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As the matter of income disparity sweeps not only the US, but the world, I post here a nice, concise little film, made by James Schamus, film producer, professor at Columbia University, and general real smart guy.  His heart is also in the right place.

 

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Interview with James

While most people seem to think money is something real, it is in fact merely a social construct, an abstract device to make exchanging things more easily done than physical barter.  Being abstract though, it opens a vast loop-hole into which many a con-man has walked, from the shark on the street corner, on up to the CEO of our biggest “most respected” banks.  James explains in his film some of this, and if you read between the lines just a bit, you can see the way this all works.    And you can see that your “trust” is woefully misplaced.

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 DSC01741MAS01reg__23758_zoomWhen the bottom of this vast scam drops out, and you are penniless, and suddenly “the economy” doesn’t work, and the militarized police force is brought in to suppress you, just don’t be surprised.  The writing was on the wall, clear as day.  Just as with the consequences of human-induced global warming.  The Piper is here.

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Momentarily (en)lightened in Spain, thanks to an early morning hit-the-groggy-white-haired-old-guy robbery in the Sants train station in Barcelona, I will shortly be heading westward to the East Coast,  NYC to be precise.  This minus a NEX 7 camera, some very nice lenses, my Toshiba laptop, and a mess of cash, all errantly kept together under the logic that if I had all the important things together Alz brain would not forget them.  I didn’t forget them, but the sleight of hand happened literally in front of me and I didn’t catch it until a bit too late.  Minus $6K or so in things and cash, not to mention headaches of computer info losses.  Live and learn. Getting kind of late for that!

At all events, I will be in NYC come Jan 16, with a screening of Coming to Terms at the Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria – 2 p.m., Jan. 18.   See this for more info.

I’ll be out East until sometime in late February, with a classroom something lined up in Syracuse, NY, for February 2.  If you happen to be connected to a school, or anything, that could do a screening, classroom gig or workshop, for pay, it’d help me recoup the fun in Barcelona.  If so, contact me a.s.a.p. to see if we can arrange something.  Thanks.

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Jon and cousin David, a long time ago

Currently having an exhibition here in Nijar and Almeria, Spain, of watercolors, pastels, and video things.  Which, after a US jaunt in the past Autumn has left me pondering whether it makes any sense to continue working in film.  There is no audience left, it seems, as the world has shifted with the ideological winds and pure commercialism is totally triumphant.  If it doesn’t make money, and lots of it, it is in the present world literally “worthless.”  Not that what I did in my life was ever worth very much in the eyes of the world, but now it is clearly deemed worthless, in the crude sense of the financial system which governs our societies.  And, unwilling to properly bend to the dictates of the market, as they say, persisting in what I do seems ever more senseless.  Time to hang up the spurs?  Currently writing on this for www.acinemafornone.wordpress.com.

JON A

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the end

Maybe…

Originally posted on Collapse of Industrial Civilization:

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From the acidified and plasticized oceans to the greenhouse gas-polluted atmosphere to the radioactive and heavy metal-contaminated soils, the Anthropocene Epoch will leave behind a planet radically altered in its atmospheric and biospheric chemistry. This disruption, unprecedented in geologic time for its rapidity and wide-scale destruction, is already too severe for the complex web of life that had evolved under earth’s previous life-sustaining homeostatic system. As Brian Moss (et al.) wrote in Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Ecosystems, “The chemistry of the biosphere is the ultimate sine qua non of our existence.”:

It is expected that we will have lost over half the world’s land ecosystems to agriculture or development by 2050. The urbanites may not be noticing this but the consequences will nonetheless be huge, for it is these natural ecosystems that regulate the nature of the biosphere. We have absolutely no idea how much of them can be damaged…

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COMING TO TERMS BASIC EDIT_18sm

 

In the coming 2 months I’ll be having screenings of Coming to Terms as follows:

October 14

Salt Lake Film Society

FILMMAKER EVENT

TUES 10/14/14 @ 7PM
Broadway Centre Theatre
111 East 300 South
Salt Lake City UT 84111

And then, in Tempe AZ, a class screening but open to public, at Arizona State University.  Limited – around 30 – seats available for non-class members.  It’ll include a lot of talk, and maybe screening some other things to go with it.  The next day will be an all-day workshop, which might be open to a handful of outsiders.

October 17-18

6:00 – 10:00 PM on 10/17 – the location is Stauffer B111, which is adjacent to the 10th Street Parking Structure. (Guests can’t park in that actual structure – they can park across the street – but that is the lot closest to the Stauffer building). Link to that building on the ASU map:

https://maps.asu.edu/?id=120&mrkIid=63016

And then, moving eastward into New Mexico, there’ll be this (don’t know time yet):

October 23rd

Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts

1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505

This screening will be introduced by Gene Youngblood (Expanded Cinema) and he’ll moderate post-screening session.

And after wandering the southwest and mid-west a few weeks shooting for new film (and I hope drawing and doing watercolors and of course lots of photography), I’ll land in Lincoln Nebraska where there’ll be a partial retrospective at the Ross Media Arts Center.  Films being screened on an on-going cycle from Nov 7-14, will be as follows:

Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center  |  313 North 13th Street, Lincoln NE

Friday, 11/7 – Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977) *interview with Bill and Jon

Saturday, 11/8 – Slow Moves (1983)

Sunday, 11/9 – Rembrandt Laughing (1989)

Monday, 11/10 – Oui Non (2002)

Tuesday, 11/11 – Passages (2006) / Parable (2008)

Wednesday, 11/12 – At Play in the Fields of the Lord [Nebraska] (2008) / Swimming in Nebraska (2010)

Thursday, 11/13 — Imagens de uma cidade perdida (2011)

Friday, 11/14 – Coming to Terms (2013)

There may also be sneak preview of a new film of mine, and perhaps a screening of Blake Eckard’s Ghosts of Empire Prairie, in which I acted and also shot the film.  The films will all be screened at least twice, during the week.

And then moving east, might be something at the Orpheum Cinema in Fairfield IO and/or in Iowa City.  Not yet fixed.

And finally, in Chicago:

22nd and 25th, at the Film Center, 8 pm.

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I note also that Coming to Terms will be screening at the American Film Festival, in Wroclaw, Poland, towards the end of this month.  The festival is Oct. 21-26.

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Two years ago, today, Mark Rappaport sent out a letter to a modest swath of the independent film community, mostly in America.  In that letter (see https://cinemaelectronica.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/chained-relations/) Mark told of a long unhappy story of his involvement with Professor Raymond Carney, tenured at Boston University.   I will not repeat that but refer you to the sequence of posts which I wrote and published here, under the title Chained Relations.  There are 10 of those, and a few others on the same matter – if you wish to know the entire dismal story they are there for your delectation.

I write this final notice to update you on how things stand.

Despite a petition organized by Daniel Levine, and signed by well over 1000 persons, many of them names in the film world, Professor Carney has remained adamant, and continues to hold Mark Rappaport’s property, below:

 

Rappaport's materials in Carney's lawyer's office.

Mark has in effect resigned himself to this reality, and is proceeding to have his work digitized, paying for it himself, with the help of the Cinematheque Francais in the form of their discount on lab costs.   Mark will be able to do this for Impostors, and then for financial reasons will have to stop.   Professor Carney remains in possession of the shown prints, some originals, one-inch video tapes which could be used to digitize those films, and papers, and clearly has no intention of returning them.  They were, so he says, “gifted” to him (a disputed claim he also made regarding John Cassavetes material), despite Mark’s statement that they were not, and that Mr Carney has nothing tangible on paper to suggest otherwise.    Nor, so it appears, does Boston University intend to rescind Carney’s tenure and send him packing.

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While in seeming hiding, the Professor does maintain a blog in which he excoriates BU, (http://insidebostonuniversity.blogspot.co.il/2014/06/ten-years-at-boston-universitya-timeline.html), and in his most recent posting there he advises he is buried in writing his opus on Robert Bresson (“… which is in something like the eighth or ninth draft, pushing 180,000 words—don’t laugh!—…”), and says to a writer, “P.S. Keep telling the truth. It matters.”   To me it is rather ironic that the Professor is writing about that most moral of filmmakers, and that his advice is “keep telling the truth,” though he himself is immoral and unable to face his own truth – that he is a conniving, argumentative, long-winded and utterly dishonest person.  Don’t take my word for it; wade through the mountains of verbiage Mr. Carney spews out to the point of being unreadable.

