that he had nothing to say, and  all he knew was talking about his personal life memories) that he had the class to leave this page to his colleague Kent Jones... Wrong. He has nothing to say. It annoys him to write up an editorial. He doesn't know the purpose of an editorial. He drags his feet at overseas festivals. He craves for Hollywood braindead fun. Yet he's unable to figure out by himself that the magazine he works for kinda has nothing to do with his own self-indulgent taste! 

No wonder American (shut-in) "cinephiles" don't know what "art", "auteur", "mise en scène", "culture", "canon", "cinema" are... They don't have role models in cinema institutions who could show an alternate worldview to the dominant Hollywood marketing propaganda. Gavin Smith believes that Hollywood needs him, and Film Comment to help them get entertainment to the "deprived" consumers, like the hundreds of other mainstream commercial media outlets doing just that in the USA. Useless. Shameless. 

Did you take the 101 course for movie critics before landing at this job? Cause if you don't know what an art-film festival is supposed to screen, and you still haven't figured out after all these years in activity it's a pretty massive concern...
Why J. Hoberman, Todd McCarthy get laid off and this guy keeps his job after continuously spelling out he has no clue what the art-world is about...? Probably because everyone think he's a better genius... So I'm assuming that Kent Jones, Olaf Möller, Scott Foundas, Dave Kehr, Andrew Sarris all agree that bashing art-cinema-friendly festivals because they don't show enough entertainment is fine.
This is obvious why Pauline Kael won the war...

Is this real?

I have no problems with people who love entertainment... go ahead indulge. But why would someone who consumes the dominant offering go destroy the struggling marginal outlets that show the hard-sell art-cinema just because they don't obey the law of the market LIKE EVERYONE ELSE AROUND. There is plenty of room for entertainment fans to watch everything they want and more... (especially in the USA) why ruin it for people who wish to see something different? Art-friendly audiences, don't protest at the multiplexes because there are too many screens (4137 out of a total of 40000 available!!! so over 10% for just 1 movie, IS THAT ALL THERE IS???) showing The Hunger Games... or interrupting The Oscars because their nominees are safe and conventional. Enjoy your over-abundance of genre, and try not to rub it in the face of art-lovers.


01 avril 2012

Anne Wiazemsky, ciné-fille

Anne Wiazemsky, ciné-fille (version française sous-titrée en japonais)
Anne WIAZEMSKY, INUHIKO Yomota (Institut franco-japonais de Tokyo)
17 nov 2010 (Canal-U) 53'22"
Anne Wiazemsky, ciné-fille (version japonaise)
Anne Wiazemsky, actrice iconique du cinéma d'auteur des années 1960-1970, a trouvé sa voie propre avec la littérature. Son roman Jeune fille, démystifie la relation qu’elle a entretenue sur le plateau avec Robert Bresson, alors qu’elle était une adolescente en mal d'identité. Entre séduction et perversité, soumission et irrévérence. Débat entre Anne Wiazemsky et Yomota Inuhiko, essayiste, critique et historien spécialiste du cinéma et de littérature comparée, professeur à l’université Meiji, à l’occasion de la publication de Jeune fille en japonais et d’une rétrospective organisée à l’Institut franco-japonais de Tokyo, le 17 novembre 2010.