Distance(s) #12

Autohystoria - Raya Martin, 2007, DV


Trop tôt, trop tard - Straub-Huillet, 1981, 16mm


Apichatpong #4, or: past lives

Ghosts will appear under certain conditions, when it is not quite dark and not quite light (at the break of dawn or twilight). At first the dead don't realise that they are dead. When they pinch themselves, it still hurts. They think they still have their own bodies. But it's just an illusion; all in the mind. They walk around talking normally to people, but no one takes any notice, no one can see or hear them.

A.W. sketching the Monkey Ghost, 2009, via @Chaisiri_T

As far as I can remember, the story went something like this: The main character was a man with a travelling cinema show, he made open-air presentations in villages and temples. One day a very mysterious man hired him to show a film in a temple that was a long way off. By the time he had arrived and set up the projector and film screen, it was after dark. Gradually people started to arrive in the darkness. While the film was running, the audience all sat still in an orderly fashion, their eyes looking up at the screen. They did not show any emotion, nor did they speak to one another until the film ended. Then they all got up and wandered away. At dawn the next day the film-show owner realised that he was in the middle of a cemetery, and that he had been paid to show a film for ghosts.
When I finished reading this story, I felt sad: even ghosts wanted to watch films, just like everyone else. They were ghosts that still wanted to dream; they paid their final offering of money to buy dreams, which was film. If you notice the people around you while watching a film, you will see that their behaviour is like that of ghosts, lifting up their heads to look at the moving images in front. The cinema itself is like a coffin with bodies, sitting still, as if under a spell. The moving images on the screen are camera records of events that have already taken place; they are remnants of the past, strung together and called a film. In this hall of darkness, ghosts are watching ghosts.

--Apichatpong Weerasethakul, "Ghosts in the Darkness", A.W., Filmmuseum Synema Publikationen 12, 2009, p.113. [Above: The Memory of Nabua, p.192; Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Below: A Letter to Uncle Boonmee; Tropical Malady.]


Distance(s) #11, or: Rouch

Cimetière dans la falaise - Jean Rouch, 1950, color, 16mm


La chasse au lion à l’arc - Jean Rouch, 1957-64, color, 16mm


Everything or Nothing

There is a sense in which the speed and inevitability of film's development will quickly and inevitably render most criticism obsolete. Its radical novelty and uniqueness lie in the unparalleled malleability of the temporal medium that gives us an unprecedented grasp upon the nature of causality itself. It is this that confounds the noblest attempts to constitute its ontology.

--Annette Michelson, preface to the English translation of Noël Burch's Theory of Film Practice (Secker & Warburg, 1973), p.xi.

COHN-BENDIT: These screens, this equipment, these videos, these books... you're really gonna get rid of everything?

GODARD: But it's not getting rid of things — it's all just a bygone era. Anne-Marie [Miéville] did it before I did. It's over — you can barely create anything. The cinema is a small society that was formed a hundred years ago, in which there were all these human connections, money relationships, relationships having to do with women — and that's gone. The history of the cinema isn't one of films, just like how the history of painting isn't one of canvases. The cinema barely existed. I personally attempted to turn it into something else. But these days, I'm on my last legs.

--FILM SOCIALISME: Jean-Luc Godard in conversation with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Télérama 3148, 13.05.2010. Trans. Craig Keller: Cinemasparagus, 16.05.2010.





COHN-BENDIT: You also show that Europe's original sin is Palestine. You put this across with two or three images and a very old photo.

GODARD: That's one of the first photos that we have of Palestine, and it's Elias Sanbar who tells the story: in 1839 Daguerre presented his invention, the daguerréotype, at the Académie des sciences. A swarm of photographers then rushed off to the holy lands, and nowhere else. Probably because there was a desire to see if the words of the Bible were true.

COHN-BENDIT: There are people obsessed with the Jews, and when they're told, like Shlomo Sand, that there are Jews, but that Jewish citizenry is a legal creation of the '40s, they go nuts and don't accept this discussion. And there are others who are obsessed with the Palestinians. The two tell me so much about how things operate. They're looking for the ultimate victim, shoving it in our faces. I for one say: cut it out, I'm not on any one side, let's try and have a discussion... Why this obsession with Palestine in your work?

GODARD: Palestine is like the cinema: it's searching for independence. It took me ten or fifteen years to say to to the producer: you've agreed to put out so much money, give it to me, I'm the one who handles it. That's been a real fight, even with Jean-Pierre Rassam, to get control over the film. Just like with my father: you've agreed to give this to me, don't ask me what I'm going to do with it, have faith in me. Nicolas Seydoux, of Gaumont, told me: well look it, the money I'm giving you — are you gonna blow it?

COHN-BENDIT: If someone proposed to you to set off for Israel and Palestine with your new little cameras, would you go?

GODARD: But you don't film that way! Some people do it, they're documentaries, sometimes interesting ones. I watch the discussion programs a lot, like C dans l'air, but I do it for practice, to see if I still have the ability to give a comeback.

--FILM SOCIALISME: Jean-Luc Godard in conversation with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Télérama 3148, 13.05.2010. Trans. Craig Keller: Cinemasparagus, 16.05.2010.

Ici et ailleurs - JLG & Anne-Marie Miéville, 1976, 16mm/video


William Lubtchansky, 1937-2010.

[stills from three unused takes; Klassenverhältnisse, 1984, b&w, 35mm]

"The first generation of the cinema belonged to the producers; the second, to the directors; now the third has come, that belongs to the authors."

--Jean Renoir, speaking in the late 1930s, cited by Janet Bergstrom in "Oneiric Cinema", Film History 11, 1999, p. 114.

Even to the harbour, the greatest in the world, peace had returned, and only now and then, probably influenced by some memory of an earlier view close at hand, did one fancy that one saw a ship cutting the water for a little distance. But one could not follow it for long; it escaped one's eyes and was no more to be found.

--Franz Kafka, Amerika, 1927.


Keep to (the) Left #2

British Sounds - JLG / Dziga Vertov Group, 1969, 16mm


Solidarity with the struggle of the philosophy students and teachers of Middlesex University! Info here, and a petition.


Distance(s) #10

Girl - Stephen Dwoskin, 1971, 16mm


Deux fois - Jackie Raynal, 1968, 35mm