Ray CarneyProfessor Carney of BU some years ago

And that, sadly, is the situation regarding Mr. Carney and Mark Rappaport, whom the Professor has claimed to be one of the most important filmmakers on the planet.   My personal view is that Professor Carney is paranoid and mentally ill, as his shrill writings would suggest, and that it would be advisable for anyone to steer wide and clear of him.   Sociopaths such as he is are natural born liars.  Mostly to themselves, but also to any audience they can gather.

 

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On a happier note, Mark has available, on-line at Amazon, four books:

 

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If there’s any angels out there in the film-world who would care to help in getting Mark Rappaport’s work properly digitized so it can be shown on-screen or streamed, please contact me.  clarandjon@msn.com

 

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20140814-MISSOURI-HP-slide-LJII-superJumboFerguson, Missouri, 2014

 

In our supposed “post-racial” America, where the election of a biologically 50% black man to the office of President has loosed, under an imaginary mask, the livid bigotry which animates our culture to its core, reality has once again reared, visibly, its ugly head.  It exists all day, every day, in the most mundane and common of ways, with the on-going, never-ending oppression of dark-skinned people – economic ghettoization, cultural hypocrisy, profiled policing, a constant onslaught of prejudice fashioned as policy: where you can live, how you can live, if you can live.  The statistics of black life in America (and as well others – Native American, hispanic) are appalling, as are the simple human realities.  America has pretended to have dealt with this, but it never did.  A tiny minority of millionaire sports and show-biz “successes” have been used as a veneer to cover the daily offense which America at large heaps on people with the “wrong” color.    In Ferguson, Missouri, this disease has exposed itself yet again, with a nearly all-white police force, now armed with tools for military actions, carrying out the underlying policies of oppression which our culture enforces other ways every day, all day.   Living while black, a capital crime in America, most often kept conveniently hidden, and periodically erupting to the “surprised” populace of the non-black (or Native American, or hispanic or others) for whom everyday America is a perpetual enemy.

When will it change?  Probably never.  A dishonest, self-deluded people cannot change what they refuse to acknowledge as a problem.  That’s US(A).

 

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Addendum, August 16, 2014. 

The situation in Ferguson has wobbled, tensions heightened by an inept town police captain who released the surveillance video of Michael Brown, the unarmed now-dead young man gunned down by a police officer for walking in the middle of a residential road, against the request of Federal authorities after a day of relative calm.  This was followed by a day of rioting and looting.  A curfew has now been imposed, and tensions are once again very high.  Comments in a New York Times article on the matter received responses such as this, which were heavily approved by the enlightened Times readers:

DS
NYC 10 hours ago
I grew up poor. I never shoplifted, I never punched out a store owner. I never made excuses. I worked. I worked two jobs, three jobs, I didn’t stand on the street and yell about my rights being violated. I worked, I learned to speak proper English and read until I was literate. I feel for Mr. Brown’s family, but he was not just getting ready for college, he was breaking the law and getting ready for jail. And a community that protests with violence is no less different than a community that fails to denounce terrorism as means to attract support for their cause. This country has become a country of causes and we wonder why we are polarized. Go to work, organize, and stop breaking windows and stealing, if you want to be recognized as a viable alternative. Stop whining and throwing rocks, do something constructive.

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RS
Philly 10 hours ago
Judging from the casual and menacing way Brown strong armed the poor store clerk as he robbed him, I have to believe that it was not the first time. Not exactly the sweet and gentle child he’s been portrayed to be. The police account that Brown scuffled with the police officer and lunged for his gun is completely believeable. By the way, one of the so called witnesses supporting Brown was his partner in crime in the convenience store robbery. So much for that.
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redstorm
Home 10 hours ago
Michael Brown looks like a thief and a bully. I believe there are two sides to this story and the officer should not get railroad to satisfy local dissatisfaction with the handling of this death. The police officer went 6 years without firing his weapon at anyone – I don’t think he randomly shot Mr. Brown. Also, I believe Mr. Brown’s behavior in the 15 minutes leading up to his death is extremely relevant and the police had every right to release it.

