Nicole Brenez is in New York and she's very, very busy. This evening, she's delivering a talk at Columbia University on Recent Developments in Political Cinema (with a response by Kent Jones), followed by another tomorrow afternoon, "An Incandescent Atmosphere": Internationalist Cinema for Today. Then it's off to Anthology Film Archives to launch the series Internationalist Cinema for Today, running through March 11. Off again to Microscope Gallery to introduce a screening of selected works by filmmaker, poet, musician Marc Hurtado (from the group Etant Donnés). And then on Saturday, she'll introduce two more programs in the Anthology series.
Cinespect's Ryan Wells has asked Nicole Brenez to explain the concept of Internationalist cinema and the ensuing interview's an engaging read, but for brevity's sake, I'm turning to her introduction to the Anthology series:
[I]it is a way to move beyond the ego and think of others, especially when they are in danger or in pain. Once — in Spain in 1936, for example — such a move was called "internationalism." Although tarnished by the history of state communisms, this old word still carries strong values that can be used to resist globalized cinema, nationalism, communitarianism, and all processes of identification imposed by geography, history, and bureaucracy rather than existential singular free choice.
This series pays tribute to a handful of still-undervalued internationalist filmmakers (René Vautier, Bruno Muel, Sarah Maldoror, Raymundo Gleyzer, Margaret Dickinson, Yolande du Luart, Masao Adachi via Philippe Grandrieux, Peter Whitehead) whose courage and generosity saved the honor of cinema in times of colonialism and the struggles for independence. It is also meant to honor some of the cinema’s present-day combatants (Frank Pineda, Florence Jaugey, John Gianvito, Laura Waddington, Florent Marcie, Edouard Beau, Olivier Dury, Paul Cronin…) who are renewing these ideals in different political contexts.
Moving Image Source has just posted a collaborative piece by Brenez and Philippe Grandrieux in which they address their series on radical filmmakers, It May Be That Beauty Has Strengthened Our Resolve. Grandrieux's directed the first film in the project, on Masao Adachi; here's a snippet from Brenez:
In response to André S Labarthe and Janine Bazin's wonderful series Cinéastes de notre temps, dedicated to classical auteurs described by their spiritual heirs from the Nouvelle Vague, our series pays tribute to known and unknown filmmakers who have participated with guns, cameras, or both simultaneously, in the struggles of resistance and of liberation throughout the 20th century, and to those who today continue to fight against all dictatorships. Fearless and often heroic auteurs, they are examples of relevance and courage for which the cinema thankfully represents their collective history; filmmakers of the struggles for liberation, often with romantic trajectories, are also those who have most encountered censorship, prison, death, and today are consigned to oblivion.
Updates, 3/8: Listening (90'40"). Phil Coldiron has audio of Brenez and Kent Jones at Columbia.
Justin Stewart in the L on two selections in the Internationalist Cinema lineup: "Iraqi Short Films (2008), realized and compiled by the Argentinean artist Mauro Andrizzi, has a misleading title. Not a selection of 8mm short narratives or docs from true Iraqi filmmakers, it is a mixtape of grainy videos shot by members of different parties of the Iraq War — militia members, Blackwater-style private security forces, and U.S. and British troops — depicting all manner of real-life horrors. Decidedly not for the faint of heart, the videos taken together have a high body count, and might be permanently scarring…. Marylène Negro's X+ (2010) is another mixtape, a comp of overlapping clips from films covering American counterculture movements of the 60s and 70s."
John Gianvito's 2010 documentary Vapor Trail (Clark) screens on Sunday, March 11, as part of the series, and it "invokes multiple histories," writes Aaron Cutler for Idiom. "Gianvito, who in addition to being a filmmaker is a programmer and teacher, sees his separate activities as part of one larger project: his movies are often about collecting, organizing, and educating. Gianvito builds drama at the intersection of multiple struggles. 2001's The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein simultaneously shows racism in American imperialism and against Americans at home; 2007's Profit motive and the whispering wind presents race, class, immigrant, gender, and sexual identity all working together in America's history of labor struggles. A major goal in Gianvito's work is to encourage viewers to take a long view of history, and so empower them with the ability to recognize historical patterns, and change them."