In nuclear physics a half-life is the period it takes for radioactivity to decay by half. Depending on the particular item, this might be in the nano-second realm or on the flip side it might be in the geological-eons realm.
The other day a close friend sent me a little something he’d bumped into on the net – on Blockbusters. I virtually never watch films except in the line of duty, and I have never used Blockbusters (nor Netflix nor Mubi nor….) so it’s rather unlikely I would have come across this:
My friend noted this was a nice summary; I noted that it presumes I dropped dead somewhere around 1993, or at least in vanishing to Europe I’d stopped making films. And it’s not only Blockbuster’s cut’n paste editing (as most the above can be lifted from various sites and regurgitated with a word or two shifted) which has done this, but in general it seems I’ve been relegated to “non-person” status, as in the old USSR. Despite showing up somewhat regularly at festivals (Rotterdam, Venice, Jeonju, Yamagata, in the last decade and more, if not at many American ones – not that I didn’t send them to appropriate places, just they said nyet), it seems I’ve been “disappeared” by the American cultural apparatus, never mind the numerical reality that in the years since 1993, when I dropped off the radar, I’ve made more films than in the 20 years noted above. And films which are, shall we say, even more innovative blah blah blah than those mentioned, and certainly in my view just as good or even better than those of the previous two decades. Whether it was my early shift to digital video (well before the tsunami that followed and mostly uses it as a cheap substitute for film rather than for its own qualities), or my on-going political stance, or that I failed to morph into a kind of American Euro-art house director, which it seems to me those in the business sort of wished for, or because I have spoken publicly about certain dubious things of the middling artsy part of the film industry (and scathingly of the commercial sector), I don’t really know. My guess is it’s been a mix of these, with perhaps some personal axes being distantly ground. And then as well there was a major cultural shift of another kind, in which we are now fully enmeshed.
But, fact is, I didn’t disappear just yet, and haven’t been exactly unproductive – here’s what I did in the years since 1993 – these are all from 65 to 112 minutes long each:
And then some hours of short films.
I’d be the first to admit that most of these films don’t meet the current dominant sense of value – i.e., that they either cost a lot to make or they made a lot of money, or preferably both. For some decades our national (and global) sense of values has been increasingly bent by the Free Market mantra, and step-by-step the talk of money has overtaken all other possible values. We have seen it in the Supreme Court decision in Citizens vs United (and we see the consequences of that in the current primary election, in its deluge of lying vulgarity funded by superPACS). We have seen it in the delimiting of “reviews” from newspapers or others being restricted to only those things given a “commercial” release, as occurred just the other day with the shift in Oscar rules for documentaries. A few decades ago, had I gone to New York to show a film in one of the few venues possible (MoMA, perhaps the Whitney, Millennium or Anthology) I might have counted on a review in the NY Times, the Village Voice, and a few other alternative papers or even mainstream ones. Today, if I can get a screening at all, it is almost assured there will be no review. And why? Because the work lacks artistic or creative merit? No, because it lacks financial value and validation. And therefore, socially and culturally, it more or less does not, and is not allowed to, exist. To exist would in effect be an affront to the wonderful values of the supposed Free Market Economy. If it doesn’t make money – more the merrier – it is not supposed to exist. Just like poor people. Or old people. Or…
While I don’t feel quite as banged up as this geezer doubtless did – as I begin to pop at the seams with a hernia bulge on the left which while not (yet) hurting still says “get it done soon,” and some kind of torn muscle tissue over on the right hand side where I had a hernia patch done 10 years ago and that I’d hoped would kindly heal itself but instead seems to be getting if anything a touch worse – I do feel the wave of time washing over, and the imminent descent into decrepitude. Frankly I am not much thrilled by the idea, though as my father lived to 98 – he died three weeks or so ago, on Dec. 28 – the reality threatens. Meantime I am mired for the moment in deadlines for more films for no one, packing to take a long American journey to make still more films for no one, and perhaps I question my sanity.
For more information on the films above, and the 14 celluloid ones, see
There’s a few new ones almost ready (except for a major computer crash the last 3 days, which normally I can solve but not this time it seems.) Which, along with other pressures perhaps accounts for the glum air of the moment.