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And so on. (I note that DS from New York, while noting that they “grew up poor” doesn’t mention which skin-tone they have.)
Far down on the list came these:
MetroJournalist
is a trusted commenter NY Metro Area 10 hours ago

Yes, shoplifting is a robbery, but the reaction to it was disproportionate. Meanwhile, Wall Street gangsters got a way with tons of money and not one of them was arrested, let alone shot, and no armored vehicles were brought in. Just sayin’.

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Fiona
New York 6 hours ago

It would be very convenient and perhaps comforting if we could blame the events of Ferguson on a) a bullying thug, b) a racist or perhaps scared police officer, c) an apparently witless police chief, or d) outside agitators determined to loot and create mayhem. By picking one of these, we can dismiss the fundamental problems that the events of Ferguson have revealed, yet again.

We have a vastly unequal society, whether one considers results or opportunity. Racism still thrives in the United States, and is sometimes still fatal. We are deeply divided in countless other ways as well. Our justice system and our system of policing ourselves is severely flawed. We spend more time, energy, and money punishing, denying, and excluding than we do in providing hope and opportunity. A large portion of our citizens do not feel that their government is responsive to their ideas, needs, or wishes, and feel that it no longer represents them. I am sure that others could add to this list. What Ferguson makes clear is that we have a lot of work to do if we wish to live up to our own espoused ideals, and we had best stop blaming someone else and roll up our sleeves.
147Recommended

I replied to this last with:
Yes, the fundamental “problems” of America will once again be conveniently swept under the rug: racism (from the beginning), economic disparity (from the beginning); denial of our communal behavior (genocide against Indians; slavery and its aftermath); militarism (America’s answer to almost everything); that 5% of the world’s population, the USA, consumes (by strong arming and military conquest, and economic extortion) 25% of the world’s resources; etc. etc.. Nope, we’re not gonna talk about that.

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Following the confessions of Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, and of James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, that they had, uh, misspoke, uh, lied, committed perjury and little things like that in testimony before the US Congress, comes the hardly surprising mea culpa of John O. Brennan, that he too had in such testimony, done the dirty deed.  This triumverate of the nation’s security apparatus each and every one committed a Federal crime, a felony, when, after raising their right hands and swearing “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth” they proceeded to tell falsehoods, prevaricated, mislead or otherwise lied before Congress.  The proper legal procedure for such behavior in our supposed system, would be for these people to be charged with a serious crime, be tried, and since they have more or less admitted to their crime, be convicted and sent off to a Club Fed, there to ponder their misdeeds and be “rehabilitated.”

However this is the United States of America, in the year 2014, and while elements of the lumpen proletariat (rednecks, white-trash, discolored folks of all tonalities, the economically poor and educationally disadvantaged) can be tossed for life in jail for 3 very minor transgressions of the law (like smoking a joint) under the Three Strikes & You’re Out laws which exist in many states, those on the other end of the social spectrum, have been issued a permanent Get Out of Jail Free card.   And indeed, just a day ago, our President, the famous Kenyan, declared his full confidence and trust in Mr. Brennan, and his actions with regard to the others indicates the same view of them.   While it would be sort of comforting to imagine that the roll-over-&-play-dead response to these professional snoops and liars is owing to the doubtless endless dirt they have on all our honorable politicians, I am inclined to think it is because Mr. Obama, and more or less anyone down the pecking order of our government are all essentially in support of the crimes these folks committed which caused them to commit the crime of lying about it all.  The entire cesspool of our political system is in on it all.

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At the present moment – though moves seem afoot to alter this modestly – the United States, constituting about 5% of the world’s population, houses some 25% of its prisoners.  I suppose it is no irony that the same approximate figure applies to the nation’s share of global resource use: we’re 5% of the global pop, and we gobble up 25% of the world’s resources.   Hmmm…    Need I note that the disproportion of our consumption of global wealth is rooted in what many in the world regard as great crimes.  Recall the adage:  “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.”

So perhaps it is only natural that we have evolved into a condition in which the greatest crimes – war crimes, financial crimes, or little Constitutional crimes (after all, the Constitution is, as famously described by our previous President, “just a goddam piece of paper”) such as, uh, lying to Congress in sworn testimony, are all quickly dismissed and forgotten. (Recall also the willfully unsworn testimony of the tandem duo of Bush & Cheney in the commission on 9/11?)   So in the new 21st Century America, criminality has become the norm, acts just too big for our little 20th century minds to embrace.   Criminality like letting the 9/11 attack occur since it had certain political advantages in the minds of a cluster of people who just happened to be in the government at the time.  People who had called for just such an incident, publicly, in their 1998 Project for the New American Century announcement, which they removed from the net after 9/11 and it was noted by many.

