Concentrated Nonsense (cinema edition)

Notes On A Committed Cinema
October 28, 2007, 3:06 am
Filed under: notes, quotes


“For a while I was like the students — emotional,” he confessed. “But now I realize you have to know who you are, where you’re starting from. Each place has a specific struggle. I can’t describe anything except what I know. In France the main battle is at the moment ideological. In America, the Black Panthers may be justified in taking up arms, or not. I don’t know, and I won’t prescribe policy for them. Movies are only a screw in the mechanism of the revolution, a secondary part. But for us in the Dziga-Vertov Group right now, filmmaking is our main activity (for others it may be time to take a gun).”

– Jean-Luc Godard, in an interview with Andrew Sarris for the Village Voice in 1970 (reprinted Jean-luc Godard: Interview)


“The death of an artist is too high a price to pay for the birth of a revolutionary, even when the revolution seems to make more sense than ever before.”

– Andrew Sarris, addressing his reader at the conclusion of the same interview, critical of the turn Godard’s career had taken.


“At some point or other, every leftist cinephile has had to decide to devote him or herself to the aesthetic realm, to engage with representations, to take on faith that “work on the text” has material repercussions and that, pace Marx, interpreting the world is at least a partial means towards changing it. Gianvito’s work does not disagree. Profit motive is, after all, a radical work of art and by no means a pamphlet. Any attentive viewer will immediately perceive Gianvito’s faith in the capacity of art to motivate through both beauty and intellection. But, like a select few others in history of film—the gadflies and conscience-prickers, like Peter Watkins, Straub/Huillet, and Jon Jost—Gianvito makes work that asks a delicate, crucial question again and again. What can film do? And when is film not enough? If you are roused to action by Gianvito’s film but find that inspiration strangely disconcerting, perhaps it’s because it both prompts you to take to the streets, and asks you to reconsider the reasons you may have given yourself for not doing so.”

– Michael Sicinski (website), at the close of an interview with filmmaker John Gianvito about his new film Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, loosely inspired by and a tribute to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.


Reflections On a Committed Cinema
An e-mail dialogue between John Gianvito, Paul Chan and Pablo de Ocampo

– [I think the entire exchange is highly relative to the topic so I’ll forego a quote]