The New Cinephilia
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Cinephilia has recently experienced a powerful resurgence, one enabled by new media technologies of the digital revolution. One strong continuity between today's "new cinephilia" and the classical cinephilia of the 1950s is the robust sociability which these new technologies have facilitated. Each activity of today's cinephilic practice – viewing, thinking, reading and writing about films – is marked by an unprecedented amount of social interaction facilitated by the Internet. As with their classical counterparts, the thoughts and writings of today's cinephiles are born from a vigorous and broad-ranging cinephilic conversation. Further, by dramatically lowering the economic barriers to publication, the Internet has also made possible new hybrid forms and outlets of cinephilic writing that draw freely from scholarly, journalistic and literary models. This book both describes and theorises how and where cinephilia lives and thrives today. In this expanded second edition, the author revisits some of his original ideas and calls into question the focus in cinephilia on the male canon in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the lack of racial and gender diversity in contemporary cinema. "There is more to the cinephile experience than simply surfing from one link to another in a state of perpetual motion. How does this movement – this daily proliferation of encounters – power one's cinephilia? What special affective charge does this experience hold? In other words, how is the experience of the Internet cinephile affectively different from that of a 'traditional' cinephile who spends little time online?" — Girish Shambu

The New Cinephilia 5 Coda: Five Years Later 69 Time's Up for the Male Canon 71 For a New Cinephilia 79



