This editorial was written on the Fourth of July, that annual orgy of barbecues and tin-hat patriotism made worse this year by the unprecedented arrival in US cities of bomb-grade fireworks—explosives that shook the ground, sending dogs cowering and possibly softening up the urban population for a battlefield future. This appears, however, in the FQ issue emerging just prior to the 2020 US presidential election, an event destined to change the future of this country and the world and, yes, the film and TV world, in ways that are equally unpredictable, confusing, and terrifying.
There was a dustup last fall over an op-ed by Martin Scorsese in the New York Times and his earlier interview with Empire magazine.1 Controversy erupted after he compared the movie franchises based on Marvel comic books to theme parks, saying they weren’t cinema, that he’d never go watch them, that they are ruining cinema. Hardly surprising! With the exception of his own delightful Hugo (2011) and his tireless World Cinema Project rescues of global film history, Scorsese is known for his own brand: a cinematic realism of hard streets, hard men, and hard mob battlegrounds, always set in specific pasts (New York, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Boston) and always etching the DNA of masculinity onto the screen with unfailingly precise craftsmanship.
After too many editorials penned in the shadow of the 2016 election, all suffused with a mix of nostalgia and dread, perhaps it’s time to change the lens. As a grumpy daughter, I used to complain that my anxious mother could always find the cloud around any silver lining. Consider this editorial, then, an attempt to break with such attitudes and appreciate the silver wherever it may be found. And since dire times can inspire great writing, Film Quarterly should have ample cause for celebration in future issues, too, as the news out of Washington DC shows no sign of turning any less dire—and, in fact, worsened with the Senate hearings in the fall and the confirmation of a certain Supreme Court justice (no, I will not include his name) in defiance of women’s testimonies and an unjust process grounded in brutalism and misogyny. The state of the country, the state of government, the state of cinema: these are not unrelated entities.
B. Ruby Rich From Film Quarterly Summer 2018, Volume 71, Number 4 Turning sixty is a landmark. No, not mine: it is Film Quarterly that this year marks its ripe old age and can reassert its claim as the oldest continuing film journal in the United States. Thanks to its dedicated contributors, staff, editorial boards, and, of course, the University of California Press, its publisher and steward, FQ remains young and vital even today, alive and kicking, and, I’d like to think, better than ever. Anniversary celebrations kicked off in Toronto in March, where the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference offered an occasion for the FQ reception at SoHo House. The gathering was a wonderful mix of Toronto locals, FQ contributors and masthead notables, Criterion moguls, UC Press staff, and a kinship network of FQ friends and family. A slideshow of Film Quarterly through the ages was assembled and presented by FQ editorial assistant, Marc Francis. A first run of postcards drawn from four different editorial eras (Ernest Callenbach, Ann Martin, …
FROM THE EDITOR Turning Sixty B. Ruby Rich FEATURES Unrest: Gender, Chronic Illness, and the Limits Of Documentary Visibility Megan Moodie Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama, A Virtual Report Linda Williams INTERVIEWS Searching For Nelly Kaplan Joan Dupont “I Was Never Afraid,” An Interview with Lucrecia Martel Gerd Gemünden and Silvia Spitta COLUMNS Letter from Madrid | La Llamada, Paquita Salas, And The Javis Paul Julian Smith Elsewhere | The War for Nostalgia: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat Bilal Qureshi On Platforms | What It Means to be High Maintenance Caetlin Benson-Allott FESTIVAL REPORTS Report From Tbilisi Jerry White A Mechanism Capable of Changing Itself: Berlinale 2018 Selina Robertson The Scales of Justice: Sundance 2018 B. Ruby Rich PAGE VIEWS Cinema and the Anthropocene: A Conversation with Jennifer Fay Nicholas Baer BOOK REVIEWS Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist by Thomas Doherty Carrie Rickey The End of Japanese Cinema: Industrial Genres, National Times, Media Ecologies by Alexander Zahlten Rea Amit A Dance with Fred Astaire by Jonas Mekas Girish Shambu Going Viral: Zombies, …
Gianfranco Rosi’s Intimate Stories
Slow Violence in Heli
Dissecting the Okja soundtrack
The Business of Exhibition at 100
Interviews: Kenya Bariss and Kevin Jerome Everson
Film Festivals: Yamagata and Thessaloniki
“FQ” the Film Quarterly podcast presents SUNDANCE EDITION 2018.
There are many Flaherty Film Seminars. The one I first encountered was the image of a staid, cliquish institution, as shared by Jonas Mekas in his Lost Lost Lost (1976). In one extended sequence, recorded in 1963, Mekas, Ken Jacobs, and several of their friends try to crash the week-long gathering in rural Vermont with the hopes of screening Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (1963) and Jacobs’s Blonde Cobra (1963). They’re turned away, but no bother: the group sleeps outside in their truck and film themselves rising with the sun.
Syrian Cellphone Documentaries
Rithy Panh’s Exiles
Emiko Omori’s Camera Eye
Virtual Reality: Beyond the Platform
Casting JonBenet, Multiple Maniacs,
Their Finest, The Jewel and the Crown,
Bellas de noche, Plaza del la Soledad
Reports from True/False, Full Frame, Orphans
The idea that a struggle can be waged via cinema is an appealing one today, as so many other battlefields seem already lost. For me, there is always hope lurking in film and television and, increasingly, online media. Political obstacles may seem insurmountable, but as I am fond of declaring: nobody has to elect a film. You can buy your ticket or download the new season or share the latest upload or streaming evidence and—at press time, at least—no one can stop you.