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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

George Sluizer lectures on cinema's future: The only attitude of a superior man is to persist in an activity he recognizes as useless, to observe a discipline he knows is 'sterile' and also utterly 'inconsequential.'

Approaching Ground Zero with video camera


Dutch director George Sluizer (both versions of The Vanishing) delivered the Variety Cinema Militans Lecture in Utrecht on Sept. 27. “The lecture,” reports Variety, “is one of the highlights of the Netherlands Film Festival [and] has been delivered by some of Europe’s leading filmmakers, including Peter Greenaway, Krzysztof Zanussi and Agnieszka Holland.” All 4,200 worthy words are at the link; here’s a taste.”To put myself and you in the right spirit, let me start this Cinema Militans Lecture with a quote by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa: “The only attitude of a superior man is to persist in an activity he recognizes as useless, to observe a discipline he knows is ‘sterile’ and also utterly ‘inconsequential.’ ” “Cinema” is, or I should say was, a thing of the 20th century. The film d’auteur died recently with the death of Bergman and Antonioni… In 2008, do we still need to devote our time to theories regarding film language, structure, style, editing, camera positions and all the other things we studied and were curious about 50 or 75 years ago? Today, the business of images for mass consumption is responsible for 95% of the media industry, including film for maybe 2% or 3%. Should we be nostalgic about the avant-garde filmmakers and essayists of the 20th century? No. Their way of filmmaking is now past history: very seldom today can we see films that remind us of the craft of “direct visual storytelling,” cinema that produces images that in principle need no explanation with words. Cinema is ruled by other media: television, DVDs and the Internet, and whatever is invented next. The Internet has many more consumers and much more influence than cinema ever had, and therefore it also has much more power. The new technologies determine and rule the business. They are responsible for the new way of communication between the people of the world… From an economic perspective, there is no point in investing in a delightful, memorable, challenging or subtle film, except if the product has a chance to make money. Politically speaking, art is unnecessary, because one does not need art to survive. The need for spiritual and artistic nurturing seems to have faded. It lives on mainly because some people need to fight the triumphant materialism and crave for emotions and emotivity as a proof of their existence… There are two processes that human beings cannot stop as long as they are alive: one is breathing and the other is thinking. Thinking makes us present to ourselves; thinking is the main component of our identity. Thoughts are the only assured possession we have. Thinking is supremely ours, and buried in the uttermost privacy of our being. No other human being can think my thoughts for me… There is a dichotomy, a deep fault between our old classical education and the speed of technological development. The two don’t match anymore. The abyss grows. What we have to learn is to think, something not usually taught in schools. To stay in sync with tomorrow, to learn to think, we have to learn. We have to re-adjust our mental education and mental training. Can we, for example, conceive of a society in which thinking is rationed… restricted to certain hours of the day, like food in the war was?” [Much more at the link.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch