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Tag Archives: Arab Spring

SM ROXONMARFLOORENDMarshall Gaddis and Roxanne Rogers in SLOW MOVES

Following a very nice screening of Last Chants for a Slow Dance at Light Industry (155 Freeman, Greenpoint, Brooklyn), to a sold out house and very nice response, this weekend we follow up with screenings of four different films at Spectacle, 124 S. 3rd St., (near Bedford), Brooklyn, NY.  See this:   http://www.spectacletheater.com/jon-jost/

bd-baseballMarshall Gaddis in Bell Diamond

Films showing will be Slow Moves, Bell Diamond, Parable, and The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima.   I’ll be there for all screenings (hope there’s a good wi-fi cafe and/or bar nearby!)

KATSU1_22smThe Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima

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Parable

Yesterday I went to MoMA’s documentary series to see my friend Peter Snowdon’s film, The Uprising.  I’d seen it in a rough form 3 years ago, and at the time he was very discouraged and said he was ready to stop and give up on it.  I found what I saw very strong and encouraged him to carry on and figure it out and finish.  He says my little nudge helped, and after all this time he finished it.  The film is composed of YouTube and other internet uploads of materials shot by people in the ”Arab Spring,” often rough things shot with cell-phones, i-Pads, DSLRs or whatever people had that they could shoot with.  Peter amassed a huge amount of this, and after his editorial labors I think he’s come up with a really strong and amazingly good film – can I say a kind of “masterpiece”?

the_uprising_peter_snowdon_02

Eschewing voice-over and explanatory materials, the film dives directly into the visceral reality which shifted from Tunisia, to Egypt, to Yemen and Syria, as the populist demand for change, for an end to corruption and dictatorships, spread like wild-fire across the middle-east.  Seizing on this emotional roller-coaster, riding from the delirium of massive crowds to the grim deaths of unarmed civilians in the face of military power, The Uprising seems to me orchestrated as a symphony, using the shifting tonalities and qualities of the various images used – blurred, jagged shifts of light, sometimes shifting into solarized simplicity – and cuts them with an internal aesthetic which verges often towards abstraction, but without ever lapsing and losing the emotional intensity of the situation.  Indeed, I think it is just this abstract infrastructure which makes the film work so powerfully.  Equally, the sound is used in this abstract sense, building into musical crescendos, and then going silent, shifting in concert with the images to orchestrate exactly as do the abstract sounds of a symphony, coaxing, enticing, shifting one’s inner world through pure aesthetics, yet ones which touch deeply inside us.   I know it was a lot of work, but I am glad Peter stuck to it and found (one of) the films which was in his material.  Powerful stuff.

Here’s a listing of upcoming screenings:

February 20, 2014 – 6pm : Pratt Institute, Brooklyn (NY), USA
not a screening, but a talk + Q&A with Peter Snowdon and Bruno Tracq

February 23, 2014 – 5:30pm : Images Cinema, Williamstown (MA), USA
followed by a Q&A with Peter Snowdon

February 26, 2014 – 7pm : Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, New Orleans (LA), USA
followed by a Q&A with Peter Snowdon

March 3, 2014 – 5:30pm : University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (NC), USA
followed by a Q&A with Peter Snowdon

March 7, 2014 – 7:30pm : The Center for Middle East Studies, New Brunswick (NJ), USA
followed by a Q&A with Peter Snowdon

March 27, 2014 – 7:30pm : Université Populaire, Brussels
followed by a talk with Bruno Tracq

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Denver banker with OWS

It’s been a month now since some scruffy/hippie/anarchists pick-your-derogatory-term, went and camped out near Wall Street.  For weeks the American press ignored them, then vilified and ridiculed them, and yet their numbers kept growing – in Zuccotti Park in NYC, and then like a fungus, materializing in cities and towns across the world, and then across the globe: 900 cities and towns, all sharing in the same diffuse and unrhetorical “there is something profoundly wrong about how the world is organized.”    The powers that be – the politicians and their financial buddies, the giant corporations and their “news” media – simply had no idea what to do with them, except apply the Pravda-like practice of figuring if they didn’t report it, it didn’t exist.  In a display of extraordinary stupidity and blindness, with the fresh examples of Tunisia and Egypt and the whole Arab spring, the honchos of America (and elsewhere) seemed blind-sided when thanks to the internet the news spread like wild-fire across the country and the globe.  One would have thought they’d learned a thing or two by the most recent bits of history – the indignados of Spain, the strikes in Greece, the global signs of discontent from the middle-east to the middle-west.  But no, our Masters of the Universe, and their hired political lackeys and pundits didn’t see, because, as ever, caught in the bubble of their own small 1% world, they didn’t imagine any world but their own: they could not conceive that the world was not all well and good, never mind the blatant evidence in their own statistics.     Even though they had been explicitly involved in constructing that alternate universe of globalization, which translated as rampaging out-of-control capitalism – the one that made them filthy rich and left everyone else behind.

About three weeks ago, I got an e-mail from someone I did not know – Daniel Levine.   He wrote about being in the OWS group, and I asked him to keep me informed on things, and I asked him who he was and to tell me something of himself.  He replied, and said he’d keep me updated, and said he was 21, and thought if he hadn’t seen my 1987 film Plain Talk and Common Sense (uncommon senses) he might not have gone to join the Wall Street uprising.  As someone who is somewhat cynical about the efficacy of so-called “political” film-making – of which I’ll have much more to say soon on the http://www.jonjost.wordpress.com blog – I was a bit skeptical, but it did move me to think that my work had, in any way, helped clarify and move someone to act.   Likewise, with this blog, and other internet things which have absorbed much of my energies in the last decade and more, where I have consistently drawn into question our national religion of “Free Market Capitalism”, noted the depths of our corruption (not only financial, but far deeper and more profound, our ethics and morals as bent by the values of that capitalism) and the severe damages it inflicts upon our society. I would like to think perhaps all this energy did not go to waste, but was a tiny ripple in a larger social wave which was building all this time.   I don’t think anyone is the sole holder of a thought, but that if one thinks something, millions of others must do likewise.   Unlike many of my friends, who seemed terminally pessimistic about young Americans, I have always felt and said that I thought, at some time, somehow, things would finally erupt.  And so it seems they have.

Where ever you are – in America or elsewhere in the world – I encourage you to go out and join your fellow humans and add your voice to this movement, whatever name one wishes to give it.   We need to defeat the economic masters of this system, and their political and cultural minions, who have orchestrated the policies of the last decades and more, policies  which have obviously failed the vast majority of humans while enriching and empowering a tiny sliver who seem utterly heedless of the circumstances of humanity.  They seem to lust for wealth and power beyond rationality, and would, if left unchecked, render the world uninhabitable in their pursuit of it.  Occupy Wall Street and all the other streets should be the beginning of a major revision in humanity’s understanding of its place on the globe and our relationships with one another – as individuals and as societies.