29 mars 2008

The Belgrade Manifesto

Continuing the thread of Responsibilities in cinema and to contradict my recrimination against the apathetic American market, here is an interesting project initiated by two independent filmmakers, Nora Hoppe (USA) and Jon Sanders (UK), in an open forum at the Belgrade Festival of Auteur film, on Sunday 2nd December 2007: The Belgrade Manifesto. I never heard about it, and apparently I'm not alone (despite an article in the current issue of Vertigo.uk) , as the number of signatures is only 58 (Sokurov and Kaurismaki among them) in four months. So spread the word and sign up!

They accuse the (Hollywood) system of dumbing down the audience with low standards films and Machiavellian marketing schemes. They propose to exploit the liberty of Digital Cinema to make and show films to the public outside of the established commercial circuit. Which relates to what Pascale Ferran is talking about in France right now.

There is a crisis in cinema today, a deep malaise, a feeling of artistic exhaustion, of pointlessness. The evolution of cinematic language that is so vital to the continued well-being and relevance of the medium has pretty much come to a standstill. Good films are getting fewer, the informed and knowledgeable audience that is so important for their success has shrunk. The older generation don't go to the cinema any more because so many films are for young people, and the young people today have little idea of cinema's capacity for depth, excitement and complexity. The critics, who should be guiding and educating that audience, are mostly inadequate, and the distribution structures no longer work.

The growth of the globalised market and of Hollywood's extraordinary success in exploiting it, despite the fact that the films are getting worse, has not only depleted the alternative markets but, more disturbingly, has undermined alternative approaches to production by acting as a virus - its methods and philosophy are either taken on directly or internalised. Nobody pays attention to form, without which, as our predecessors understood, nothing worthwhile can possibly develop. The “story” is given exaggerated importance; the study of its crude mechanics has become an industry in itself with consultants and experts in every financing agency and production house, part of an ever growing and unproductive bureaucracy whose purpose is to sniff out the trends and fads of the day and to select and develop (and distort) productions in accordance with those predictions.

However, the landscape has shifted and we are now entering the era of “digital cinema”. (...) What is being ignored is (...) the long-term stagnation of cinematic language and form and the consequent lack of innovation and depth which are essential to keep cinema alive.

(...) At last, it is now possible, because of the huge reduction in costs, to bypass existing funding channels and make high quality films WITHOUT PERMISSION. In addition, we need to adapt and develop those models of distribution and exhibition that are already being pioneered and begin to identify new sources of minimal funding. It is time to take responsibility for our own future and establish a committed, interactive community that can share ideas and work together to find viable ways to make and show our films and build audiences that will want to see them.

(full manifesto on the official website)

So hopefully critics and filmmakers worldwide, a global community, could feel RESPONSIBLE and oppose the system to defend artistic liberty and cultural diversity. Even filmmakers working in America and why not from Hollywood. Time to speak up and shake the world to change the system!

1 commentaire:

HarryTuttle a dit…

A correction emailed by Jon Sanders himself:

"Just one correction - Nora Hoppe is indeed from the US but has lived and worked in Europe for many years and all her films were shot in Europe. She is currently is based in Berlin. I myself am British, despite having made a Western in Canada (Painted Angels 1999) and live in London."

So they are not representative of the Hollywood market like I initially suggested.