11 Feb 2015

Past, Present & Future of Cinema


“Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon’s reflection.” Rūmi

Today we are bombarded with an innumerable amount of moving images. The world is flooded with media and it is impossible to digest all of these images or even breathe under the weight of such a vast and growing mass. Only by creating work that is unique and completely personal, deploying horrifically alchemistic imagery within a Cinematic context (of which the history is deep, ruthless and oceanic), can we push forward and define ourselves away from any monotonous or repetitious engagement with moving image that seems to stream from all sides. Anything that resembles reality, naturalism and ‘perfection’ is hiding behind a safety-guard, and this is deeply worrying. With an intimate and personal Cinema we can push forward in this seemingly all-encompassing medium and destroy any boundaries or safety mechanisms, nobody should feel safe, not when they are watching a film! From D.W. Griffith to John Ford, from Kenji Mizoguchi to Raul Ruiz, from Maya Deren to Marguerite Duras, from Louis Feuillade to Terence Fisher and from Jean Epstein to Paul Sharits we have been electrified by poetic imagery and form- we have been fuelled for many years to come.

Three quotes by Jean Renoir which, in my view, are extremely important:

1_“In the history of all the arts, the arrival of perfect realism has coincided with a perfect decadence.”

2_“I wonder whether man isn’t gifted for the beautiful, despite himself, but whether his intelligence, that devastating faculty (intelligence is terrible, we only do stupid things with intelligence)—whether intelligence doesn’t push us toward the ugly. Whether our intelligence doesn’t make us servants and desperate lovers of everything that’s awful and horrible, and whether our tendency to imitate nature isn’t just a tendency toward what’s ugly—because the things in nature that we imitate aren’t the beautiful things in nature.”

3_“When the technique is primitive, everything is beautiful, and when the technique is perfected, almost everything is ugly, except things created by artists who are ingenious enough to overcome technique?”

What is Cinema nowadays? This is a big question I have been arguing with many people over the past few months. The arguments evolved around three recurring key subjects which certain people were defending as what Cinema should be, all of which I found extremely limited, frighteningly reductive, conservative and strange to an extent that I will never truly understand:

1_Cinema needs a big screen and it is a communal experience: not a big screen = not Cinema. Furthermore: Cinematic spaces vs gallery/museum vs Internet.

2_The battle between celluloid and digital.

3_“Artists’ Cinema”, “moving-image art" or “experimental” filmmakers.

Cinema is ‘The Seventh Art’, it has a past, present and an exciting though unknown future, but it will always be there and it can be presented in an unlimited number of ways.  Is not the most important thing who makes it?  What type of imagery he/she uses? And firstly how they understand the film history behind it and finally express what they want to express? Filmmaking is the simultaneous engagement with past, present and future, when you make a film you are engaging with history, yours and that of the medium.