The latest issue of Sight & Sound includes the forum Critics on Critics, in which film critics were asked to nominate a piece of writing that has inspired them in their own work. I was invited to participate, intended to, but unfortunately did not meet the deadline. Had I been able to, the following would have been my submission:
My people speak disapprovingly of an outsider whose wailing drowned the grief of the owners of the corpse. One last word to the owners. It is because our own critics have been somewhat hesitant in taking control of our literary criticism (sometimes – let’s face it – for the good reason that we will not do the hard work that should equip us) that the task has fallen to others, some of whom (again we must admit) have been excellent and sensitive. And yet most of what remains to be done can best be tackled by ourselves, the owners. If we fall back, can we complain that others are rushing forward? A man who does not lick his lips, can he blame the harmattan for drying them?
- Chinua Achebe, from the paper Colonialist Criticism
It is in the spirit of this challenge posed by Achebe that Criticine was started. And with renewed fervor that work on it begins again.
John Gianvito, enduring a George Bush speech in Philippine Congress while in search of material for Vapor Trail (tentative title), on June 11 in a Philippine television archive.
– “From Yesterday until Tomorrow” (Danièle Huillet tribute) by John Gianvito.
- Collage piece by Gianvito for Rouge’s image issue.
- Michael Sicinsky Interview with Gianvito on “Profit motive and the whispering wind” for Cinema Scope.
A portion of an exchange on a “A Committed Cinema” previously available online at this address. It appears to not be online anymore.
On the concept of “audience”
Gianvito: Personally, I always say that there is no such thing as an audience. For me it’s an abstraction. It always comes down to a room full of people with their individual likes and dislikes. And the moment filmmakers make a move in the direction of an imagined audience response, they misstep, and are apt to get lost. I believe the only reliable guide is to attempt to make the kind of film that you yourself would like to sit down and view. And the very nature of that process demands that you “speak” in a way that is natural to you alone. Robert Bresson could no more frame like Glauber Rocha than James Joyce could pen a phrase like Lou Reed.
One is given a voice. One can modulate it. If one chooses, one can coach aspects of its effectiveness. It remains one’s voice. One might pitch it differently to one’s friends, an audience, a constituency. The grain and character of the voice cannot be escaped. One can, however, lose–sometimes even consciously choose to lose–the connection between the sound that speaks and one’s proper self. Regardless, whether disembodied or soulful, calculating or inchoate, there are severe limits on one’s capacity to control how one’s voice is received. It would appear that no one has the power to reach everyone. In the pursuit of making a difference it seems to me that one’s best and only hope is to encourage the continual discovering/uncovering of each unique and solitary voice, allowing them to be the conductors of all that must out. I’m convinced most listeners can hear the difference.