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So, lying has become – as perhaps it always was – our political and social norm.   The news is full of stories of corruption, though usually this isn’t the word applied, which itself is a kind of corruption: refusal to call things what they are.  Lies are lies; cheating is cheating; war crimes are war crimes.  But for some time now our society was wormed away from such a view:  torture is “enhanced interrogation,” war crimes are “we are not going to look back; we are going to look forward;” trillion dollar financial scams built on fraudulent loans and sliced and diced “derivatives” are called “too big to fail.”  And the higher one is in the hierarchy of power and control, the more protected one is from failure, indeed, failure becomes a mark for advancement.  Failing upwards signals total acceptance and complicity in a thoroughly corrupt system.  And so, in the current case, for sure to be forgotten tomorrow, as the rush of today’s hyper-kinetic news smears collective memory and leaves it roadkill, a thin plasma squashed against the windshield of a hystrionic now, Mr. Brennan, having said his “Gee, I’m sorry I lied to you Senators” will retreat into the black hole of our vast “security” apparatus and carry on, as have his partners in crime, General Alexander and Mr. Clapper.  Federal felonies simply don’t matter if you are high enough on the pyramid of power in the USA.  For taking your part in the vast system of corruption, you will be rewarded.  It rather reminds of the old USSR in its terminal days.

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How swiftly does time go these days?  A mere six months ago the world was enthralled with the Sochi Winter Olympics, thought to be a triumph for Vladimir Putin; a month later Russia seized the Crimea; Malaysian flight 370 went missing and remains “a mystery.”  The World Cup came and went; Malaysian flight 17 went down over the Ukraine; Israel invaded Gaza; 50,000 kids from Central America showed up at the US border (owing to things America imposed on their native countries); the Ebola virus returned – the adrenalin race of events finally exhausts, and leaves a vacuum into which the worst is drawn.

Open Carry March on March 12, 2014

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Open carry gun supporters; if you ask their politics it is very likely to run to the right: American “militia” or maybe Brownshirts.

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The private military-style contractors, Craft International, at the Boston Marathon, whom no one says were hired for anything there, though there they were, “helping” the FBI, and then vanishing.  They carried black back-packs of a kind looking just like the one which the FBI alleges held one of the bombs.  The balance of the Marathon story is so full of fishy things one must wonder.

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Last night was the screening of Coming to Terms here in Berlin, at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.   Was a decently sized audience, and a very very positive response to the film.  Back when I lived here in the late 70’s, this structure – a modernist swooping concrete American gift to Berlin, ironically collapsed, and was rebuilt, hopefully with both design and construction improvements.  The setting in which it sits, along the Spree River, is now utterly transformed, as is the entire city.  The Wall is gone, the dingy grey world of East Berlin now glitters with new buildings and renovations of old ones, and it is as if a magic wand had waved, and everything seems completely reinvented.  Tourists swarm the city center, the old Reichstag building with its Foster cupola, beside it the new Federal governmental buildings, the Brandenburg gate and the totally revitalized Unter den Linden.   It is really another city, morphed from an isolated cell of the capitalist West nestled in the faltering collapse of the socialist East, into a humming magnet of late Euro-capitalism, a grand illusion awaiting the literal flood of the future – while at 114 feet above sea-level it is not at risk of inundation this century, in some more distant future, when and if all the world’s ice melts and the sea level rises to a projected 216 feet, well….

 

IMG_6023The HKW after its collapse; below with its architect.IMG_6024

800px-HdKdW1HKW rebuilt.

