In May, Sequence Press published
Writings, a new collection of texts by Jean-Marie Straub and Daniéle Huillet edited and translated by Sally Shafto. The publisher has generously allowed us to re-publish Jean-Marie Straub's 1959 text "Status of the New Filmmaker" in Sally Shafto's translation.
Renato Berta, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, taken on the shoot of Fortini/Cani. Photo from Renato Berta's portfolio, courtesy Sequence Press.
Although the cinematograph has today reached a highpoint of perfection, its position is nevertheless critical, because if it has reached this level by the love alone of a few artists, it is still ready to fall into oblivion.
Of all the persons who work or who get mixed up with the cinematograph, only a small fraction comprise the intelligent artists who, with certain innate abilities, have a passion for work and art, make every effort to discover new principles and to deepen those that already exist.
Such an artist does nothing whose effects he isn’t aware of or that he hasn’t analyzed. Nothing escapes his observations and he is ready to take any path, if it combines his aptitudes with what has been discovered before him.
The art of the cinematograph is nothing other than the application of space in time.
No one will be received as a master of cinematographic art who is not of honest and moral character.(1)
May 1, 1959
1959 Original language: French First published in Jacques Bontemps, “Nouveau cinéma à Pesaro,” Cahiers du cinéma, no. 180 (July 1966): 51.(2)
1 Straub’s directive here echoes Plato’s inscription at the entrance of the Academy: “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.” —Ed.
2 Straub’s quotation is preceded by the following note by Jacques Bontemps: “These small or very small budget films are austere and severe in their appearance, and wish to be so. Ethics and aesthetics, as is known, are one. This is why no doubt Jean-Marie Straub doesn’t hesitate to give, following L’Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire des Sciences (1765) and the Livre des Statuts des Horlogers de Paris (Manual for Paris clockmakers), a status to the ‘new filmmaker,’ or perhaps to the filmmaker tout court.” —Ed.