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REMODERNIST FILM

REMODERNIST FILM MANIFESTO


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Art manifestos, despite the good intentions of the writer should always be taken with a grain of salt as the clich goes, because they are subject to the ego, pretensions, and plain old ignorance and stupidity of their authors. This goes all the way back to the Die Brcke manifesto of 1906, and continues through time to this one that youre reading now. A healthy wariness of manifestos is understood and encouraged. However, the ideas put forth here are meant sincerely and with the hope of bringing inspiration and change to others, as well as to myself. Remodernism seeks a new spirituality in art. Therefore, remodernist film seeks a new spirituality in cinema. Spiritual film does not mean films about Jesus or the Buddha. Spiritual film is not about religion. It is cinema concerned with humanity and an understanding of the simple truths and moments of humanity. Spiritual film is really ALL about these moments. Cinema could be one of the perfect methods of creative expression, due to the ability of the filmmaker to sculpt with image, sound and the feeling of time. For the most part, the creative possibilities of cinema have been squandered. Cinema is not a painting, a novel, a play, or a still photograph. The rules and methods used to create cinema should not be tied to these other creative endeavours. Cinema should NOT be thought of as being all about telling a story. Story is a convention of writing, and should not necessarily be considered a convention of filmmaking. The Japanese ideas of wabi-sabi (the beauty of imperfection) and mono no aware (the awareness of the transience of things and the bittersweet feelings that accompany their passing), have the ability to show the truth of existence, and should always be considered when making the remodernist film. An artificial sense of perfection should never be imposed on a remodernist film. Flaws should be accepted and even encouraged. To that end, a remodernist filmmaker should consider the use of film, and particularly film like Super-8mm and 16mm because these mediums entail more of a risk and a requirement to leave things up to chance, as opposed to digital video. Digital video is for people who are afraid of, and unwilling to make mistakes.** Video leads to a boring and sterile cinema. Mistakes and failures make your work honest and human. Film, particularly Super-8mm film, has a rawness, and an ability to capture the poetic essence of life, that video has never been able to accomplish. Intuition is a powerful tool for honest communication. Your intuition will always tell you if you are making something honest, so use of intuition is key in all stages of remodernist filmmaking.

I like the idea that people are picking up the thing that I started with, and are running with it on their own.

Any product or result of human creativity is inherently subjective, due to the beliefs, biases and knowledge of the person creating the work. Work that attempts to be objective will always be subjective, only instead it will be subjective in a dishonest way. Objective films are inherently dishonest. Stanley Kubrick, who desperately and pathetically tried to make objective films, instead made dishonest and boring films. The remodernist film is always subjective and never aspires to be objective.

Remodernist film is not Dogme 95. We do not have a pretentious checklist that must be followed precisely. This manifesto should be viewed only as a collection of ideas and hints whose author may be mocked and insulted at will.

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The remodernist filmmaker must always have the courage to fail, even hoping to fail, and to find the honesty, beauty and humanity in failure. The remodernist filmmaker should never expect to be thanked or congratulated. Instead, insults and criticism should be welcomed. You must be willing to go ignored and overlooked. The remodernist filmmaker should be accepting of their influences, and should have the bravery to copy from them in their quest for understanding of themselves. Remodernist film should be a stripped down, minimal, lyrical, punk kind of filmmaking, and is a close relative to the No-Wave Cinema that came out of New Yorks Lower East Side in the 1970s. Remodernist film is for the young, and for those who are older but still have the courage to look at the world through eyes as if they are children.

** The only exceptions to Point 5 about video are Harris Smith and Peter Rinaldi; to my mind they are the only people who have made honest and worthwhile use of this medium. This manifesto may be appended/added to in the future, as further ideas develop.

- Jesse Richards, August 27, 2008

n our image-saturated culture, speed has become the dominant paradigm. Hollywood creates films in which the narrative is propelled along with such velocity that there is no time to actually engage with whats happening on the screen. Rapid editing creates works that scorch the senses and over stimulate the audience, but leave little space for contemplative thought. In films like Transformers (2007) or Battle Los Angeles (2011), the continual whirlwind motion of camera movement and edits precludes little but a dizzying adrenal rush. In part, this is linked to new digital technologies which allow for more material to be shot cheaply, and with nonlinear editing now commonplace, filmmakers are freed from the previous constraints of more traditional filmmaking. It is also linked to the apparently endless proliferation of media that is now dominant, as if audiences crave constant sensory thrills via TV, internet and mobile devices, with film rendered a mere adjunct to these media. There is a move, however, by some filmmakers to return to a slower, occasionally even elegiac, form of filmmaking, in which aggressively presented action has been displaced by a slower, gradual unfolding of themes in which the established three-act plot structure may not even occur in a traditional form. In films such as Kelly Reichardts recent western, Meeks Cutoff (2010), the classic aspects of the genre the wagon train, the grizzled prospector, the indigenous native are present but no longer presented as the focal point of the film, which instead follows the vast empty landscape around which the settlers and their rickety wagons travel, as they wander lost through the desert in barely spoken anxiety. The film presents the journey in mumbled conversations from which women are so often excluded, with the sound design dominated less by voices than by the rattle of the wagons, the relentless footsteps of horses and humans, and the sounds of the world around the protagonists. Meeks Cutoff is only the most recent example of a quieter, more contemplative form of filmmaking, but such cinema has a long history. Perhaps the best known examples would be the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, such as The Sacrifice (1986), which are characterised by long takes, little dramatic action, a lack of classic narrative structure,
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