When I lived in Berlin – 1979-80, and later in 83-5 – the Wall, and the political and economic world it represented, was an active and vivid part of the psycho-social, and economic, landscape.  After I’d been there a brief while I concluded that it – a thin concrete veil maintained with armed and deadly force, and representing a very recent, short-term ideological squabble – would soon be gone.  It would be overcome by the far deeper historical roots of the culture it had temporarily bifurcated.  So I thought.  My Berliner friends were of a different mind, 100% sure it would remain there throughout their lifetimes and beyond.  It was, so they felt, a permanent fixture.  And they had a financial incentive too – as a glittering outpost of the West imbedded in the drab East, it was heavily subsidized, and housing and transportation and many other things were relatively cheap. And there was something romantic about being trapped there.  So until the day the wall was being chiseled down and Honeker threw in the towel as the Soviet empire dissolved in the fog of glasnost, they were sure it would remain.  Not many years later I visited the USSR for a few weeks, in the company of rosy-glassed British left-winger film people, and I drew the same conclusion regarding the Soviet Union – that it was due for imminent collapse.  My traveling companions thought this ridiculous, as did my friends in America, along with the CIA.  Nope, the great Soviet monolith was forever.  It formally collapsed in 1991.  So much for the permanence of things.  Of course in Germany I was in a country which had not much earlier seen itself as in the early stages of a Thousand Year Reich, and I am the child of a country which allows itself a starry-eyed “exceptionalism” and seems to have imagined until very recently that it was exempt from the lessons of history (or telling itself truthfully its own history.)

 

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As an habitual transient, even within my own country, I have over my life become a perpetual outsider.  In a manner it is a privileged position, allowing one to see past the curtains of ordinariness which those who live a stable life accommodate.  Inside such a life – one of a job, home, a circle of friends and associates, and social/economic conventions everyone accepts  –  the horizon of one’s experience leads to a kind of certitude:  the walls will never fall.   Whereas from my constantly shifting vantage point, nothing appears fixed and stable, and the givens of another’s  life seem not at all so firm.  Be it assumptions about a pension, about the economy running along just so, or whether a vaunted empire will last another 1000 years, or 10 days.  To most of my friends a life with a thorough-going absence of “security” seems an impossible nightmare, and they often wonder out loud to me just how I can do it.  But for me, since my life has repeatedly shown me that such certainties, small and huge, which they entertain, nearly always fall apart, it confers a kind of psychological protection:  I am not surprised when the rug zips out from underneath, and I haven’t really placed many bets on it not doing so.   For me, whatever happens happens, and I will cope with it rather than panic at seeing my word-view shattered.  For some people this seems cynical; to me it is just realism.

 

volkshalle_by_teslapunk-d340iupAlbert Speer’s design for the glorious 1000 year 3rd Reichimage4Berlin, not many years later, in 1945

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These days, crossing Germany, as in the United States, one can see vast wind farms, the pristine white blades turning slowly (harvesting among other things, birds and bats).  Germany is one of the European countries seriously attempting – or so it thinks – to Go Green.  Berlin is busy with bicycle lanes, mini-car rental shares, well-insulated buildings, and, at least within the context of modern capitalism, an effort to be more efficient, all in the name of concern for the environment.  Of course these quite “aware” consumers of the feel-good ideology of “doing their part” to keep the coming flood at bay, hardly think twice when it is time to pop into an EasyJet or AirBerlin flight and run off to Majorca or Bangkok, nor do they really understand their massively mis-proportioned draw on the world’s material assets.  Of course they can always point to the United States, and say how its “carbon footprint” and consumption per capita is so much bigger.  And while the richest squabble over these matters, China, and, less successfully India, race to catch up – in exactly the same manner Europe and the United States did when they industrialized, spewing massive wastes and poisons into the environment.  Caught in the alluring material enticements of late-stage capitalism, all are too eager to have more.  Some “more” with a do-(feel)-good ecological bent, and some just plain old more.  Within the penumbra of the Capitalist Religion (one decisively demonstrated to be superior to Communism when the USSR collapsed), the concept of doing with less, a lot less, in the name of a future, is simply alien.  Nope, whatever the problems, the techies will figure it out, and we can continue to have more and more.  And we will have the Thousand Year Reign of Technofixes.

