Walker Art Center
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"Le Cinema est un Language Universel"


forced him to be creative, and it was this apparent limitation that inspired him and other Cinema Novo filmmakers. They were political activists who wanted to express themselves. In Marins they found an example demonstrating that money isn't as important as creativity and the will to tell your story. Money is a Hollywood concept. Very important movies have been made on almost no budget. In the United States, examples include the early films of Jim Jarmusch, films by Cassavetes, and so on. The Cinema Novo movement was very important in the political language of Brazil.

At the moment we see something similar happening in China. The digital camera has created new possibilities for many Chinese filmmakers to express themselves outside the political system. Digital filmmaking has contributed to a kind of democratization process that enables more people to express themselves. It's cheap; one can film without thinking of expenses and even edit at home. A videocassette is also easier to distribute illegally than film reels. In this way the digitalization of the image is having an impact comparable to the introduction of 16mm and Bolex cameras in the 1960s. This democratization of cinema, first in the 1960s with the 16mm camera and now with the digital camera, has created throughout the world a direct cinema with greater political content. The sociopolitical views of the 1960s are certainly in a period of revival right now, although the approaches are different because it is a different world today.

PV: What does the term globalism mean to your practice?

CB: Globalism in film, like globalism in its broadest definition, has its good and bad sides. There is definitely greater access to world cinema at this moment than ever before. However, the problem with world cinema is that the European market tries to get their hands on it, in the same way that the markets drive the visual arts world. For instance, many African filmmakers live in France. They're not really familiar with the French film industry, but they get funding to make their films through governmental organizations. A prerequisite to receiving such funding is to have a French producer. Often, not really knowing this producer (as happened with Senegalese filmmaker Mansour Sora Wade and his film Ndeysaan [The Price of Forgiveness]), they go ahead without first building a relationship. Oftentimes, these producers are merely after the money and tell the naive filmmaker that the money has run out even before the film is finished. Where the money has gone remains a mystery, and nobody asks, as long as the producer's books are in order. It's an awkward system that protects the producer more than the filmmaker. The international sales agents, who are holding tight reins on the sale of non-European films, are another obstacle. Thai cinema, films from China, Iran, Hong Kong, South Korea, Argentina, and Mexico are all reaching new heights of popularity, overshadowing even American independent cinema. It is painful to know, however, that these sales agents sometimes interfere with the look of the film or request that the filmmaker do a new edit. Take for instance Jia Zhang-ke's Platform. When I saw it in Venice it was twenty minutes longer than the version we received here to screen. The French sales agent had requested that the filmmaker cut it down. He told him that they wouldn't be able to sell it at the original length. Even independent world cinema is becoming more and more a product of sales and marketing considerations. This is in opposition to the original intention of the filmmakers--of every artist--whose concern is in the first place to get exposure for their work. They want their work to be seen, but it has become unavoidable with the rise of the film and art markets that they lose their creative freedom and no longer have a say in what is done with their work. Isn't that right?

Aside from these factors, and coming back to my own practice, we face another misfortune as programmers. We are charged a lot of money by the sales agents for screenings because, as they say, there are too many festivals at which to show global cinema and only those who can pay will get the product.

PV: Is globalization essentially an economic phenomenon?

CB: Globalism is rooted in the economy. In our practice we use the term globalism in another connotation. We see globalism as opening the windows to the world, but the reality is that globalism is and remains a factor of the market and the economy. We borrowed the word from economics. Our vision of globalism and our dreams are of a completely different order than those of economic globalism. However, in our practice we are so often confronted with the economic side of things that we get frustrated in our global thinking.