From: Jason Cortlund (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Dec 18 2007 - 22:07:07 PST
Thanks for your thoughtful response. As someone who also has years of
festival programming and operations behind him, I understand that "lazy" may
sound a bit harsh. That was more intended for the numerous whack-a-mole
festivals that pop up every year--the ones that crib their programming from
other established festivals, the ones that cash their $40 entry fees without
contributing anything new to the community. I did not mean to imply that any
or every festival that doesn't write its own original program notes is lazy.
Perhaps I overstated a bit (which always makes for fun discussions).
I certainly understand the constrained resources that festivals face--those
constraints of funding, volunteers, and a returning knowledgeable staff
recently forced the closure of an institution that I put a lot of love and
thousands of (completely unpaid) hours into over twelve years. It was a
miracle-of-many-hands that our festival survived as long and as well as it
did, in this country of ours.
But I must say, your inclusion of the word "knowledgeable" makes me
uncomfortable. One doesn't need a doctorate in studies or to be previously
familiar with a filmmaker's body of work to write two or three honest,
original sentences about an individual film. I'm not saying you can hand
writing off to just anyone, but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the
potential of student interns, or those without credentials that qualify them
as "knowledgeable". I've seen lots of great writing done by undergraduates
with a genuine interest in experimental work. And one of the best
experimental film writers and programmers I know has never been to college
or worked for a fancy arts institution. Passion trumps knowledge, in my
book. But I'm afraid even that's a scarce commodity these days.
I respect your experience and those of other festivals that just can't make
original writing happen in terms of resources. But I stand by my post and
I'd urge any festival to leave the safety of the shore and to try and do
more original catalog writing. It pays dividends to the organization, to the
artists, and to the community at large.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.