25 mai 2010

American fatalism

Try to guess who wrote the following quote :
  • a) an average movie-goer, determinist and conservative, opposed to cultural changes, indulging in a personal narrow anti-intellectual taste?
  • b) a cinephile-friendly veteran scholar, with the intellectual imagination to dream up a better system for a worldwide cultural diversity?
I know it sounds easy, but it might be counter-intuitive...

"Even the films that play festivals and arouse great emotion and admiration in the audiences will seldom break through into the mainstream. There simply aren’t enough of those art-houses. [..]
However much people decry the crassness of Hollywood—and there’s plenty of it to go around—or denounce audiences who only go to the latest CGI spectacle, the simple fact is that the market rules. Indeed, if there were a truly free market, we probably would see far fewer indie and foreign-language films. Film festivals are supported largely by sponsors, and the films they show are often wholly or partially subsidized by national governments. The festival circuit has long since become the primary market for a range of films that otherwise never reach audiences. [..]
Usually when someone calls for more support of independent or foreign films, there seems to be an implicit assumption that all those films are deserving of support, invariably more so than Hollywood crowd-pleasers. If a filmmaker wants to make a film, he or she should be able to, right? But proportionately, there must be as many bad indie films as bad Hollywood films. Maybe more, because there are always lots of first-time filmmakers willing to max out their credit cards or put pressure on friends and relatives to “invest” in their project. There’s also far less of a barrier to entry, especially in the age of DYI technology. [..]
There’s no way that every deserving film will reach everyone who might admire it. Condemning the crowds who frequent the blockbusters won’t help open new screens to offbeat fare. If someone loves Avatar, as long as they keep their cell phones off, refrain from talking, and don’t rustle their candy-wrappers too loudly, as far I’m concerned they can go on believing that this is the best the cinema has to offer. Simply showing these audiences a film like A Serious Man, say, or Precious isn’t going to change their minds about what sort of cinema they prefer. To break through decades of viewing habits, such people would need to learn new ones, which takes time and effort. People’s tastes can be educated, but the odds are usually against it actually happening."
Answer in the comments below.


4 commentaires:

HarryTuttle a dit…

The quote above comes from Kristin Thompson's blog (24 May 2010) about the futility to imagine that art cinema could get access to theatrical screen just as fairly as studio productions.

I thought David and Kristin were familiar with the French distribution system, where art cinema isn't a rare luxury for intellectuals, and where the general audience actually go watch subtitled movies from overseas without being forced by a totalitarian communist government... But maybe all this is just a figment of my imagination, and such system could only exist in a parallel dimension! I probably don't even exist myself. So don't mind my useless anti-fatalism rambling...

Kids of the future, if you wonder why you can only find the best films on small digital screens, and the huge 3D screens only show crap movies... you'll know that your ancestors surrendered to the system, because it was a lost cause. Watching films on the internets is fun TOO! ;)

HarryTuttle a dit…

You might want to re-read this recent article Second Class Distribution

HarryTuttle a dit…

"Tout est au mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles"
Voltaire, Candide, ou l'Optimisme, 1759.

HarryTuttle a dit…

A more sensible declaration today on her blog, appreciate the productive reversal of fatalism towards a more proactive attitude :

Kristin Thompson : "The posting [of the interview] follows the limited release of the film [The Time that Remains] on January 9 by the Independent Film Channel. Very limited, since it’s so far only on one screen. If it plays anywhere near you, I’d suggest seeing it on the big screen. I saw it twice at Vancouver, on the assumption that I’m unlikely to see it again in a 35mm print. This is one of those cases where seeing the film for the first time on video would be inadequate.

I often think back to that year’s festival when I see reviewers kvetching that there aren’t any great films any more. The blog linked above also covers Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman and Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon. There are definitely worthwhile films made every year, but you have to attend film festivals to see many of them. Most year-end 10-best lists don’t include many foreign films like these (or else they include almost nothing but foreign films). I like the way Roger Ebert makes separate top-10 lists for mainstream films, foreign films, animated films, and documentaries. Not only does he avoid comparing apples and oranges, but he promotes four times as many films, some of which most readers would never hear about otherwise."
Observations on film art (19 Jan 2011)