03 juin 2011

Online Postcards (Project:New Cinephilia)

"Epilogue '08 is the final chapter of the year 2008. An online roundtable looking back one last time on the past year in films, after 2008 came to a close and every year-end poll and commentary has been published. We have gathered here a panel of passionate film critics from around the world to feel the pulse of the cinephile life as it unfolded in half a dozen capital cities where cinema is lively and brewing. We get a chance to take a look at the global village of cinephilia, more than ever bound together by the communitarian feelings of the blogosphere and the communication between foreign film cultures, through films and also the international exchange allowed by film discourse in the English language." (HarryTuttle, ex-TheAuteurs.com, 25 Jan 2009)
 ½ years later, Mubi finally follows up on the supposedly annual series I started in January 2009 under the name Epilogue ('08). Do you think Mubi would have the memory of what The Auteurs did, and pay homage to its inspirational predecessor event? No. There is no memory, regret or remorse in instant social media. I asked Andrew Grant to co-organise (because as he wrote, he had a similar concept), unfortunately he didn't provide more support (in the 1 or 2 months of preparation) than any other participants.
They ignored my debriefing when everything was done, and nobody made sure to meet again the next year. In fact I never heard again of the participants I had personally invited to this roundtable (except Nitesh and Edwin, but about other ongoing projects), through email or blog. Apparently the Twitter logorrhea has a (s)elective flow. This includes the paid editor of the website, who didn't even notice that the date had passed without the new installment taking place in January 2010. He didn't forget to cover the Year-end lists and the Oscars though. To each his own priorities. I also asked him for a dedicated page for the roundtable posts, aside from the cluttered flow of the "Notebook", and a publicity on the forum... I'm glad he found out how to get things done the right way this time around.

The moral of the story is that you should never believe all the over-ecstatic, hyperbolic mutual congratulations and promises that you read in these formal roundtable exchanges (you know, when they write that they love being there and that everything the others wrote was amazing) cause it's all fake and uncommitted. Why do we find the typical political pandering for publicity sake within the CRITICAL discourse?

The point of this Epilogue event was to meet with foreigners, cinephiles from outside our own culture. Here, Mubi only remembers the common language (English) and forgot about inviting non-English natives. There is one Frenchman at their table, but he lives in Australia... I guess anglophones are only interested in other fellow anglophones. 
The host this year, Neil Young, who wears his French snobbery as ostentatiously as possible, admits not being up-to-date with world cinema, nonetheless he judges with confidence how festivals should function, he's stranger to social media but he will define nonetheless what "new cinephilia" should be. He made quite an impression at Rotterdam already (see Contra-contrarianism (IFFR) 2).
And to seal the deal, none of the roundtable participants stepped down from their pedestal to pay a visit to the Mubi forum users and engage in a conversation, social-media style. So much for "new cinephilia"... Beyond the facade of the word "social" in social media, it shows its true color : Me Me Me and my Followers (which is the exact top-down model of the magisterial dispense of institutional information in old print media!). That's what the new media are all about, not about conviviality, curiosity, diversity and interactivity.
It's a shame really, because the users who commented on the roundtable content (see here) have more interesting things (more critical distance, more scepticism, deeper implications, more pertinence) to say that the collection of commonplace and navel-gazing anecdotes published in these trivial postcards.

I wish I was encouraged by such project proposition, with a collegial format rather than a unilateral lecture, with a contemporary topic rather than conservative world views (see Film Crit summits 2008), and still, its core conception works against what it is supposed to achieve. It fails to provide true exchanges, interactivity, pertinent analysis of the symptoms, insights and solutions...

Educational cursory reading (in case you're amongst those who found this roundtable a-mazing):

1. Céci n’est pas un cinéphile (Neil Young)
  • Not just anyone can pull off a Magritte reference... you need apropos point to make!
  • WTF is a "New Cinephile Canon"??? You mix up "cinephilia" with academia. There is no consensual canon amongst cinephiles, it's critics who elect a common canon and a pantheon. 
  • "My version of cinephilia" ME ME ME let's define that word according to my anecdotal life experience. An international roundtable is not the opportunity to reflect on universalisable standards, for everyone. I'm only here to tell everyone to model themselves after ME.
  • When he says "a genuine diversity of perspectives", he means : please let people with crap taste be included in the snob circle. 
  • "Meek’s Cutoff is a waste of everyone’s time, effort and money" well let me break it to you right there, a CINEPHILE would NEVER make such a disrespectful statement! 1) if you didn't like it, it doesn't mean that NOBODY on Earth should watch it or love it, 2) It's not for you to decide whether a bad movie should be made or not. The person who made that film probably knows more about cinema than your little self, this film was selected by competent curators at VENICE, and even praised by some of your peers! So your little subjective, selfish desire for control over film production and cultural censorship has no bearing whatsoever on how the world develops.
  • "the majority of cinephiles don’t make a penny out of what they’d consider their private passion." Why don't you find a business model for shopping addicts, gastronomes or melomaniacs too? Are you talking about "cinéphiles" as in movie-goers, or film enthusiasts? Or are you talking about film prescription pages employees? You realize that only film critics could be paid (eventually)?
  • "I wonder if the “Frenchness” of the cinephilia concept is problematic" LMAO
    Yeah your post clearly states a few evidences of your problems with cinephilia, but you obviously have bigger worries than Frenchness at this point. Clear up your own backyard first. One of them is dropping random French words, and insulting filmmakers while complaining that "cinephilia" is too high-faluting for you... 
  • So basically, you don't want to be a "cinéphile" yourself, but you want every cinéphiles to become like you?

