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In today’s New York Times was a little article on Chinese independent filmmakers, springing of the screening of one at the New York Film Festival, Ghost Town by Zhao Dayong.   In it was a little quote which struck a chord in me, and wrote still another Letter to the Editor Sure Not to Be Published:

Sirs:
As a long-time (45+ years) American “independent”  filmmaker, this quote from an article in the NY Times, rang a dissonant bell:

““I feel very frustrated,” Mr. Zhao said. “I’m a Chinese filmmaker, and of course my audience should be the Chinese people, especially since my films are about ordinary working Chinese people.” He added, “That would be more valuable than winning an international film festival.”

As an American – and hardly the only one – I could easily say the same thing, though the politics are different, the effect is the same. In our country the Glorious Market Economy mantra is the shibboleth which dictates what is to be seen or not, as effectively as the Chinese Communist  Party does there.  The end result is the same.  I’ve won my bit of international festival la dee da, but the films remain mostly unseen.  A long list of my peers could say the same.

Sincerely
Jon Jost

The long list could include quite a number of accessible “realists” like Lance Hammer, Eagle Pennell, on back to John Cassavetes or even before.  It could include more experimental real Americans like James Benning.  It could include me.  We don’t need a heavy-handed Chinese Communist Party censorship board to quash us, we have the wonderful make-the-maximum-buck-whatever-the-cost free-wheeling American capitalist system to do the job.  You aren’t interested in making the most money, then go f..k yourself.  This applies to artisans making the things, to distributors to exhibitors, who, if they aren’t aiming for the lowest-common-denominator maxi-dollar deal, are in for an early demise.  Ask Dan Ladely out in Nebraska at the Ross Cinema, under the gun of budget cuts, or ask the myriad small distributors who’ve bitten the dust in the last decade.  Or the theaters that closed.

By way of a minimal compensation for this grave distortion in our communal values, the MacArthur Foundation offers up 25 half-million buck grants each year, to a variety of people, including artists and scientists and writers and others most of whom you probably never heard of before.  Hopefully the big bucks don’t warp them, and they keep on truckin’ doing whatever they were doing.  Given the choices I’d guess that’d be the case.

And then another brief item in the New York Times, conflicting with another a few days ago which gave a number about 100 less, is this

Names of the Dead

Published: September 28, 2009

The Department of Defense has identified 840 American service members who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations. It confirmed the death of the following American on Monday:

GRAHAM, Kevin J., 27, Specialist, Army; Benton, Ky.; Second Infantry Division.

24military.span.600

27military.span.600 (2)Our guys in Afghanistan winning hearts and minds

Long way from Kansas or Kentucky…  Pressured by his generals, armchair strategists, blow-hard “patriots” and snookered circumstances, Obama is weighing the scales on this one – to stay, to leave, to stay and leave or…

Meanwhile our little orb keeps telling us a few things, probably things we’d rather not be hearing:

antarctic and greenland meltingIce loss in Antarctic600-sydney-span1Sydney Opera House this Spring (now)balad base iraqRoughing it at Balad Base, Iraqdisneyland dioramaOriginal Mock-up model for Disneyland

And to put it all in a little perspective

raptor rex

30064640

On the other hand, somethings never change, though since the experiment about internet search mechanisms was done, CE gets a lot more hits, and increasingly of this kind – more porn poetry from the search engines:

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4 Comments

    • Predrag Kovacevic
    • Posted September 30, 2009 at 9:58 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Jon,
    Thank you very much for te DVDs. I’ve gotten them today. I have already watched Six Easy Pieces, and I will show my students the piece about Borromini and Bernini.
    I love the way the light shaft appears at the end of the Portuguese section (I think Kouristami would like that too, and I’m refering here to his Five for Ozu), and then the sequence with the two women in the pool, not so much because of the exchage between them, but for its visual splendor. The part with the highway ride towards Rome was also very nice.
    I will send you money for the videos
    on Friday. Thanks again!
    Predrag

    • Hi
      Send to the Neb bank. If u need address etc let me know. best

  1. Hi Glad they got there OK. I sent Nebraska Bank address etc yes? Hwy ride is up near Trieste to Venice – fabled fogs. Glad u like. Let me know about other one too. best jon

  2. Actually, it doen’t appear you did. I checked the envelope, but there is nothing there, so if would you send it, I’d appreciate it. My plan was to send an International Money Order to your school address, but this will work too.
    I took a quick look at several scenes from Over Here, and visualy it is quite impressive, and I’m going to look at it this weekend without hurry.
    Tx,
    Predrag


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