Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It has been two months since i've posted, and a lot has happened. A lot of movies: several festivals, including BAM Cinemafest, a lot of documentaries (the summer series on HBO has been quite fascinating), and various individual films, such as Andrew Bujalski's "Computer Chess". Yesterday, i went to press screenings for a series from the Film Society of Lincoln Center, called "The Cinema of Resistance"; the two films were the 1967 "Far From Vietnam" and the recent "Far From Afghanistan", both collective enterprises which attempted to bear witness to the need for political protest. My feelings about "Far From Vietnam" remain pretty much the same as in the 1960s: it's a very uneven film, but there are so many moments which are stunning. The footage of the various peace marches in New York City, with the crowds in sharp contrast, shouting at each other. The interview with the widow of Norman Morrison, the Quaker who set himself on fire in Washington D.C. in 1965. The footage of the routine of people in North Vietnam, as they prepare for the incessant bombings from the U.S. It's startling to see this now, to be reminded of the force of the political passions of the period.

And "Far From Afghanistan" is also very uneven, but it's also intermittently powerful. The situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, far more murky and unclear than the situation in Vietnam. It is a political minefield, yet this particular war is a reminder of the intense class struggle which has emerged in this country in the new millennium. But this class struggle remains displaced.

The Vietnam War was considered the first war to be televised: the intense coverage of the war was thought to have contributed to the spreading of anti-war sentiment. In this century, the access to information has been severely limited: the coverage of the war in Afghanistan has been incredibly curtailed.

The contrast is particularly galling because we are seeing those who have attempted to bring information to the public's attention get pilloried. Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden: though there is outrage at their treatment, there has not been the sustained defense which greeted protesters in the 1960s.

It was sad to see those two movies, and to realize that the impetus for revolutionary action has been so relentlessly compromised.

In today's IndieWire, Peter Knegt had an intriguing article about LGBT films in the last decade: the fact that there seems to have been a diminishing theatrical audience for lesbian and gay films. This also ties into the situation of alternative film, alternative politics: the audience has been conditioned by the fact that traditional commercial entertainment has brought lesbian and gay content to the mass medium. Shows such as "Queer as Folk", "The L Word", and "Will and Grace" have made gay content normative, and so the need to seek out gay content as an alternative has been curtailed.

I'd like to write more about this, but i'm a little rusty. As i mentioned, it's been two months since i blogged, so i need to get back into the swing of things.


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