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Thoughts from Cuban post-revolutionary cinema for digital filmmakers of today?
  • I'd like to direct your attention to a very interesting manifesto written in Cuba in 1969: For an imperfect cinema by Julio García Espinosa.

    I feel it is incredibly relevant for the filmmakers of today because it discusses issues such as the possibility for everyone to be filmmakers with cheaper technology (and the problems with that), as well as dangers of adapting to either Hollywood or the snobbery of the European intelligentsia.

    I wrote some more detailed account of my own thoughts on it here: “Art will not disappear into nothingness; it will disappear into everything”.

  • 14 Replies sorted by
  • i had yet to read julio garcia espinosa manifest but i read your post and i liked it, made me think why am i on the filmaking badwagon?( and thats always a good question! :)) but its not an easy awnser ...

    art will disapear into everything is quite actually right. its not like orwell said that we will have our reading material selected for us, its that we will have so much reading material to choose from, that the truly important stuff will get lost in a sea of lot.

  • Not everyone are interested in intellectual excercise, or in intellectual progress.. (Mind, Espinosa uses the means of the intelligentsia to reach his aims/proclaim his message). Before talking about art, cinema or even film - it is in my opinion important to talk about the proposition of those things. If they were granted, given certainties - our world would be quite different. Does cinema even excist any more? If so, it's only barely - in my opinion.

    Sorry, don't mean to be a downer. It's great if you've found something you like. Personally, I'm deeply intertwined in the status quo and catch 22's of Fine Art.. It's easy to get cynical.

  • Interesting manifesto! Thanks for posting :) As someone exploring the potential of the GH2 for capturing images, the debate around filmmaking and art is an interesting one. I find it interesting that many explorers of this new democratisation of filmaking find themselves trying to ape the aesthetic of cinema. It is a very seductive medium (I have my fair share of manual glass for my own pleasures), but often the way to forge a new direction is to rebel agains previous forms, not remake them, although the "New" forms are likely to be rejected at first, on the grounds that they are unfamiliar!

  • BTW: If you have a chance to see "I am Cuba" by Mikhail Kalatozov, do it!

    While it's quite obvious propaganda, it's a masterpiece of classical black and white cinematography as well, with incredible camera movements for the time and including some infrared footage used for aesthetic and not scientific or military purposes. Martin Scorsese himself started a campaign to restore the film in the early 1990s. There's even a documentary about the film by a Brazilian, Vicente Ferraz.

  • @sebasp1 Thanks. That's an interesting intepreatation of the quote - and has a lot of truth too it. I understand it a bit differently: Saying that when the means of making art (like technology, knowledge, time, etc) will be available to everyone, there will not be any need to a special thing called "art" or special role like "artist" - everyone will be able to apply their own criteria of beauty to their every-day life. The internet has allowed this, although in a very limited sense: Almost anyone can be a writer (blogs, social media) or a filmmaker (youtube, vimeo, filesharing, etc). But it's important to note that for this utopia to happen you need a social transformation as well, and this is where the manifesto is stronger in my opinion than usual discussion. Aquí lo tienes en espanol original tambien, ya que veo que eres de Argentina.

    @matthere Yes, after buying those lenses one after another, watching colour correction tutorials, testing the hacks, it is ufeful the ask ourselves what we are doing and why, and what are the broader social/historic tendencies going on. Of course, everyone will have a different answer. I like the way you describe some of us as "explorers of this new democratisation of filmaking". I think this is an important part for many of us - but we must be realistic about how significant or unsignificant the technology shift really is - and then look at other factors limiting our creativity (lack of time, lack of organization, lack of marketing, etc).

  • @arnarfjodur Creative people need sometimes to be unrealistic about the significance of their creative production, I can think of a whole host of reasons not to paint, get the camera out or generally be creative.. It is true that time constraints and organisation do have an effect on what we are able to do, but marketing? This connects to what I was saying earlier, that we need to make, without necessarily thinking too hard about how the "new" stuff that we make will be received. Often creative practitioners need to suspend their OWN judgement when making something new, otherwise innovative outcomes would be dismissed as "wrong" (what ever that means) so I think that one of the considerations that we need to put aside, certainly untill the work is finished, is marketing. Should we pause to find out if our medium is significant? I understand that alondside creation comes doubt and uncertainty about the significance of our work.. but artists choose their medium for it's appropriateness in communicating their ideas, I think they don't worry too much about their materials as long as the message is clear enough to be communicated? :)

  • @matthere I agree with what your saying about not being overly realistic in one's personal approach to creativity. Lunatic optimism is a great driving force.

