Friday, March 16, 2007

Other voices, other blogs

Posted By on 03.16.07 at 01:28 PM

Last night, the final session of "Cinema of Tomorrow," a symposium held over the last three days at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, was my own, derived from an article that just appeared in the Spring issue of Film Quarterly: "Film Writing on the Web: Some Personal Reflections." But as I interjected at one point, a more accurate title might have been, "Film Writing in English on the Web."

The symposium was effectively organized by my friend Quintin (see photo) so that the six presentations over three days had a logical flow and development: two rather pessimistic analyses of the way film festivals operate, including Mar del Plata, by Peter van Bueren from Amsterdam and Mark Peranson from Vancouver (whose papers I briefly summarized in former posts); two looks at contemporary trends in films by Emmanuel Burdeau from Paris (who emphasized themes of globalization in films by Abbas Kiarostami, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Jia Zhangke, among others) and Cristina Nord from Berlin (who offered fascinating comparisons between new Argentinean cinema and new German cinema, both strengthened as well as hampered by the task of coping with a dark political past); and on the final day, two rather optimistic analyses of contemporary cinephilia by Alvaro Arroba from Madrid and myself.

All six sessions except for the last (in which time was limited due to having started late) concluded with questions from the audience after discussions among all the panelists, and some of the most interesting moments arose from the onstage discussions among participants. After Cristina's paper, for instance, I was fascinated by Quintin's provocative observation that Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima are both essentially posthistorical films—the first by having been made in a style that suggests a vantage point situated somewhere in our future (that is, after 2006-2007), the second by having been made in a style that was post-40s yet still in our past, i.e. the 1950s or 1960s. (Apparently this idea is explored in some detail in a piece by Quintin to appear in the forthcoming issue of Cinema Scope.) In any case, one thing brought home to me about the limitations of my own paper has been my discovery during this trip of how lively certain blogs are in Argentina—in particular one maintained by Quintin and Flavia de la Fuentes, la lector provisoria, which translates as "the temporary reader," and is devoted to film and several other topics. Lately they've been running a daily Mar del Plata diary of their own, with a link to my last blog as well as posts from Alvaro (who has also been posting to this blog), and they just asked me to e-mail them a few comments about the late American novelist John Kennedy Toole. I can follow their own texts only by using the instant translation mechanism Babel Fish, combined with my smattering of Spanish and my familiarity with Quintin and Flavia. In any case, it was on this site that I discovered a link to a hilarious two-part video called Van Bueren in Love on YouTube, shot by Alvaro a couple of nights ago at a dinner I attended, even though I hadn't noticed that he was shooting it a few seats away from me. The spatial ambiguities and imponderables of cyberspace never cease.

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