Cinema e Espaço Público

29.11.2011

Ontem participei num debate com António Costa (Clap Filmes), Paulo Fonseca (Fila K Cineclube), e Tiago Santos (Caminhos do Cinema Português) sobre cinema e espaço público no TAGV, em Coimbra. No texto de apresentação lia-se: “O gosto pelo cinema é um pretexto para uma conversa sobre a programação e exibição cinematográfica. Os públicos, a sua fidelização ou os novos públicos. Os filmes que se podem ver e os que gostaríamos de ver em Coimbra. Como ver e onde ver.” Escrevi estas linhas para iniciar a conversa pelo meu lado:

Diz muito bem o texto de apresentação: públicos em vez de público. Mesmo assim penso que preferia espectadores. O que alimenta a programação é o desejo de um novo espectador, seja este um membro da audiência habitual ou ocasional. Isto é, aquele ou aquela que permanece, que fixa os olhos no ecrã e apura os ouvidos, que dedica a sua atenção ao filme que corre à sua frente. A programação é, nesse sentido, um convite. Vem. Queremos mostrar-te isto. Achamos que vale a pena dispores parte do teu tempo para estares aqui. E este é um convite dirigido a uma pessoa, não a um consumidor de cultura. Quem consome é também consumido, exactamente no mesmo gesto. Por isso, é importante passar a ideia de que programar filmes não é programar espectadores. E isto é especialmente verdade em relação aos espectadores que regressam. A fidelidade deve ser vista como uma aventura que exige uma certa audácia.

Neste sentido, falar de espaço público é falar de um lugar de partilha. É claro que o cinema pode ser visto num espaço privado. Mas, como toda a arte, convida à partilha, à conversa, à diferença (e não à indiferença). No outro dia, um conhecido blogue português dedicado ao cinema e à música, lançava a pergunta: “Como consumir cultura em tempo de crise?” Volto à questão do consumo cultural. Consumir cultura remete para uma acção indiferente, sem verdadeiro interesse ou envolvimento, que se alimenta até ao fim do que consome e depois procura outra coisa para satisfazer o apetite. A fome fica intacta. Que fome é essa? É a de que as criações culturais nos marquem, deixem marca em nós, nos transformem, nos façam parar, nos atirem para fora do acto automático de procurar incessantemente outra e outra coisa, muitas vezes semelhantes. O espaço público leva-nos ao confronto com os outros e a ver esse tipo de resposta nos outros. Em todo o caso, e estou aqui para trazer o ponto de vista de um professor, aquilo que se deve incentivar é que os jovens (mas também os espectadores em geral) tenham esta disponibilidade para a singularidade de cada filme—isto é, para se dedicarem ao que olham e ouvem, para se maravilharem, para serem livres.

Tem sido essa ideia que dirige o ciclo Cinema às Segundas que mostra alguns filmes recentes, importantes, que não passaram em Coimbra. E no futuro teremos outras iniciativas com filmes mais antigos, ou até obras contemporâneas que não tenham sido exibidas em Portugal, nomeadamente como apoio às cadeiras de cinema do curso de Estudos Artísticos. Programas de filmes como estes têm uma função pedagógica, mas tal como os estudantes devem encontrar o seu caminho, também o essencial é que os filmes falem por eles próprios. Penso que, no essencial, a nossa tarefa é criar um espaço no qual o cinema possa falar e ser escutado, despertando a vontade das pessoas falarem e serem escutadas. A cultura é precisamente o que acontece quando há esse encontro e é, por isso, sempre um processo dialógico.

