Walker Art Center
"Le Cinema est un Language Universel"

PV: You mentioned Hollywood and dominant versus dominated forms of cinema. Do you think that the move toward a more global network is providing a counterculture, a politically counterpublic voice?

CB: There is an urgent need for voices that counter the power of politics and economics. We need more Public Enemies shouting "Don't believe the hype."

Part of our practice and mission is to create awareness. Considering the time in which we are living and what we do for a living, we carry an important responsibility. Whatever we do, whether in visual arts or in film, we need to open a dialogue not only about art for art's sake but about culture, identity, society, politics, and humanity. We can't relive a sixties idealism simply by returning to that political theater or regurgitating those political statements. To reach our audiences, we have to define a contemporary and actual context for speaking and expression. It is absurd to create a new kind of counterculture. More important to my point of view is to pave ways toward as many audiences as possible, to participate in the dialogue we are trying to establish throughout our programs.

The exhibition How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age and Rineke Dijkstra's piece in the Walker's permanent collection[2] are proof of our search to fulfill such a mission. Both the exhibition and Dijkstra's video installation tell a great deal about a culture, in the "now." They are not there in the galleries with the intention of bringing future hotshots to public attention to show how smart we are; they are there because we feel that they represent a need to be seen at this moment, that they reflect the pulse of the times rather than being timeless. That's how I select my film programs as well. We need to keep our feet on the ground. We have been entertained enough. In all of our efforts, we should create an awareness or a countervoice (rather than a counterculture) without (I keep repeating this) provoking. I don't know how many people we'll reach, but if we keep on this way and if we are articulate enough about what we are doing, if we tell the story well, people will listen. It is important now to not give up under the pressure of a more popular-oriented tendency that is overshadowing the world right now--mostly directed by power-sick politicians. What we do is, in this overly controlled political and economical world, needed now more than ever.

PV: When you say we've been entertained enough, I think of the etymology of the word entertainment. If you go back to the Latin root, it means "to look somewhere else." It is like creating a fiction, distracting one's attention . . .

CB: I see contemporary entertainment more as a type of easy escapism.

PV: So do you think the cinema that is emerging through a more global model--what you call the cinéma modeste or the cinéma d'urgence--is embracing a form that is different from that of the cinema intended to entertain?

CB: Certainly.

PV: Something else you mentioned, which I find very important, is storytelling. I remember talking with a filmmaker in China who told me, "We do documentaries, we don't do fiction, because what we want to do through documentaries is to tell stories and to embrace storytelling." Is there a link there with cinéma modeste?

CB: I see cinéma modeste as an answer to the realities of television. Chinese filmmakers or a filmmaker like Frederic Wiseman, for example, counter the new "reality TV" and those shows that make entertainment out of the misery of others. Wiseman never makes cuts in his films (which sometimes run four hours or longer) to make the subject more appealing. In television, thirty seconds without a cut is already a sin. Wiseman lets his subjects speak. He keeps everything that passes through his lens: the sadness, the beauty, and so on. You see this as well in Chinese realist and direct cinema. These filmmakers don't want to make their stories spectacular. On the other hand, there also exists a certain desire in Asian cinemas to copy the West. Certainly South Korean cinema is taking a little twist. It comprises a group of serious, independent filmmakers, but the call

2 Reneke Dijkstra, The Buzz Club, Liverpool, England / Mysteryworld, Zaandam, Netherlands, 1996-1997.