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Perhaps it is the extravagant history of Berlin which provokes such thoughts – to think that the culture that gave us Bach, Beethoven, and myriad other sublime cultural gifts, could have, in the same breath given us the mass frenzy which brought Mr Schickelgruber to power under his stage-name Hitler, and led this most sophisticated society over the cliff of the mass killing of Jews, gypsies, gays, and other suddenly (if also historically deep) anointed non-humans.  Under the sway of their Fuhrer Germany initiated the chain of events which led to the killing of over 72 million people in a single decade.  Towards the end of the war, German citizens mostly obeyed, as their whole world was pulverized before their eyes.  As they had done with the deportation of their neighbors, they firmly stuck their collective heads in the soft sands which Berlin is built upon.   And today, despite the best of liberal intentions  – the bicycle paths, the mini-cars, the farmers markets, the wind farms and all the rest – they are in deep delusion as the Spree slowly encroaches on this currently most civil city.

Flying here from Dusseldorf the view out the window looking down on the NordWest-Rhineland was of massive chimneys and cooling towers, (along with the windfarms) all the way to the horizon.  Germany’s economy is the best in Europe, and it is hurtling down the tracks to its own oblivion, with the rest of Europe looking enviously on.

 

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heideggerwalkinghispath

 

 

 

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Arrived back from more or less six months on the road, with a small bit having to do with film festivals, screenings and the other chores of the filmmaker life, and settled into my “home” in Butte, and began the final work on two new films – ones mostly shot last September, and November.  Features.  Both looking pretty good.

The trip involved a number of screenings, of older work and new.  For the most part the audiences were sparse, and talk with those showing them suggested this is now the norm.  To my glance the audiences were also generally rather older.  White hair or none.  None of this was a surprise for me – I’d been noticing this trend for a decade and more.  I have my thoughts on it, of course, and shortly I’ll be writing in more depth at http://www.jonjost.wordpress.com.

For the moment though, in anticipation of completing these new films (and proceeding on to the other 3 or 4 awaiting editing to completion, not to mention shooting some others and preparing others, along with the Mt. Everest of photography to tend to, painting when the weather shifts, and recording some music), I decided to go ahead and do something I’ve been considering for a while.  Today  wrote the following letter to the Locarno festival, and sent along the same to the Venice festival.

Hi

As a past guest of your festival – long ago in the 70’s, and more recently (!) with OUI/NON in 2003, I write to say a few things.

Having made films for now 51 years, and having watched with others the drastic changes in the world of cinema I have decided for myself a few things:

1. I will not fill out festival entry forms, pay entry fees, or other things time and energy consuming; I will  inform festivals of new work and if they wish to see it they can do so on-line (Vimeo with password), or pay for a DVD or preferably BluRay to be sent to see it properly.

2. As for the kind of work I do there is no longer even the hint of a “market” and festivals have become more or less the default “market,” when my work is shown I will need some kind of payment.  A ticket/hotel for some place I might want to go; or money.

I know this may sound arrogant or whatever you wish to call it.  So be it.

I am continuing to make work – by my estimation, and that of some others, certainly up with my best, and hopefully even better.  This year’s Coming to Terms is certainly one of my best. (Ask Mark Rappaport, or Jonathan Rosenbaum.)  Still I’ll be lucky if several thousand people, world-wide, ever see it.

I have two new films virtually finished:

BLUE STRAIT, likely around 80-85 minutes, about a middle-aged gay couple breaking up (though this is hardly a “story” film.)

GENTRY COUNTY STORIES, close to 90 minutes, an exploration in genre, literature, story-telling.

If you are interested in seeing, let me know.

Thank you

 

I have no idea how this will be received by the festivals – perhaps they will actually understand, and if not generally, then at least individually, make a change.  Or perhaps they will regard it as the whining of a disconsolate old filmmaker fallen from the day’s fashions.  Perhaps they’ll wonder why my secretary can’t do these things, not comprehending that I have no secretary and never did, and that the simple process of filling out ill-designed entry forms is far more hassle than they imagine.  Or myriad other things.  I’ll have to wait and see.

The simple reality from their side is that there are thousands of people willing to go through the hoops chancing for the brass ring, so if my little kvetch irritates them, it’s no problem for them.  From my side it is that whether my film (and I) go to a festival, it will make little difference in tangible terms – perhaps 50 or 500 people will see it; perhaps someone will write something about it.  But almost certain, in the tsunami of films cranked out these days, it will be swept away and out of view and consciousness in a matter of weeks or a month or two.  And I won’t accrue a penny.  There will be no “sale.”  At best I can scribble that the film showed in festival X.   For others it may be that the applause of an audience, or positive words from viewers provides “something” but in my case it really isn’t so.  I need no pats on the back or words of encouragement.  I need to make a very modest “living.”

