New Cinema 27

FCMM tries redefining itself

by Daniel Lynds Volume 2, Issue 4 / October 1998 4 minutes (920 words)

The latest incarnation of the Festival of New Cinema and New Media (FCMM) runs from October 15 to 25 and seems to be another attempt at redefining itself. By shortening the feature length program and expanding others, the FCMM has placed more emphasis on the interactive component of its title. This year’s edition of the festival is divided into four parts : features, shorts, new media, and special presentations. Each section contains contributors from several countries, which will allow for a diverse view of selected media and an interface between these pieces and how the respective cultures inform the use of these media.

The Feature Film section has opted for quality over quantity by programming only twenty-nine films from a variety of countries. Several of these films are by first time directors, some of whom are coming to cinema from other disciplines. There are also films by familiar directors such as: Alexandre Sokurov ( Confession ), Lars Von Trier`s ( The Idiots ), and Steven Dwoskin ( Pain Is… ), to name but a few. This mix of talent will allow for a conversation between various styles and methods of contemporary filmmaking.

A diverse range of films in 35mm, 16mm, and video, running from three to sixty-one minutes, are on offer in the Short Film section. The section, which also mixes new and familiar artists, is comprised of one hundred and nine titles slotted into twenty four programs. In the past, this section has been full of surprising entries that experiment with and attempt to redefine the parameters of the short film. The Short Film section, an interesting alternative to the feature program, provides viewers the chance to see the type of films that will not play in mainstream festivals or theatres.

An important part of the festival is The Media Lounge, located in the Just for Laughs Museum. The Media Lounge, the festival’s nerve center, houses performances, installations, and other multimedia events. The Media Lounge is also where festival fans can meet artists and festival guests in person or electronically. Bringing people together to discuss present and past ideas of media theory and practice is central to the New Media section, which is also found in The Media Lounge. On top of performances and installations, this section offers a wide selection of CD-ROMS and On Line inter-active excursions.

Slated for the Special Program section are numerous portraits, retrospectives, and special presentations. The nineteen film-portraits feature artists from many disciplines. Cinema, of course, is well represented with filmmakers from various periods who have helped redefine cinema’s possibilities: Sergei Eisenstein, Alain Resnais, Lars Von Trier, Ingmar Bergman, and Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Also in the portrait section are films about artists who have influenced filmmakers through their work in other arts. These portraits include artists from painting, poetry, dance, music, and literature. Pieces on Georges de la Tour , Gershwin , Allan Ginsberg , Jack Kerouac , bp Nichol , Les Vasulkas , Marie-Claire Blais , and Kathy Acker will be presented to express the link between cinema and other art forms.

Four interesting tributes are being showcased in the festival, including fifteen films by the always uncompromising and engaging Jean Eustache. Often affiliated with the New Wave, Eustache utilized a direct method of working where he would use minimal means to reveal more than just a contrived, surface reality. In the films of Man Ray there is also a search for the hidden or vanquished. It was thought until recently that Ray`s cinematic works consisted of four films from the twenties. This number has expanded recently as films were found in Ray`s studio. Most of these films are home movies and some are just of Ray observing the environment around him. However, they will no doubt provide an intriguing behind the scenes look at events in Ray`s life. Working together since the seventies, Robert Cahen and Michel Chion have continually explored the relationship between sound, image and text. Using these three facets as a springboard, Cahen and Chion will seek to redefine and present mixes of these relations. Little appreciated Russian filmmaker Vladimir Kobrin will also have works presented in the tribute program. This filmmaker uses whatever means available to him to present a type of theatre which ‘fills the space between the Cosmos and the Earth.’ The last tribute in this section focuses on three films by the often neglected Japanese director Rokuro Mochizuki . Before getting funding for his ‘serious’ project, Mochizuki worked in pornography and B-films. This being said, Mochizuki’s distinct approach to cinema sets him apart from others.

The Special Presentations part of the program contains interesting films with varying subjects. Catherine Gund`s Hallelujah! Ron Athey : a story of deliverance chronicles the current events taking place in controversial artist Athey`s life. Fine Tuning : The Pacific Music Festival Experience , a documentary by Charlotte Zwerin, is a look at one of the world`s most celebrated musical events and the young musicians involved in it. On the same track De Quelle Émotion Inconnue by Stéphane Ginet and Françoise Lebrun, follows a group of young actors at the Théâtre National de Strasbourg. Locarno Half a Century- Thoughts about the future…of cinema , is a collection of short films by seven directors celebrating fifty years of the Locarno Festival. Todd Solondz’s second film Happiness and Ken Loach’s latest My Name is Joe are also part of this program. And Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil will also be presented in a “director’s version” based on original notes that Welles had sent to the studio.

Volume 2, Issue 4 / October 1998 Festival Reports   alexander sokurov   festival of new cinema   festival_fcmm