    What I'm directing my critisism at is that the whole hype about everyone being able to be a filmmaker just because devices that make nice HD images are cheap and because uploading to Youtube is free. It's overly simplistic and misleading. If someone is interested in exploring the concept of "democratisation of filmmaking" - then consumerization of advanced image making technology is great but there are so many other social and economic factors which are even more important. This actually does have a practical significance to filmmakers as a community because you need to understand the factors that you are dealing with - wether it is monopily entertainment capital or canonical "fine taste" that is dictating your environment. You might not be interested in the laws of cultural distribution, - but they are interested in you :)

    I absolutely agree with you however, on a personal level, that you should go out and pour your heart and brains out on whatever excites you creatively - without giving a shit if it gets 200 hits on Vimeo, or goes to film festival, or gets a nation wide cinema release. This attitude is a luxury - and I'll try to adabt it more myself.

  • I would never subscribe to the hype that everybody is an artist just because the equipment is cheap – it's the other way 'round: everybody can become an artist with passion and patience, because the tools are not too expensive any more.

  • @nomad sure, "passion and patience" is necessary, I don't think any serious person would doubt that, but "everybody can become an artist with passion and patience" feels a little too much like a self-motivational mantra to me - and a very lucrative ideology for the prosumer market :) It might be a good as an attitude to have - and I didn't intend my discussion to be a practical guide for anyone, and definately not to discourage anyone in their ventures.

    I personally very much like the idea of "democratisation of filmmaking" - partly because I like filmmaking and partly because I like democracy (in the real sense of the word). And I think it is possible to take steps towards those kind of ideals but then we must start with a realistic understanding of the social/economic factors that govern what we are doing. Not so we can be pessimistic but so that we can find the kind of methods and organizational ways to deal with that.

    I'm not talking about how to become a great filmmaker (lots of people will have solutions for that - some will even have a product that you can buy that will help you) - I'm talking about how to change filmmaking :) I realise not everyone is interested in that kind of discussion, and that's fine.

  • "Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper." Jean Cocteau

  • @Jspatz Yet not everyone with a pencil and a paper is a writer :)

  • So true. But not everyone with big budgets is an artist either…

  • The way people persive art nowdays is quiet different from the times that the manifest was written, cos we already are in those times where everybody can rec and produce with ease a movie or a short film. Even though if the manifest can be applied to a more contemporary interpretation, art in its core has not change at all. Art is a way of comunicating emotions, and thats it. Design on the other way, has to have a proper function.

    Modern art, is more general, and has become a big debate today, cos for modern standards anything can be art, and it is not. That more people can make what they call art, in any of its variations its not properly art in its pure form, cos those works that bring no emotion at all, are just tryouts, they are a process of what one day maybe can be called art. A man has a process to follow before becoming artist, and its in all the time he trys, and perfects its craftsmanship, that becomes one, and the recognitions that involve him after trying out diferent works and variations. And are usually those that generate more emotions the ones that are more recognised and become an ART WORK.

    Art is a process not only a work.

    Why can we diferentiate from a good art work, and a bad one. Only in the amount of emotion it generates in you and others, its function is no more than that. Emotions cant be described in words properly cos they are complex, art can bring you a proper description of emotion in diferent ways, that are not properly placed or even not recognised, but afterwards, it says you something.

    Nowdays the word ART is more general, we already have the posibility to create almost any classic art form we know to date, the materials, the technology, the technics and the people are there. Art has change in the way we create it. Technology has make it more easy to comunicate our feelings, though emotions emerge faster and easier.

    Art is already disolving in everything, and a new form, a more naked one, will emerge from all this information that art has become. I think the way will be more holistic, making art a new system, a new dynamic system interpreted by its all, and no more by its units, like, painting, writing, acting, etc. They are now the basics of art, and anyone can participate, thogh, not everyone can make them work properly together.

    Cine is the fist to include various art forms in one, and thats what makes it more interesting and dynamic.

  • @endotoxic I like your viewpoint that art is a way of communicating emotions, I believe that this way of describing art could help people get to grips with a lot of traditional forms of art. The only concern that I have is that the camera historically and more recently filmmaking can create images that fill the viewer with emotion and yet in the traditional sense are not considered art, for example.. photographs of fluffy kittens or world starvation. I am not trying to undermine your description at all, I am trying to geta handle on the way that photographic/filmmaking tools seem to get past the need for the artist to study methods of communicating emotion.. the tool does that on it's own.. but the outcome (the emotion fueled image) is not considered artistic in the traditional sense.

    I am not saying that photographs or film can't be art, they clearly can and are, just there they are capable of containing many of the attributes of art without being art, which I find very interesting :o)