 

GENTRY CO. .Still023Blake Eckard and Roxanne Rogers in Gentry County StoriesTHE TALK 2.Still001John Manno and Steve Taylor in Blue Strait

In the next week or so I hope to post a longer, more considered essay on where things seem to stand with regard to this kind of cinema in the current world, and whether there is any more seeming point to it at all.    As you can imagine, I have my doubts.

 

Sequence 01.Still007Frame from Canyon

 

Note:  I am in process of setting up a VOD Vimeo channel of my work.  Not being Hollywood or able to anticipate high numbers, my price is $10 to stream, $20 to download.  First one up is Angel City from 1976.   You can buy DVDs for $30+ shipping and processing by PayPal, and BluRay disks for more (I recommend for the HD films and a few others.)

[An update now on June 10 2104:  neither the Locarno festival, nor the Venice festival gave me any response to my letter.  In the case of Venice, I know its director, Alberto Barbera, personally, and addressed to him, along with his staff, my letter.  Whether this signals that my never-more-than-modest leverage with festivals is now in the minus range (some time ago I was instrumental in getting Joao Pedro Rodriguez’ film O Fantom into the Venice competition when Barbera was director earlier, in 2002 or so), or whether raising the topic of the, uh, well, exploitation of filmmakers in the name of “supporting” them was too hot a matter, or whether my missive was lost in the shuffle, I don’t know.  No information at all is not exactly a useful standpoint for speculation – I “know” only that neither festival sent me a word in response, which, at minimum in my view, was “rude.”]

UNIVERSAL FINAL (REVISED) 01 copy

On April 10, 2012, two years ago, Mark Rappaport called Ray Carney, tenured professor of Boston University, to ask in person what he’d requested earlier: that the materials he’d left in the US on moving to Paris, and which Carney had said he’d hold for him, be returned.   Carney didn’t answer the phone.  Not then, not later after repeated calls to various numbers over the next month.  In effect – while later giving many stories regarding his sudden inaccessibility – Professor Carney went into hiding.  Curiously it is the same time he ceased communicating with me, not long after I’d done him the favor of posting a long long “letter” regarding BU he’d asked me to print on one of my blogs.  For the full story see this, the first of a series of 10 blog posts covering this whole matter in detail, which I began after Mark had sent out an internet letter in August 2012 explaining his situation.

 

dblcarneyProfessor Raymond Carney, tenured at Boston University

Now, following all this, following a petition signed by some 1200 people, including some significant “names” in the film biz, I sadly have to report that Professor Carney still stays in effectual hiding, says nothing, and retains Mark’s materials.  What use this has for him is difficult to fathom, though his use of the term “gifted,” which has a specific legal meaning, both in this instance and in the instance of his travails with Gena Rowlands regarding John Cassavetes’ Shadows, suggests something.   Here is what Professor Carney is holding:

 

Rappaport's materials in Carney's lawyer's office.

 

The content is 16mm prints of 8 of Mark’s 9 features, one-inch tapes of 5 of the films, the only copies of Mark’s short films, including the original of one of them, the HD master of Exterior Night, the only existing copies in the world from produced as well as many unproduced scripts, and much other paperwork, including reviews and newspaper clippings.  For Professor Carney’s twists and turns regarding all this, see the blog posts.

In light of Carney’s behavior, I will, with some help, organize an attempt to raise funding so that Mark’s films can be transferred to 2K digital files.    The material Carney holds, which includes things which would be very useful for Mark, does not however, include the original negatives.  In some cases new archival prints have been made by George Eastman House.   The Cinematheque Francaise, which is planning a full retrospective of Mark’s work, has had all the original negatives and sound materials sent to Paris, and can provide Mark with the discount they receive for lab work for transfers to 2K if funding can be raised for this.

The cost of making the transfers is estimated to be from $20,000 to $25,000.   Which fund-raising system will be used is as yet undecided, but I am leaning towards Hatchfund, which is a non-profit, and confined to artists and thus more restricted in those it appeals to.  I hope to initiate fund-raising this summer, or perhaps early in the autumn.  We ask that once it is up that you contribute.  I’ll be posting here, on FaceBook and other social media systems when the time comes.

 

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