Statement by the 68th Festival’s Director, Marco Müller
Last year we re-evaluated the Festival’s schedule, renewing the Horizons (Orizzonti) sidebar to make our screenings more flexible and adapting them to a more expanded cinema (as also happens this year, even in the Retrospective program).
We wanted to offer a new pace at which to view cinema and stimulate a return to the adventures of the eye and to the various trajectories of a global, yet not indiscriminate, vision.
Our objectives have remained the same: to engage and provoke the public’s intelligence and sensibility with the evidence of images that can fascinate you, make you dream, but also make you think; to search for the richest idiosyncrasies, gathering them not through assimilation but by means of comprehension, through an open encounter, an active process of seeing.
All too often, in fact, cinema loses its ability to negotiate: it doesn’t modify, it doesn’t interfere with common sense and the collective imagination. What is contemporary is not necessarily what is current: rather, it is what we feel is urgent, because it sets itself apart from everything that is merely happening in that moment. The feeling of contemporariness is not acquired within and through devices, or within and through techniques. In the latter, you might find a mere topicality. Each new technique is just a provisional, transient mode: creativity cannot be subordinated to it, as it has its constants and its needs but knows no obstacles, except when it insists on magnifying those obstacles.
When cinema is understood as a force, an ensemble of energies, it gathers and directs a way of feeling and perceiving. This is why we can sometimes say that a director and a film are our contemporaries – because they correspond to the way we feel and chime with our contemporariness.
We cannot put too much trust in those who always have a new and brilliant odd idea. Instead, we should reinstate the importance of filmmakers who have never ceased to elaborate and re-elaborate the same ideas, constantly putting them to work.
Having just one style is not as valuable as the possibility of exploring different styles; most important, however, is to focus not so much on the style but on the hold of images. It is on that hold, that authority that the real degree of “contemporariness” of a filmmaker depends.
It is possible, then, that filmmakers who died decades ago seem more “contemporary” than others who are active today. And it is precisely “major contemporaries” such as Roberto Rossellini and Nicholas Ray who are still needed today, for us to be able to understand the world in 2011 and to reflect on cinema more deeply than what happens in the work of other, more “current” filmmakers.
What matters in cinema is the ability to account for the gestures and movements of the men and women of an epoch, which Rossellini and Ray certainly shared. One begins to wonder whether most of today’s cinema lacks their humanity, despite all the films in which we can easily recognize our petty, present-day problems.
At times it might seem that the tradition of cinema has settled once and for all, after over a century, into predictable formats that are anchored in the history of our recent past.
But even in the age of proliferation, of mass reproduction, art that uses technologies can help us rediscover the wonder of a sensitive knowledge which, rather than remaining mere spectacular evocation, can be transformed into authentic experience. One only need reflect on how contact with the multi-media arts has contributed to a new, evolutionary phase of cinema.
This is changing the relationship between films and their audiences, and the way films are produced and perceived. New codes capable of reciprocal complication are finally invented and provided, which can enrich not only the mimetic, but also poetic and philosophical dimensions. It is from the multiplication of such codes that a fresh quality of representation is born.
New, experimental forms are attempted, new sensibilities are instituted, so that cinema can reclaim part of its portal role in the invention and exploration of images, relying on the unpredictable poetic resources of a world in which people seem resigned to endure vulgarity as a kind of necessary evil.
For some of us (and obviously I include myself), our personal history blends with the history of the forms and the periods of cinema. Cinema adopted us, as orphans of certainties and truths, offering us an extraordinary reward: the feeling of finally belonging to the world (precisely what communications, in their current state of maximum development, can no longer offer).
So we had to try to give something back to the cinema: in my case, an untainted passion and determination with which a highly motivated and professional team and I have put together – for those who make, distribute them or simply love films – this 68th Venice Festival.