Cinephilia as Activism

Kino #45  Photo by Sarah Kukathas

Postcard from Sydney, by Mathieu Ravier

Hi everyone,

I’ll start by claiming cinephile pride. Perhaps it’s because I’m French, but the word “cinephile” works for me. I like “fan”, but how many people out there don’t consider themselves fans of film? A distinction seems necessary, and in years of watching (reading about, writing about, dreaming about) cinema, no better term has been suggested to me. It describes – from Ancient Greek to French to English – someone with a passionate interest in cinema. That’s us, isn’t it?

In recent years (as I write this even!) the way in which we make, watch, share and talk about films has changed. Merci technology. More people seem to be joining the conversation and that conversation seems to be both more fragmented and less inhibited (by class, by education, by gender, by geography). Continue reading

Céci n’est pas un cinéphile

verpool (Lisandro Alonso) 2008 Argentina/France/Netherlands/Germany/Spain 84 min

Postcard from Sunderland, by Neil Young

Dear Frances (Mike, Matt and Andrew),

Of all the people to kick off a debate on New Cinephilia, they somehow picked me. I turned 40 in March, and there’s so much of current and recent and classic cinema with which I’m unfamiliar – if I reeled off the list of prominent directors of whom I have never seen a single movie, you’d be understandably shocked and startled (details of how I’ve managed to miss out on these guys’ work can perhaps be saved for later in these exchanges, though my preference for, if possible, seeing films on the big-screen is one factor, my 15 years as a horse-racing official another). So, by most cinephile’s standards, I am most likely not eligible to achieve proper “cinephile status”.

Or am I? As cinephilia – and New Cinephilia – evidently demands an engagement with current trends in cinema, is it necessary to (a) know who’s in the New Cinephile Canon at any given time, and (b) have seen at least one movie by those directors generally accepted as lurking within the pantheon? (just to reassure anyone who reckons I’m little more than a multiplex-haunting cine-philistine, I am up to speed on the likes of Albert Serra, Lisandro Alonso, Apichatpong Weerasethakul Claire Denis, Jia Zhang-Ke and James Benning, though that isn’t to say I’m a cheerleading fan for all of their films.) Continue reading