Research Seminars in Film and Television Aesthetics at Herts

21.11.2011


Encontros Cinematográficos 2011

15.11.2011

Time Networks

14.11.2011

I am one of the organisers of the next NECS conference, along with António Marques and Susana Viegas (both from the New University of Lisbon), that is taking place in Lisbon in 2012. The conference already has a web site and, of course, the NECS site has useful information, not only about the event, but also about the organisation. Here is the call for papers:

Time Networks: Screen Media and Memory
The NECS 2012 Conference
Lisbon, 21st-23th June 2012
hosted by the New University of Lisbon and the University of Coimbra

Submissions deadline: 31st January 2012
Please address all inquiries to conference@necs-initiative.org

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
Elizabeth Cowie (University of Kent)
Andreas Fickers (Universiteit Maastricht)
Lúcia Nagib (University of Leeds)

Our memories of the 20th and the 21st centuries are informed by the images and sounds that have recorded and/or fictionalized events during this period of time. And yet, images and sounds are elements that are in, and not simply of, the world. They affect us and create new effects simultaneously, shaping, inviting, and proposing new ways of seeing, hearing and knowing.

From the first actualités through to contemporary 3D cinema and television, our technological and media culture, so spectral in nature, has begun to be disseminated so far and so wide, and has penetrated so deeply into our culture, that it has changed our experience of time.

In part this is because the globalized nature of electronic networks and the transnational nature of information exchange, which allows for an unparalleled flux of images and sounds. So widespread and fundamental have these changes been that it is urgent to reflect on the aesthetic, cultural, and political consequences of our media in general, not least in terms of how they shape our understanding of time and history.

Given the new regimes of time and space that our screen-saturated and media-dominated culture has encouraged, and perhaps even created, a simple question is therefore raised: how have the diverse media practices affected our individual and collective lives?

The 2012 NECS conference “Time Networks: Screen Media and Memory”, which will take place in Lisbon, aims to address this general question, and to tackle the different issues connected with time in relation to our screen-dominated media culture. In this way, the conference will draw upon and add to the rich and scholarly discussion of diverse media practices and their connection with the concepts of memory, history, and the temporalities of everyday life.

Topics may include, but will not be limited to, the following:

Screens and memory
• Cultural and economic development
• National cinematelevision
• Film festivals, industry and cultural identity
• Collective memory and History
• Arts and new media
• Genre theory

DIY, new media and social networks
• Internet and new media
• Internet and social networks
• Society and public sphere
• Popular uprising and new media
• Democracy and screen studies/new media
• Copyright
• Archive and the digital shift

Time, theory and philosophy
• Philosophy and cinema/television/new media
• Politics and aesthetics
• Pedagogy and literacy of media
• Philosophers’ legacy: Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, Bergson, Deleuze, Cavell…
• Phenomenology and psychology of time and memory

Scholars from all areas of cinema and media studies (radio, television, new media etc.), whether previously attached to NECS or new to the network, are invited to submit proposals for contributions.

We especially encourage pre-constituted panels in order to strengthen the thematic coherence of individual panels.

There are two ways of participating in the Lisbon conference: (1) by individually organizing a pre-constituted panel within an already existing network such as a NECS work group (see member section of the NECS website - www.necs.org) or a research project. The members of the NECS work groups are especially encouraged to put together a pre- constituted panel; (2) by proposing an open call paper outside a pre-constituted panel.

Please note that individuals may submit only one paper proposal, either to the open call or as a part of a pre-constituted panel.

Panels may consist of 3 to 4 speakers with a maximum of 20 minutes speaking time each. All presenters are obliged to provide us with a title, an abstract of max 150 words, 3-5 key bibliographical references, name, institutional affiliation and a short bio of the presenter.

Panel organizers are asked to submit panel proposals including a panel title, a short description (up to 100 words) of the panel and information on all the papers as listed above.

Please submit all proposals before January 31 2012 through the submission forms at this site. Notification will follow shortly thereafter (around February 29, 2012).

The conference language is English.

Participants will have to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses. Travel information as well as a list of affordable hotels and other accommodations will be posted on this site and the NECS website in Spring of 2012.

Conference attendance is free, but valid NECS-membership is required to participate. Participants must register with NECS at www.necs-initiative.org and pay their fee by april 1st. For the terms of NECS membership, please also refer to the NECS website).