2. Of cinephilia(s) and fandom (Frances Morgan)
  • look up what "canon" means. It's exclusive by definition, the top most on the taste scale. It's not inclusive. If you have a problem with the elitism of canons, that's probably not the word you're looking for... Try "Zeitgeist" maybe, that's inclusive, that's pretty much the embodiment of "fan culture".
  • it starts rather bad, 2 postcards, 2 self-admitted newbies talking...
  • "fandom is not so different from that which drives cinephilia – to commit to either requires passion, amassed knowledge, long hours spent in an alternate world; increasingly it also inspires production: debate, DIY theory, formulation of ideas fresh from viewing, instant connections with others’ opinions." LMAO (see: Project: Validating Indulgent Movie Fandom, literally)
  • useless contribution overall to the "what is new cinephilia" debate, unless you're a fan of Frances Morgan, of course.

3. The zine from here (Mike Everleth)
  • 3rd contributor to the roundtable, patronising us about cinephilia, is not a cinephile but a "fan". So basically "New Cinephilia" is people talking about things they don't know about?
  • So you're saying that film culture should thank fans for the comic books-inspired blockbusters???
  • "Pre-Internet, the main distinction between them was that cinephiles and critics were more apt to be able to make a living at being a fan." AGAIN! (See: Reality Check: Critics are NOT the Film Press) Trying to define a cultural activity by its business model. Damn Capitalists!
  • I guess this guy didn't read the curatorial statement about not going back to the "critic v. bloggers" debate...
  • "Can one be a cinephile and, you know, never go to the cinema?" NO. Can one be a canvas painting amateur and only look at paintings on paper postcards reproductions? Can one be oenologist and drink wine from a carton? Can one be an opera fan and only listen to MP3s? To understand that you would have to value the importance of a unique performance, as intended by the artist/maker, for an optimum experience. If you think any experience is equivalent, you probably don't know enough about that art.

4. Cinephilia as Activism (Mathieu Ravier)
  • "The diversity of what’s on our screens is under threat. And, due partly to ignorance about alternatives, it isn’t being demanded. This offers a tremendous opportunity to define new cinephilia as a form of activism or resistance." First sensible sentence in the debate so far.
  • "A cinephile activist is anyone who lets true cinephilia inform their actions." now you sound like a religious preacher.
  • "Cinephile activism is an inclusive, open-minded enthusiasm unshaped by dominant market forces, unburdened by self-censorship, unafraid of questioning itself, one which is informed by personal history and experience as much as by received wisdom, buoyed by critical thinking, sharpened by constructive discussion, curious of under-represented voices, aware of the underground, and which eventually dedicates itself to enhancing cinematic diversity, innovation and originality." Ditto

5. It’s about time (Andrew Grant)
  • "Thanks to the Internet everybody can be (and is) a critic" WRONG, critic implies values and integrity. Having opinions and showing off taste with a loud voice is not enough.
  • "the cinephile label is what separates writers and commenters on mubi.com from those at movies.com" Why did they change their elitist brand from TheAuteurs.com to WannaBeNetflix.com then???

  • use an accent on "cinéphile" and "cinémaphile" if you meant to write in French, or else you just look like an ass!
  • "cinemaphile" : let's try to coin a new hip phrase to show off! Even though "cinéphiles" already defined themselves for over 60 years as people who watch films on the big screen!
  • "apologies from narrowing the focus of the discussion from the inspiringly general to the solipsistically personal" You know it, but you still waste time and space of a public (and international) debate with your narcissistic anecdotes... Maybe that's all you can write about.
  • "[..] Tsai Ming-Liang, that his work can only be appreciated in a cinema setting (perhaps in his case, a cinema that’s crumbling and deteriorating even quicker than flimsy old celluloid…" Analogical mimetism. Yeah right. Because you can only read Eschyle if you wear a Greek toga, you can only listen to Mozart with a curly powdered wig and a lace shirt, you can only watch The Paths of Glory in a trench and Alien in outer space... LOL

7. Sound, vision, action (Frances Morgan)
  • "Might the increased ease of filmmaking and distribution afforded by digital technology have a significant effect on political filmmaking?" About as much as what the affordability of VHS homevideo did to 70ies political filmmaking...
  • nothing added to the conversation really...

