Sunday, November 18, 2007

Did not make it to the screening of Pasolini's "The Gospel According to St. Matthew", wonder how the print was, did see the four Skolimowski films at Anthology. The prints for "Identification Marks: None" and "Walk-over" were not good, more like dupes of dupes, with a very sooty look, however the prints of "Hands Up!" and "Barrier" were decent. Not great but at least mostly clear and not too damaged.

But this week (since Wednesday) went to the Lawrence Weiner press preview at the Whitney. It's a handsomely produced show, but it's rather like an old Artists Space "conceptual" show from the 1970s, only writ large. But it makes me realize that i do have to get to the Richard Prince show at the Guggenheim. Then i went to a press conference for the Iberoamerican film series which is at The Museum of Modern Art. There was a luncheon afterwards, which was fun. The press conference was written about on George Robinson's blog (; one thing i'd like to add is that it was amusing to see how people remain the same. It was wonderful to see Fernando Solanas (whose great "Dignity of the Nobodies" is included; it had been a highlight of the Tribeca Film Festival a while ago), who continues to be an irascible leftist. At the end of the press conference, George wound up asking the last question, which was about the fact that, in US show business terms, the Spanish-speaking market in the US is the most rapidly growing market, becoming increasingly upscale. The success of movies like "Pan's Labyrinth" or "El Cantante" shows the strength of that market; what kinds of initiatives have been made to try to tap that audience? Solanas wound up being the last person to answer, and he gave a very impassioned dissection of the capitalist structured motion picture industry, and the monopolistic practices which do not allow for alternatives.

Then there was a luncheon, wound up sitting with David Noh and someone from the Mexican Film Institute. We had a lively discussion about the current state of the Mexican film industry (which is very healthy, but that can be precarious) and other national cinemas, the fact that the Mexican film industry has always been an autonomous entity, with its own stars such as Maria Felix and Cantinflas, the distribution for documentaries, and so on. Continuing with the question that George Robinson had asked, we touched on the fact that the Mexican cinema used to have its own distribution network (a number of theaters in a few cities) in the United States, which catered to the Spanish-speaking population (mostly Puerto Rican and Mexican) in certain big cities and certain areas. But the elusive "market" is very difficult for "foreign" films to tap into, because the advertising budget for an arthouse film (which is what most of the Iberoamerican films are) can never compete with a major studio release.

But it gave me a lot to think about. And i have to say that i still think "Barrier" is a marvellous film, very quirky and inventive and almost breathlessly energetic.


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