A certain kind of Cinema

Posted:  December 3rd, 2014 - ARTICLES

A certain kind of Cinema

 

 

By Vfill Prunner

 

 

 

Don’t make bad films.

 

If everyone agrees its good, it’s probably shit.

 

Independent filmmaking, means you have no master.

 

This is not a camera. This is a gun.

 

Don’t sell your children.

 

That which is new, is also old.

 

Banksy is not Picasso.

 

Truth is not agreeable.

 

A good hammer is useful.  Good cinema should be useless.

 

Your job is to burn the place down.

 

Don’t be coward.

 

Welcome to THENEWCINEMA magazine.

 

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

Posted:  December 3rd, 2014 - ARTICLES, FILM, MICHEL GONDRY, NOAM CHOMSKY

 

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? A film by Michel Gondry

 

 

Written by VIFILL PRUNNER

 

 “The world is a very puzzling place. If you’re not willing to be puzzled, you just become a replica of someone else’s mind”

Noam Chomsky

 

I have not seen “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” by director Michel Gondry, but anything that brings the work of renowned intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky to a wider audience, can only be a good thing.  As one of the most cited living person, Noam Chomsky needs no introduction.  But it is a shame how many people know of him as a public figure, yet haven’t engaged with his ideas.  What often seems a rare voice of reason in an increasingly dysfunctional world.  This soft spoken man has a particularly charming way of conversing with his audience, not pitching his views from a scholastic hight, but communicating with them on an egalitarian level.  His theories and ideas along with its supporting evidence, are laid out in concise and simple language which makes them easy to understand and hard to repudiate. While his emphasis on common sense humanitarian ideals make him impossible to ignore.

 

What might make him problematic to many, is that he puts us face-to-face with ourselves, and we may not like what we see.  With his emphasis on individual responsibility and work through activism and solidarety, he put the responsibility of what kind of world we want to live in squarely at our feet.  

 

What makes him problematic to the establishment, is that he is an independent thinker and independent thinkers are inherently antiestablishment.

 

I think many of his ideas be it on striking factory workers or civil rights movements can be relevant to all facets of human interaction.  As many of the problems faced in any profession or community can be traced back to a lack of empaty and solidarity. The “all for me, nothing for everyone else” doctrine so prevalent in western society, may work in the short run, but it is a dead-end strategy for mankind as a whole.  

 

 

You can see “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” on iTunes and Amazon.com

 

 

 

Here are some videos to check out:

 

 

 

 

WORKPLACE DEMOCRACY

THEREALNEWS.COM

THECHOMSKYVIDEOS

 

 

Be Uncomfortable

Posted:  December 3rd, 2014 - ARTICLES

Be Uncomfortable

 

By Vifill Prunner

 

Be uncomfortable, be sand, not oil in the machinery of the world.

 

Gunther Erich, 

German postwar writer

 

I include Orwell’s Proposed Preface to ‘Animal Farm’ , not as a commentary about the political situation of today, but as an interesting view by a great thinker on the relationship between the establishment and the free thinking individual.  Although Orwell was not writing about art as such, the point he makes about the fraught relationship between new ideas and the prevailing orthodoxy, is a fitting analogy and worthy of consideration for anyone working in the arts. 

As he writes:

At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

While it may be hyperbole to compare Orwell’s concerned about freedom of the press, to the relationship a filmmaker has to the establishment, it not too far off the mark.  I read this morning a great article by veteran producer Ted Hope, called Indie film Is Dead, which was written in 1995 for Filmmaker Magazine.  It is a great piece by someone that has an intimate knowledge of the inside workings of what is called independent cinema and it paints a grim picture.  In many ways it only confirmed what I already believed to be true, but its implications are important. 

 

Whatever power structure is in place, its natural goal is always, to maintain its domination and to extract as much benefit for itself as possible.  It does so, not for some nefarious reasons, but it is the default position of all power, to consolidate control and increase its influence.  To maintain this illusion of power, for it always is an illusion when the few dominate the many, it needs to control the narrative.  It does so by rewarding conformity adherence to its rules, a point Ted poignantly brings home when talking about studio executives and there choices.  But beyond that it skews our impression of reality as we actually experience it, by erecting a false value system, based not on objective value, but adherence to the throne.

 

According to Ted the bad guys have won, and maybe according to Orwell himself, revolt is futile as it will inevitable, given enough time simply lead to a new world order of another kind.  But there are these short moments in history when one structure collapses and another one has not yet emerged where there are no rules and individuals are free to shape there own future. And while ultimately we may be doomed to fail again, it are those brief moments, that have rewarded us so richly and are not without reason considered the golden ages.

 

What’s apparent, is that a system that once sustained new ideas, now has become obsolete.  And all the constructs that are supposed to represent independance are mere set pieces and fronts for what in reality, is an indifferent and self serving power structure.  So when we give it legitimacy, whether by actively participating or passively adhering to its principles. We are being part of the problem, not the solution.  The place of todays independent filmmaker should be on the outside, in opposition and defiance of the system, for that is the very definition and feature of independence, to stand appart and stand on your own.  A point not only made by Orwell’s enduring legacy, but a founding principle for innovation throughout the ages.

 

George Orwell

The Freedom of the Press

 

 

Orwell’s Proposed Preface to ‘Animal Farm’

 

 

This book was first thought of, so far as the central idea goes, in 1937, but was not written down until about the end of 1943. By the time when it came to be written it was obvious that there would be great difficulty in getting it published (in spite of the present book shortage which ensures that anything describable as a book will ‘sell’), and in the event it was refused by four publishers. Only one of these had any ideological motive. Two had been publishing anti-Russian books for years, and the other had no noticeable political color. One publisher actually started by accepting the book, but after making the preliminary arrangements he decided to consult the Ministry of Information, who appear to have warned him, or at any rate strongly advised him, against publishing it. Here is an extract from his letter:

 

 

I mentioned the reaction I had had from an important official in the Ministry of Information with regard to Animal Farm. I must confess that this expression of opinion has given me seriously to think… I can see now that it might be regarded as something which it was highly ill-advised to publish at the present time. If the fable were addressed generally to dictators and dictatorships at large then publication would be all right, but the fable does follow, as I see now, so completely the progress of the Russian Soviets and their two dictators, that it can apply only to Russia, to the exclusion of the other dictatorships. Another thing: it would be less offensive if the predominant caste in the fable were not pigs. I think the choice of pigs as the ruling caste will no doubt give offense to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are.

 

 

•It is not quite clear whether this suggested modification is Mr… ’s own idea, or originated with the Ministry of Information; but it seems to have the official ring about it. [Orwell’s Note]

 

 

This kind of thing is not a good symptom. Obviously it is not desirable that a government department should have any power of censorship (except security censorship, which no one objects to in war time) over books which are not officially sponsored. But the chief danger to freedom of thought and speech at this moment is not the direct interference of the MOI or any official body. If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion. In this country intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face, and that fact does not seem to me to have had the discussion it deserves.

 

Any fair-minded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian ‘co-ordination’ that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary.

 

Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news — things which on their own merits would get the big headlines-being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

 

You can read the whole preface at:

 

orwell.ru