Saturday, May 12, 2007

It's been almost three days since i've posted, and have been reading "The Reeler" in which the "wind-down" from Tribeca is discussed. Right now, there's a program going on at Anthology Film Archives: "For Life, Against the War... Again!" In 1967, artists organized the Angry Arts Week, in which all sorts of events were held to protest the escalation of the war in Vietnam. And a huge group of filmmakers (i think it was over 30 in all) collaborated on a huge (over 2 and a half hours) episodic compilation film. Well, there's another war, and another protest, and another compilation film. This time, the Filmmakers Coop is the spearhead, and 28 artists responded, all contributing segments for this work. "For Life, Against the War... Again!" includes Bradley Erod, Jeanne Finley, Alfred Guzzetti, Barbara Hammer, Ken Jacobs, Les Leveque, Cynthia Madansky, Sheri Milner, Martha Rosler, Lynne Sachs, Jeffrey Skoller, Mark Street. The screenings are today (Friday, May 11), tomorrow (Saturday, May 12) and Sunday, May 13; at each screening, a group of the artists will be present, including Artemis Willis, Jim Costamnzo, Lili White, MM Serra, Mark Street and Lynne Sachs. It's also available on DVD, through the Filmmakers Coop, and the sales will benefit anti-war organizations.

The whole issue of how effective art can be politically is a question that keeps coming up. Last night, Jane Fonda was on the Larry King Show, and he asked her if she would ever consider doing a play, and she answered (very emphatically) no, because (in her words) the theater is so small, and she wants to reach the widest audience possible. That's why she'd like to do more movies, and more TV.

Yet is simply going for the widest possible audience an invitation to "action" (political or otherwise)? When Yvonne Rainer started making movies, she said that she was dealing with emotions, and thus going for a wider audience than the one which she had as a choreographer/dancer. But was that true?

And artists: shouldn't they remain true to themselves? Joseph Cornell was an artist who was totally committed to an interior vision, his engagement with the world was very fanciful....

It reminds me of something that Nile Rodgers said... when he was a teenager, he had been a member of the Black Panthers. And yet, as a musician and composer, he created the band Chic and was a leading exponent of dance/"disco" music. And he was asked why he didn't try to make music which would be "political", and his answer was: the work he does as an artist is the work which makes him happy (and, hopefully, other people happy); if he wanted to be political, he would do something political, as he did when he was part of the Black Panthers and was helping to set up the free breakfast program for Harlem.

Anyway, today was spent grocery shopping for the big party on Sunday. And then doing some of the cooking.

However, on Wednesday, i went to the press screening of Manoel De Oliveira's "The Magic Mirror" from 2004, and it's a wonderful movie. Not as slick as his recent "Belle Toujours", it's a little pokey at times (and it runs two hours and twenty minutes), but at the end, when the woman has her epiphany, damn if it wasn't one of the most transcendent moments in recent cinema. Just a marvellous movie.

And yesterday, went to see Ido Haar's "9 Star Hotel", a very intimate documentary about "immigrant" Palestinean workers in Israel. It had been at Tribeca, but i missed it there because i went to see something else instead (it might have been Pascale Ferran's "Lady Chatterley"). But i did catch up with it, and it is worthwhile (a heads-up from George Robinson, who reviewed the film for Jewish Week); it's coming to Film Forum.


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