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Off to the Printers: Film International 61




How to Escape from Brazil? An interview with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek and British director Sophie Fiennes

‘You know that I am still a radical leftist precisely due to my pessimism. For the true Utopia is to think that things can somehow go on as they are. No, if we allow things to drift along the way they are we will be in a new totalitarian society twenty years or so from now. I am a pessimist. That’s why I like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil so much as a portrait of totalitarianism without borders. It will not be the old fascisms with the almighty leader. No, it will be, I think, a falsely permissive and fraudulently inclusive authoritarian system, something very fluid, constantly mutating, shape-shifting to remain the same.’

Slavoj Žižek talking to Rajko Radovic.

Effacing the Effaced: Chris Marker’s Collectivist Period

The film world suffered a great loss in August 2012 with the death of Chris Marker, a pioneer of the medium in many ways. An unfortunate refrain in many of the posts about him, however, was the recurring emphasis on the fact that his 1962 25-minute masterpiece La Jeteé provided the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995) – which is true, but inordinately diminishes Marker’s other monumental achievements on film. Some RIPs mentioned Sans soleil (1983), but only a handful of sites seemed familiar at all with his wider body of work. Marker’s oeuvre ran broad and deep, and even then much of his most interesting work was made when he dissolved his public persona into film-making collectives.

Patrick Tolle resurrects Chris Marker, the collectivist.

Cinema Returns to the Source: Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Despite the span of millennia separating the two cultures and their technologies, the medium of sound film and the cultural practices of cinema have striking similarities with the artistic medium, setting, and patterns of reception of the cave paintings. Herzog alludes to these correspondences throughout the film and even foregrounds them flamboyantly at times. The film also highlights that the paintings are the earliest known instance of the dynamic simulation of mental images in an external medium. As he portrays the cave art in this way, he frames his filming of Chauvet Cave as cinema returning to the moment in history that prefigures the invention of film. With the technological and cultural similarities between the cave paintings and cinema as the backdrop, the film then probes whether the audience’s involvement in its cave sequences may form a bridge back to our ancestors who stood on the threshold to history 35,000 years ago.

Roger F. Cook on Werner Herzog’s film that links cave paintings and cinema.

The Rhetorical Force of Conflicting Emotions in Operation Filmmaker: A Cognitive Approach to Documentary Performance & Emotion

Whereas many recent Iraq documentaries set out to mobilize, pushing their viewers to engage in concrete socio-political action, Operation Filmmaker points to a different kind of persuasive political work that such nonfiction texts might perform. By underlining the untoward consequences of impulsive altruism, the extent to which ostensibly upright actions might serve ulterior motives and the necessity for thinking before acting, the film actually discourages viewers from engaging in the kind of emotion-driven behaviour to which several other documentaries appeal. These evocative lessons, however, fulfill an ideological function of their own, unsettling spectators’ understanding of specific events and of general principles of behaviour, and thus potentially altering our means of knowing and interacting with the world.

Elizabeth Marquis analyses a documentary that ‘communicates its warning against emotion-based decision-making precisely by manipulating spectator affect.’

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