From: Ken Bawcom (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Dec 18 2007 - 22:36:04 PST
Thanks Jason. By "knowledgeable" I didn't mean one has to have a
degree, and I'm sure some undergrads could fill the bill for some
films. But, to place a filmmaker's work in proper context, it is best
to be familiar with their work. I don't believe that most of those
programmed at the AAFF are taught at an undergrad level. So, while I
don't doubt the intelligence and enthusiasm of student interns, I think
to produce the quality of program description you are arguing for
requires someone with a broader viewing experience of exp. film. Even
with my experience of screening for 19 years, and attending the AAFF
since 1967, and viewing exp. film in some other venues as well, there
are filmmakers that I don't feel I know well enough to write a truly
good review of their work. On the other hand, I'll admit that I could
improve vastly on some of the blurbs I have seen. Brilliance in
filmmaking doesn't always mean literary brilliance as well...
Quoting Jason Cortlund <email suppressed>:
> 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.
> Best regards,
> Jason Cortlund
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
"Those who would give up essential liberty
to purchase a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty, nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin 1775
"I know that the hypnotized never lie... Do ya?"
Pete Townshend 1971
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.