Where is cinema heading to?

Short videos on this question answered by Jia Zhang-ke, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Lisandro Alonso and Albert Serra.

Jia Zhang-ke (Chinese + French subs) 58" [centrepompidou]
Jia Zhang-ke : "I'm very confident in the future of cinema and I'm confident about new media, like internet or cell phones, that allow the audience to watch movies. But I'm also certain that the movie houses will last long. It's extremely important that the audience could gather in a common place to watch a filmic work. The size of the screen begs for respect, both for the work and the audience. This mutual respect will continue. And this is how I envision the future of cinema. Merci"

Hou Hsiao-hsien (chinese + French subs) 1'25" [centrepompidou]

HHH: "Well it's not like writting... where we only need a pen and a paper. To work with cinema it's different. Question is : what is the difference between images and words? It's totally different. How are we going to work with images? We know that, from Lumière brothers up to now, cinema only exists for some 100 years. Now there are digital cameras, it will change everything, create new different forms. The point we are at now, we can't say where is cinema heading to. And especially, there is Internet now. It's very difficult to define the future of cinema.

Lisandro Alonso (Spanish, English + French subs) 48" [centrepompidou]
Lisandro Alonso : "I don't know. It's difficult to say something serious... because it seems cinema is a little dead. But... I don't know, we have to go back to Lumière brothers. And then we'll see."

Albert Serra, Cannes 2008 (French) 5' [centrepompidou]
Albert Serra : "It's difficult to say because cinema is losing its popular aspect. Because people became more stupid, right? since the 80ies, 90ies... and filmmakers are more erudit, we're talking about real filmmakers, right, trying to find a new original path. All this means more and more sophistication, more abstract, more impenetrable, regarding images. But the audience, with TV that has become this god of today, always into classical narration. I believe that cinema of the future will precisely be in the museum. It's the museum that will give money to make films, in the festivals. Maybe in 2018 at the Director's Fortnight they will give money to 5 filmmakers to make their film. Already today there are festivals like Rotterdam that give money to makes films. Because the usual ways to find money are difficult. TV today is impossible. I never had a TV set at home since I have 18 years old. It's a cancer. Someone who watches TV deserves to die right away. And it's me who will do it, naturally, if it's necessary. To find funds for cinema... I don't know if it's the same in France, but TV used to acquire art films before, today they don't buy anything... There is only the state subsidies... but there is less and less aids for art films. The era when The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, great artists, made music for a large popular success, when Godard could make a totally crazy movie with a big popular success... this era is over for ever.
What will cinema become? I don't know, it will simply lose its popular dimension. Because the people has become more stupid, cinema has evolved a little. Now with Modern Cinema there is no classical narration, we can see the images. Today for Modern Cinema it's like writing a poem. When you read a novel, you look for ideas, stories, all that. But when you read a poem, you don't have an absolute for each verse to have its own obvious signification. They could relate to an image or a suggestion... but there is always in your head this idea, and each verse don't need to have a full perfect meaning, where everything is evident. It's more like suggestions and images. In this approach of cinema, people move away from the popular side, more to the poetic side, like a poem. It will become more and more difficult to keep this tradition of cinema as we know it since its birth. Images pure and beautiful, but for everyone. It's a shame. It makes me sad. I try to keep this popular side with my non-actors, certain details, but it's a pity, I think it will disappear..."


HarryTuttle said…
Note: I just added HHH's video to this post.
Carlos Ferrao said…
Thanks for the videos, Harry. I've never seen an Albert Serra film but he comes across as a snobbish idiot. I don't believe there is anything particularly good in TV but any artist should at least understand and communicate on some level with the society around him. Otherwise whatever he's doing are just solipsist vanity projects, or in other words, intellectual masturbation. I also don't appreciate him calling people stupid, he's not a teenager any more and good narrative art (like cinema) must have love for its subjects, even if they are indeed stupid and silly.
HarryTuttle said…
We shouldn't take him too seriously, he's kidding around. there is another video of a Cahiers interview from the same Cannes edition, where he's drunk and talks nonsense. ;)

This said I agree with you, there is something ironic about someone making such avant gardist films without the least emotional warmer to hook up the audience saying that cinema lost its popular appeal. It's certainly not Birdsongs or Quixotic that will popularize artfilms for mainstream audience.

When you make obscure films, deal with it, it's not meant to appeal to a large population.

The Beatles and even Godard (I guess he means Breathless) had something popular going on for them. Godard's experimental stuff (after La Nouvelle Vague) didn't make a big success though.

I don't think there will ever be a trend shift where entertainment will become niche film and AG experiments will enthuse the mass.
Anonymous said…
The Serra video has been shot on a Friday morning, at 9 am. Not Serra's favorite hour, I can tell.
Anonymous said…
I only just saw this (Senor Serra's response that is). Ooof...

Like Carlos says, he is quite the snob to say the least if not repugnant.
HarryTuttle said…
Added : Jia Zhang-ke's take
weepingsam said…
On the other hand - nothing Serra says is terribly surprising - they're reasonable observations, so reasonable that people have been saying them for at least a hundred years about various arts. The growth of large audiences for arts creates a split between art aimed for the masses and art aimed for specialists (usually after a period where the art form accommodates both in the same work), and for the adventurous, ambitious art to survive, it has to be supported by the institutes of high culture. It's a common narrative in art history (whether it's strictly true or not.) As for his tone - he doesn't so much look like a snob as hungover. It sounds like he's making a speech in a bar - I'd guess, he probably has made some version of that speech in bars and restaurants through the years.... He also seems to be a bit more interested in performing for the interviewer than the others....