Founded in February of 2006, NECS, the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies, brings together scholars and researchers in the field of cinema, film and media studies with archivists and film and media professionals. A first NECS workshop was held in Berlin on the occasion of the network’s founding in 2006, followed by large international conferences in Vienna 2007, Budapest 2008, Lund 2009, Istanbul 2010, and London 2011. Over the last five years, NECS has attracted close to 1.000 members worldwide.

THE NECS CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
Melis Behlil, Sofia Bull, Aurore Fossard, Paulo Granja, Olof Hedling, Petr Szczepanik

THE NECS STEERING COMMITTEE
Melis Behlil, Jaap Kooijman, Tarja Laine, Trond Lundemo, Patricia Pisters, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Malin Wahlberg

THE LOCAL ORGANIZATION
António Marques, Sérgio Dias Branco, Susana Viegas, Irene Aparício, Patrícia Castello Branco, André Dias, Susana Nascimento Duarte, Paulo Granja, Liliana Navarra, Barbara Vallera

About the Art of Filmmaking

09.11.2011

Elitism

08.11.2011


Film socialisme.

In June 2010, Jean-Luc Godard presented Film socialisme (Socialism, 2010) in Paris. According to Elena’s description in her blog Woman with a Movie Camera:

An audience member, a man in his early 20s, takes the microphone and, in true French fashion, starts rambling on for five minutes, saying that he found the film somewhat hermetic and elitist–but “it is sometimes the job of the artist to do that.” And then he asks Godard, “Did you want to capture on film moral regression?”

Stung by the accusation of “elitism,” Godard snaps back: “If you look at a painting by Rembrandt, you don’t think it’s elitist. But he worked for the kings. Moliere worked for Louis XIV. Did they think of themselves as elitist? I was trying to affirm a point of view. You see the sea. What’s hermetic about the sea? Why do you look at the sea and think, ‘I don’t understand?’ Who’s the elitist here? I think it’s actually you, more than me.”

Godard’s straightforward remarks touch the heart of his cinema—exactly as when he says that cinema is not a reflection of reality, but the reality of that reflection. His films turn existing things (images, music, ideas, objects, landscapes, gestures, sentences) into elements of film, into things that can be experienced cinematically. Any reflection on them has to spring from, and to happen within, the realm of experience. That is why, as I have written elsewhere, the key word here is attention—or care.

The Lost Distance

07.11.2011


Figs. 1a-d: The Lost Weekend.

In the first scene of The Lost Weekend (1945), directed by Billy Wilder, Helen (Jane Wyman) arrives at Don’s (Ray Milland) apartment. He seems to be going away for the weekend (which will not happen). He appears to have stayed away from alcohol for a few days (which is not true). He hides the truth and keeps his distance from her and his brother Wick (Phillip Terry). Yet Helen approaches Don and tells him to bend down. He closes his eyes (fig. 1a), bends down (fig. 1b), turns his face to her (fig. 1c), and they kiss (fig. 1d). His closed eyes signal the mechanised nature of a succession of gestures that he probably has done many times and that he does not refuse to repeat. She utters a command not a request. He gives the impression of being reluctant, but follows the order. The distance between them is lost.


Figs. 2a-b: The Lost Weekend.

Don and Helen’s kiss is too precise, almost clinical. They mouths touch—but nothing else. He does not want to acknowledge their intimacy. So her apparent coercion seems to be a way to counter his apparent resistance. The film plays with the distance that Don imposes on those around him. Later, in the bar, the insinuating Gloria (Doris Dowling) moves behind him when he is seated and uses a single finger to briefly touch his neck (fig. 2a). He interrupts the movement by grasping her hand (fig. 2b). Don avoids contact and closeness, whatever dissolves his isolation and makes him feel vulnerable and connected (vulnerable because connected).


Figs. 3, 4a-d, and 5: The Lost Weekend.