Publié par
Date de parution 08 juin 2020
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781927852323
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0900€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Second expanded edition
© copyright 2014, 2020 Girish Shambu ISBN 978-1-927852-32-3
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the express written permission of the publisher, which holds exclusive publication rights, except for the texts ‘Times Up for the Male Canon’ and ‘For a New Cinephila’.
The New Cinephelia is part of the caboose essay series Kino-Agora
Published by caboose,
Designed by Marina Uzunova and Timothy Barnard. Set in Cala type, designed by Dieter Hofrichter, by Marina Uzunova.
The New Cinephilia
Coda: Five Years Later
Time’s Up for the Male Canon
For a New Cinephilia
The New Cinephilia
For Tanya
A New Kind of Love
To begin: the story of an elegy for something taken to be dead, something still breathing, still living. In 1996 , Susan Sontag wrote an infamous article in the New York Times Magazine called ‘The Decay of Cinema’. 1 In it she lamented that cinema had been reduced to ‘assaultive images’ and fast cutting, unworthy of demanding one’s attention. But the decline of cinema was not Sontag’s only controversial claim. She announced, further, the death of cinephilia. For Sontag, cinephilia meant two things that went hand in hand: the love of a specific kind of cinema; and participation in a specific kind of viewing ritual. The kind of cinema Sontag generally favoured was modernist, challenging and frequently (though not always) European. And the ritual of viewing she deemed integral to cinephilia took place in front of a big screen in a darkened theatre. ‘The conditions of paying attention in a domestic space’, she wrote, ‘are radically disrespectful of film’. 2 I draw attention to the specificity of Sontag’s cinephilia in order to situate it as non-universal, to tie it to a certain time and place, to de-naturalise it. Doing so will allow us to keep in mind that, just as there have been many ‘cinemas’ over the course of the history of the medium, there have also been many ‘cinephilias’. Sontag herself gestures towards this truth in the closing line of her essay, in which she calls for ‘the birth of a new kind of cine-love’.
In 1995 , the y e ar before Sontag’s piece app e ared, two significant events occurred, with lasting worldwide consequences. First, the Internet, which was created and developed by U.S. government agencies, moved to a new architecture and was freed from several restrictions formerly placed upon it. 3 The foundation was thus laid for the hyper-accelerated expansion of the Internet that continues to the present day. Second, a new invention made its appearance—the DVD —putting new capabilities in the hands of film viewers, such as random access and clear freeze-framing, while providing a leap in image/sound quality.
This book’s subject is the ‘new cinephilia’ of today, enabled by new media technologies of the digital revolution and the Internet. In comparison to Sontag’s, this is a more expansive cinephilia: it includes the ‘art cinema’ that was primarily her taste but also many other kinds of cinema, and it includes the traditional theatrical view ing experience of the era she mourned but also many other kinds of viewing situations. Further, it is an internationalist cinephilia, not just in terms of the films but, equally important, in terms of the cinephiles themselves.
The Sociability of Cinephilia
Cinephilia, as we know, is not simply an interest in cinema or even a propensity to see a great number of movies. These are necessary but not sufficient conditions for cinephilia. Not only watching but also thinking, reading, talking and writing about cinema in some form, no matter how unconventional: these activities are important to the cinephile. In other words, cinephilia involves an active interest in the discourse surrounding films.
In the last de c ade and a half, a great number of cinephiles around the world have turned to the Internet to gain access to and participate in movie discourse. In Sontag’s essay she expressed a despondency about young people and film culture: ‘[Y]ou hardly find anymore, at least among the young, the distinctive cinephilic love of movies that is not simply love of but a certain taste in films (grounded in a vast appetite for seeing and re-seeing as much as possible of cinema’s glorious past).’ 4 But today we see proof of the existence of these young, globally dispersed cinephiles who frequently possess a wide- ranging taste in cinema that spans multiple genres, nationalities and periods. We encounter them daily on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online magazines and journals and other websites. 5
It is well known that today’s Internet cinephilia constitutes a sea change from older forms of cinephilic practice. Where and how are films viewed, discussed and written about today? The answers to these questions differ markedly from a few decades ago. Work on twenty-first-century cinephilia has tended to emphasise its unique ness and novelty, paying special attention to what distinguishes and separates present-day cinephilic practices from older ones.
But I am also struck by a certain powerful continuity between new cinephilia and the classical cinephilia that blossomed in France in the 1940 s and 1950 s. Specifically, this continuity has to do with the centrality of the role of conversation in cinephilic life: how to initiate it, cultivate it, practise it in many forms both spoken and written, and sustain it by constructing institutional structures such as clubs, organisations, journals, magazines and communities.
Dudley Andrew’s biography of André Bazin paints a fascinat ing picture of French film culture in Bazin’s time. 6 Bazin was part of a surge in ciné-clubs in that age; he ran several of them as a youth, expressing a desire to blend the two great interests of his life, teaching and cinema. Later, his ambitions grew and he began bringing these clubs into ‘factories, farming communities, labour unions and literary societies’. 7
Bazin proceeded to found ciné-clubs in Paris, throughout France and even Europe in the late 1940 s while writing for five or six outlets at the same time on a regular basis. It is clear from Andrew’s account that Bazin, teacher though he was, did not merely ‘lecture’ to his audiences but instead brought them into a dialogue around cinema. Andrew evokes a striking image of Bazin seeking debate and ‘defending to the limit some obscure or unpopular film, while being attacked by outraged workers and precocious students’. 8 What is notable here is the fact that Bazin, clearly an expert who had written and thought deeply about the cinema at this time, would both try to multiply the kinds of audiences to which he showed films and also use the occasion of each screening to initiate and catalyse conversations among ‘amateurs’ about cinema. And rather than being the exception, it appears that such post-screening conversations in ciné-clubs were the norm.
There are at least two other occasions for conversation that appear to have been critical for Bazin and, by extension, the film culture of the period. One of them was formal and the other informal. First, Bazin’s writings, which appeared in several publications on a regular basis, were remarkably open to the broader currents of thought and criticism circulating at the time. It was common for writings on cinema during this period not simply to be content with reviewing films but to be involved in a larger project of dialogue and debate among writers on subjects related to the cinema and beyond. This conversation was conducted from week to week in public view. Second, the culture of cinema organisations such as magazines and journals was such that it encouraged and thrived on informal conversations in offices (not to mention cafés). Andrew conveys here the texture of the cinephilic everyday, one in which conversation played a crucial part:
No one could walk by Bazin’s office [at Travail et Culture ] without commenting on last night’s film or demanding that Bazin bring back an old favourite. Frequently an argument would develop and half the morning would be lost comparing the virtues of theatre and film or the importance for film of the commedia dell’arte tradition or of the guignol . . . . [Bazin] seemed capable of juggling an infinite number of activities. Scribbling a film review or a major article at his desk while others stood around the office arguing or talking, he would suddenly turn and join the discussion. Most often the office was still full at 7:30 p.m. when it was time to eat and escort a film to some auditorium. 9
Fast-forward a few decades to the late 1990 s and we witness the appearance of a key text for new cinephilia: the Movie Mutations letters initiated and compiled by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Adrian Martin. 10 What is striking about these letters is not only that they take up, for the first time in a sustained manner, the conditions and concerns of an emergent new cinephilia. They also use a specific mode of discourse—that of conversation—which looks ahead to the way cinephiles and critics will engage with cinema on the Internet.
The letters project owed its origins to the fact that Rosenbaum, for whom the films of the French New Wave were a formative cinephilic experience, was struck by the unconscious global simul taneity of a shared taste and sensibility in several cinephile critics of a younger generation. These cinephiles were all born around 1960 , but lived in different parts of the world. 11 The letters use this conver gence as a starting point for discussion, and then proceed to identify the various ‘mutations’ that are in the process of transforming film, film culture, technology and cinephilia in the conc

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