8. Slow! Cinephiles writing! (Mike Everleth)
  • again confusion between "film writer" (producer of content) and "cinephile" (consumer of content)
  • "Certainly there’s a place in the world for slow criticism and oh-my-god-you-have-to-watch-this-right-now-!!!"
    It's not because it has a right of representation that it is included in the narrow topic of "cinephilia". Not EVERYTHING in the world is cinephilia, not even EVERY FILM CONSUMPTION PRACTICES! Either you want to talk about "cinephilia" or you just survey random movie goers and their habits. If you talk about movie fans in general, then you don't need a special appellation for it, that means something else.
  • "Hey, I saw Thor … and I liked it!" Apologetic elite... if you're afraid to be a walking cliché, maybe what you do doesn't speak for itself.
  • "To me, cinephilia meant a removing of oneself from the human interaction of discussing cinema." WTF? Like if cinephiles are any less humans than Tweeter addicts glued to their iPhone and ignoring the people around them...

9. Reclaim The Screens! (Mathieu Ravier)
  • "worship" why the religiosity again?
  • "Reclaim The Screens!" He didn't mean "reclaim theatrical screens for underexposed art cinema relegated to DVDs and illegal downloads"... NO. He's another fatalist, who thinks that if exhibitors prefers to show blockbusters, there is nothing on Earth we can ever do about it... No. What he proposes is to reclaim mini-screens that are readily available and that nobody threatens to take away from you... That's his idea of "activism".

  • "Though I’m not nearly as well versed in German online film coverage as I am in the US variety, my impression thus far is that critics and bloggers here aren’t in a mad dash to churn out content. But then again, cinema (and cinephilia) on a whole seems to be a far more serious affair over here. [..] That it’s possible to receive government funding to mount a film series is nothing short of mind-blowing [..] What impresses me the most are the post-screening discussions, which are usually quite intense, and often go on longer than the film itself. With virtually no softball questions, filmgoers here aren’t shy about holding their tongues and their directness has taken me a while to get used to." Welcome to the real world outside of the Hollywoodland bubble, where critical thinking is not just a myth!
  • Yeah, softball questions are not a problem for your roundtable there apparently...

  • that's it? 2 articles each and you call that a "conversation"? If these were dense with well prepared ideas and perfectly focused problematics, maybe it'll do, like interventions at an academic symposium... but when all you have to say are anecdotes and half-baked improvised rambling, put together as you go, it's too slow coming for 2 rounds and goodbye. There is no hope to get anything meaningful debated other than a juxtaposition of unilateral declarations. If you just exchange trivial stream-of-consciousness without long term prospects, you don't need to extract it from the general noise and highlight it with a special tribune that intends to tackle problems and get to the bottom of it.
  • What did we learn? What did you bring up that wasn't already circulating amongst online film writers in the past couple of years?
  • There is an improvement in the choice of topics discussed (from past similar panels), but it remains purely declarative... listing issues without sorting them, without engaging with them, without thinking them through. This is how the general climate for the average film writer should sound like. But when you step up on an international soapbox to lecture the masses, you need to prepare something a little more reflective and productive! A tribune is for determined thinking (long term), not for aimless rambling of the moment (short term).

source: Online roundtable (Project : New Cinephilia)

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3 commentaires:

HarryTuttle a dit…

I'm not surprised Neil Young identifies himself as a Dan Kois type of self-centered populist:

"I was reminded of Lyra and “Phineas and Ferb” as I sat in a dark movie theater watching Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff.” Like Reichardt’s recent films “Old Joy” and “Wendy and Lucy,” it’s a quiet, arduous chronicle of a long journey through the Pacific Northwest, portrayed seemingly in real time. [..] As a viewing experience, “Meek’s Cutoff” is as closed off and stubborn as the devout settlers who populate it."
Dan Kois (NYT; 1 May 2011)

HarryTuttle a dit…

The organisers aknowledge one of the responses of mubi forum readers and post out of context snipets (highlights in the poster-quote PR style) from the commenters on the Project:New cinephilia mini-website.

Still no interaction of the authors themselves with the readers on these supposedly interactive platforms...

HarryTuttle a dit…

Stupid time management: The Notebook schedules another massive roundtable on Naruse (May 30th) that competes frontally with the attention of mubi readers, right when every efforts should be focused on their "new cinephilia event"...

They don't care a bit. It's all Publicity and the endless cascade of content galore.