Walker Art Center
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"Le Cinema est un Language Universel"


or you will be called a lefty. Disney had and still has big problems. But getting back to your five films question. It is hard to name the five films. If I asked you for your five favorite visual artists you would be completely in trouble, too.

PV: Yes, I know. But I might be able to tell you which artists I think have really made a difference in the context of globalism.

CB: A filmmaker close to my heart is Abbas Kiarostami and certainly some African filmmakers as well. Kiarostami changed something in my mind and my way of looking. He is for me the only representative of Iranian cinema. He opened my eyes, my senses, and grabbed me very, very strongly through his cinematic approach and the way he treats his characters.

PV: Is that because he created a new vocabulary of filmmaking?

CB: Well, it's not really a new vocabulary because in some ways it's very close to postwar Italian neo-realism. Many neo-realist films--for example, The Roof or the more popular Bicycle Thief--start from very simple elements. Father, son, a bicycle: that's it. Kiarostami works in a same way. His films prove how with the minimum one can create the maximum.

PV: Instead of creating the minimum with the maximum. Is what you describe close to the critical theory of Third Cinema?

CB: In a certain way, yes. Cinemas such as the Brazilian Cinema Novo and the African cinema of the 1970s and 1980s were using this principle as well. Unfortunately, African cinema has lost its strength at the moment because of the lack of a leading figure comparable to Kiarostami in Iran. An African filmmaker told me recently, "You know what the problem is with African cinema and what's so good about Iranian cinema? Iranian filmmakers were forced to create their own voice because they couldn't look back to other cinemas. They were freed from American influence because those films were banned. That's why they were able to develop a purely rooted Iranian cinema."

I was talking one day with Mansour Sora Wade, and he said, "Whatever you do with your cinema, the most important thing--even if you are trying to create or adapt your work to reach a larger international audience--is to not lose or betray your identity." I think his statement, to not create simply to be a part or a function of the market, is important. It is possible, as he proved with his film, to create without losing your identity and still be part of the market.

PV: You've mentioned the market and the distribution systems of films, and the impact of digital cameras. When we see these images from all over the world, does the medium, the digital medium, derive not only from an economical system but also from a formal system of filmmaking?

CB: We need to make a clear distinction between the standard film format (what we see in the movie house) and the digital cinema. The digital market is still an alternative market, although it's very present at international film festivals. Why is there such a boom in digital images? Before delving into this I want to recount a particular story. When I was living in Ljubljana the war was still going on. I met a Belgrade filmmaker who had just shot an interesting digital film in his home town. "For us," he said, "the digital camera is the most ideal because with a 16mm camera you cannot run as fast. With a mini-DV in your hand you can escape the police faster."

The digital camera allows for a certain democratization of the moving image, which also has a negative side because now there are too many moving images created by people who think they're artists. However, in every wave there occurs a kind of natural selection. We can no longer avoid digital cinema in our practice because it has become a major tool of expression in the contemporary film and visual art world. Because many of these contemporary artists grew up with moving images, it is normal that they use the moving image as an element