The first flashback of the movie shows how Don and Helen first met at the theatre. That night, he throws an umbrella in her direction instead of politely giving it to her. This is not just a rude gesture, but an action that exposes the distance between them that Don wants to maintain, but that she conquers little by little. The end of the second flashback reveals the first time when she asked him to bend down with the same hand movement (fig. 3). This moment makes clear the link between the space that he tries to preserve around him and his alcoholism. It is split into shots and reverse-shots in contrast with the moment in the opening scene. His refusal is therefore underlined. He stares at her, defiant (fig. 4a), and drinks one last time (fig. 4b) before looking at her, immobile (fig. 4c). He is waiting for her response. It is all in her hands. She then puts her right hand on his face and cleans his lips with her thumb (fig. 4d). Next, she grabs his head and lifts herself up to kiss him (fig. 5). The distance that separates them disappears—for a little while. He does not offer resistance when she grabs him and kisses him. Their union is the result of her determination and will that, as the initial scene demonstrates, can overcome the determination and the will that he lacks.

(Post-)Conflict Cinema

05.11.2011

I am participating in this momentous conference with a paper on Roberto Rossellini’s Paisá (Paisan, 1946) — more on that when the time comes. Further information about the event may be found here.

In and Out of Character

04.11.2011


Do the Right Thing.

O meu orientador de doutoramento, Murray Smith, Professor Catedrático de Estudos Fílmicos da Universidade de Kent, apresenta a conferência “In and Out of Character” no dia 14 de Novembro, às 18:30, no Auditório IV da FLUC. É uma grande honra recebê-lo na Universidade de Coimbra.

De modo a preparar o evento, serão projectados previamente dois filmes dirigidos por Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing (Não Dês Bronca, 1989) e Clockers (Passadores, 1995), nos dias 4 e 11 de Novembro, às 17:00, na Sala 13 da FLUC. Aqui fica o resumo da conferência, em inglês:

In the preface to Philosophy, Black Film, Film Noir, Dan Flory writes of the “rat’s nest of beliefs” that underpin our viewing and experience of any film–and especially those films that engage with the history and politics of race. This is an apt image for a domain which is indeed enormously complex, messy, and not a little uncomfortable to confront. In this paper I focus on three questions, of increasing generality, posed by Philosophy, Black Film, Film Noir. The first and most particular of these questions: is Flory right to say that Sal (in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing) a racist? My second question kicks the debate up one level and asks: how does the figure of the “sympathetic racist”—exemplified by Sal and by Rocco in Lee’s Clockers, and on Flory’s account, a central device in these films—work rhetorically? Finally I turn to the first of the three terms in the title of Flory’s book, by asking: can we regard these films as engaging in a kind of philosophy?

Delivery, Not Philosophy

03.11.2011


Letter from an Unknown Woman.

Clara Rowland (Universidade de Lisboa) leccionará o primeiro seminário transversal do programa de doutoramento Materialidades da Literatura, intitulado “Delivery, Not Philosophy: A Carta no Cinema”, no próximo dia 11 de Novembro. A sessão tem início às 14h, na Sala Ferreira Lima da FLUC. As inscrições para a sessão serão limitadas, podendo os interessados inscrever-se por correio electrónico através do endereço materialidades.da.literatura@gmail.com. Eis o resumo do seminário:

Este seminário parte de uma dupla hipótese: por um lado, assenta na convicção de que a partir das relações e tensões entre escrita e cinema é possível pensar relacionalmente ideias de literatura e ideias de cinema; por outro, apoia-se na ideia de que as representações materiais da escrita (livros, cartas, diários) podem fazer-se eixo desse confronto, apresentando-se ao mesmo tempo como figuras da literatura e da materialidade da escrita. A carta, circulando insistentemente pela história do cinema, parece solicitar como resposta uma interrogação das implicações teóricas do confronto entre voz, palavra e imagem no cinema. O trajecto proposto considerará estas hipóteses a partir de dois casos contemporâneos e paradigmáticos—Letter from an Unknown Woman (Carta de Uma Desconhecida, 1948) de Max Ophüls e A Letter to Three Wives (Carta a Três Mulheres, 1949) de Joseph Mankiewicz—, articulando-os com os problemas da representação da carta do cinema mudo ao cinema contemporâneo.