This special dossier for Film Quarterly comprises a selection of essays that share the central idea that the work ahead for scholars in the current moment must be to appreciate what has been an ever-increasing complication of the idea of black film and media over the last ten years. This dossier considers significant trends, film and media objects, and clusters of work related to issues of blackness and questions of aesthetics, historiography, industrial practice, collectivity, politics, and culture. It is compelled by a shared belief that requires scholars to remain open to contemporary and future enactments while at the same time recognizing the momentum of the past.
I remember when. Today, conversations that recall an era when there were only a handful of broadcast channels, no internet, and only a few repertory houses for relief do really sound like dad or grandpa reminiscing about World War II or Vietnam: a nod to a time that seems at once tedious and unimaginable.
Filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter weighs in on shifting terrains in the industry. The so-called “crisis” in Europe and North America is a euphemism, peddled by those who have lost nothing in the past few years, to soften the unacceptable shock of the new social-economic order. Among other victims, the culture of the artisanal gesture—authentic, free, and as old as our civilization—has been damaged as never before. Miraculously, in the world of wine, there is a group uniting rich and poor, Left and Right (though mostly Left and middle class) that has resisted with astonishing success. For years, I’ve wondered if my filmmaking colleagues would follow their lead. So I feel deeply relieved and excited to see that a growing number of my fellow filmmakers, consciously and unconsciously, are starting to follow the winemakers’ resistance to a cynical, corrupt, and wholly outdated system of production, distribution, and marketing with their own refusal of cinema’s systems of regulation and self-censorship.
FQ Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich calls readers attention to the film festival and more. In the Spring 2014 issue of Film Quarterly, we pay attention, as always, to film festivals—this time, with a range of voices reporting on the Rotterdam, Berlin, True/False, and Middle East Now festivals. In this issue of Film Quarterly, we pay attention, as always, to film festivals—this time, with a range of voices reporting on the Rotterdam, Berlin, True/False, and Middle East Now festivals. These essays consider the new films on the circuit, but also think through the significance of very different festivals and cinematic histories. Festival coverage will continue to be an FQ cornerstone, alerting readers to important work coming to the public and to the politics of the festival circuit, but also heeding the larger questions of film festival instrumentality. (See the book review section for a consideration of two recent volumes assessing film festival histories.)
Slipping into my neighborhood art house one recent afternoon, I wondered how much longer that theater—the Avalon, a nonprofit community film center in Washington, D.C.—would, could continue to exhibit film.
Paul Julian Smith discusses the Spanish Film Screenings, including No Rest for the Wicked, The Sleeping Voice, and Wrinkles.
FEATURES: A survey of Kathryn Bigelow’s cinema; an interview with Patrick Keiller; a reflection on the links between documentary and avant-garde; and the visionary television shows World on a Wire and Artemis 81
READ: Cristi Puiu Discusses Aurora, At the Edge of History, London Notebook, and Interview with Olivier Assayas
The Internet may have finally delivered avant-garde filmmakers the audience they always claimed they wanted. With experimentation rejected by the moving-image industry, and moving image shunned by commercial art galleries until the 1970s, film and video artists in the twentieth century relied on film festivals, grassroots film clubs, artist-run co-operatives, and art school curricula as channels of distribution.
For the last six months or so the idea that film criticism is undergoing an identity crisis has been gaining momentum. I carry some of the blame for this, having edited a “Who Needs Critics?” special issue of Sight and Sound, and organized and participated in public debates, some of which were even entertaining.