Courtisane festival 2013
Twelve years, give or take. There comes a time when one has to ask what makes it worthwhile. Seeing, discussing, showing pieces of cinema, all the while trying to make sense of them, and of ourselves in the process. We are not in this to make a living, surely. But it has to do with living nevertheless.
Perhaps the time has come to try to put into words where we stand, or rather in which direction we are heading. More of an open-ended itinerary than a well-devised directory. What is there still to say about cinema? We know it is not the dominant medium it once was: cast out by television, hollowed out by publicity, bought out by the dream machine, walked out on by its public. It is no longer the medium that captures the imagination of the masses; instead, it is being captured by the logic of the market. In return it also means that the “audience” (a word that has more and more come to remind us of statistics) expects cinema to hold up a mirror, to function as an ideological resonance chamber. It is for this sociologically determined “audience” that most films are scripted, fabricated and distributed, more as raids on the cultural market than as forms of production (of art, of thought, of life).
Should we come to the rescue, knights in shining armour? Certainly not: there are still plenty of knowledgeable professionals out there supporting and cultivating cinema in its many forms. The only thing we can do, we amateurs, is try to configure the cinematic landscape in a different way, to propose a counter-geography. Yet this has nothing to do with setting out the “future” or “destiny” of cinema. Rather, we are more and more inclined to renegotiate some basic assumptions, or rather: some basic questions. It is a trust issue really, boiling down to the question, “What can cinema do for us?” What can it teach us, about ourselves and the world we are living in? And this might seem overreaching, but it is not. We just forgot about some things. Most of all, we forgot about the promise cinema once stood for: the promise to give us a place in the world. Not by holding up a mirror to ourselves, but by mapping out a space and time where we could meet the other.
The truth is that we, as spectators, hardly ever feel addressed any more, at least not as human beings (all the more as cultural consumers). The truth is that it has become rather difficult to attribute a cinematic work to a desire (all the more to a strategy). “The love of reality is much stronger than reality,” Pasolini once wrote about Rossellini’s films. We have come to understand, not without fear and trembling, that it is this true, relentless love we need, now more than ever. Because it is what can make us experience the world anew, in the here and now. And love also means resistance. That is why we continue to look for works that radically or gently question what is considered to be the common “state of things”, either by redrawing the landscape, rearranging the places and paths we tend to call “reality”, or by displacing the angle of vision, revising what is seen and what can be thought about it. From where we're standing, reality does not need affirmation, it needs invention.
Finally, we should never forget that “we” would be nothing without “you”. That is what this festival is all about: this fabric of sensations and impressions is here to be shared. In the end, there is only one thing a festival can endeavour to do: to create a sense of community, to become a community of sense. Alone together, at least for a while.