Today has been a day of reading for me. I caught up with a blog thread on the Chicago Reader website where Jonathan Rosenbaum criticizes a NY Times review of Opera Jawa, an Indonesian film that is part of the New Crowned Glory series produced in the Third World. The link to the fascinating back and forth between (someone I suppose is) Mike D'Angello, Matt Zoller Seitz, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Jeannette Catsoulis is here.
This led to thoughts I've had previously about what is going on in 'Third World' cinema, how I would desire that honesty and fearless filmmaking for our theological culture, but it's in opposition to the 'mainstream' that financially and socially any film culture strives for.
I have to reconsider the term 'mainstream,' because what I really mean is 'Classic Hollywood,' as it currently controls most every film market that I'm aware of regardless of the country.
I remember a promotional film that MK2 did about Kiarostami where Michel Ciment spoke about 'Third World' cinema, saying that the modern world believed that everything had already been expressed so its cinema relied only upon post-modernism and meta-cinema. Only places like Iran, Thailand, Taiwan, and the so-called New China has things to say that were worthwhile.
In view of how backward the rest of the United States considers our world view to be (note a recent Church statement on this), perhaps we shouldn't just rush to point out the similarities and "build on common interests" with our BRT-ing, but perhaps we should be take a lesson from the power and vitality of Third World cinema and tell our stories drenched with
Mormon peculiarity, ritual and doctrine.
I later read an article in the current issue of Cinema Scope where Micheal Sicinski places our present historically quite well while reviewing the films of Micheal Robinson (none of whose films I have had the pleasure of viewing). I cite a paragraph to entice and encourage all to read:
"Michael Robinson’s work is at the heart of this new shift. In fact, the development of his film work could be seen as a response to this precise problem: How can experimental cinema retain its connection to history, remaining cognizant of the various crises of representation, without lapsing into nihilism? Or, for that matter, how is it possible to harness filmic effects in order to produce feelings of dread, longing, or even spontaneous release, without veering into ridiculousness or self-importance? How can we accept the failure (for now) of the grand designs of modernity and still operate on a plane of sincerity, commitment, and belief?"
If nothing else, that last sentence should encourage some to read: sincerity, commitment and belief. If we forgot everything else but those three terms, I think our films would be in better shape.
The whole article can be found here.