05 Sep 2016

New Direction

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Over the past sixteen years I have been working on and developing a very particular type of Cinema, which I believe is formal, personal, and radical. I fully reflected my ideas about these films in this text which can be found HERE. From the very first day up until this very moment these films have been heavily and tremendously rejected, ignored, pushed aside and neglected by more than 99% of whatever platform, system, organization and film critic you can imagine. Because of this it was vital for me to create a structure of my own to produce and screen these films. This organization is called the Experimental Film Society (EFS). Basically, fighting the system and forcing yourself into it at the same time is a stupendously frustrating and exhausting act. It is very time consuming and extremely humiliating because you must call, email, and approach a great many individuals who really don’t care about you and your films or they are simply busy and have no time. As I mentioned, in at least 99% of the cases you will get either no response or rejection. To this day I still haven’t got the slightest clue why showing and distributing these films is beyond feasibility; perhaps I’ll never know. Nevertheless, thankfully with the EFS I was able to screen these films to a small degree and the results have always been surprising and encouraging. The audience either loved the films, and was affected by them, or simply hated them so much that it made them think and ponder – even in the most negative situations there was still an interaction. I think this is something worth spending time and energy on, because have never had an audience that was indifferent.

Now, after all these years I ask myself how much more I can push this agenda, because sometimes it is very tiresome and debilitating. I don’t believe in fighting the system. I don’t believe in being an enfant terrible. I don’t believe art should function as activism. I believe that filmmaking in its own right is a political act, not simply political by the choice of topic or theme. I don’t believe in rebellious acts and annoying everyone just for the sake of seeking publicity. Every single one of these anarchic acts has lost its meaning in this digital age. These days everything is indie, underground, DIY, guerrilla and what have you; being a filmmaker is nothing special anymore as anyone can be a filmmaker. In the same way anyone with a smartphone is a photographer. Now, with the sheer volume of films being produced everyday and perhaps the vast majority of them being dreadful, the system does not need to be picky, specific, thoughtful, and selective. Whatever it wants is already there and has been produced beforehand. As long as it has a conceptual idea and functions as a cargo of information it’s acceptable. The festivals, cinemas, etc. do not need you anymore. Nothing is unique. 

The only thing that matters, like it always was, are the films themselves and history of the medium. In filmmaking and within the machine of Cinema only one thing calculates, hard work. Every single day. Talent, luck and creativity are not always reliable you either have it or you don’t. Even if you do, it is not bankable. The only thing that counts is labour and maintenance of “craft”.

Between 2000 and 2008, I directed and produced forty no-budget short films. Since 2008 I focused on feature projects making thirty-one feature-length films, of which twenty-eight were entirely zero-budget and three low-budget productions funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. In 2011 I initiated the Homo Sapiens Project (HSP), an ongoing series of personal experimental video works and have so far completed 199 instalments. 

Now I plan to go into a different direction with my films. Somewhere still unknown but a new territory … I am still processing and deciding. I am sure this will impact me and EFS for sure. Onwards!

Rouzbeh Rashidi (05/09/2016)