Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Film, politics and cinema diplomacy

As a film scholar and film enthusiast I'm sometimes torn. Torn between my love of cinema and my feeling that cinema isn't really that important and that I should devote my time to saving the world or something. This is of course very silly, but what's funny is that it is usually people who are not in cinema that tells me so. People who are studying international relations or medicine or other worthwhile things.

But I needn't feel guilty for to begin with, there's room both for the studying of film and doing "good deeds", whatever that might be. But what people tell me is that film is such an important and ubiquitous art form, and there's need for people such as myself to study it, to explore and explain it, and keep track of it. Since most people have a deep relationship with films, it's only good and proper that somebody look after their interests.

The other thing, and something which my talk with Mohsen Makhmalbaf last week underscored, is that film in itself can be used for political purposes, that cinema is a tool, which can be used for good and for bad. Propaganda film is the most obvious example, but all kinds of cinema has long been used for other things besides entertainment. Makhmalbaf is of course a very political filmmaker, and now, with the situation in Iran being what it is, he's living in exile in Paris, together with his immensely talented (and charming) wife. (More on them in my next blog post.)

I have also used films for political purposes. When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 I was furious, and I wanted to do something about it. But what? Well, the one thing I could do, bring a film festival to Tbilisi, to show my support. So I did that, with the help of the Swedish Embassy.

So there you go, I need to stop whining and perhaps even be proud. But I could also do more to make the two things, cinema and politics, come together. Partly by doing what I would call "cinema diplomacy", like what I did in Tbilisi, and partly by using the one to explain the other. Discussing cinema by using politics, and explaining politics with the use of cinema. The fight starts here.

(Speaking of cinema diplomacy, here's an article from Los Angeles Times, in March last year, about Hollywood and Iran. This was of course before the political situation exploded after the election last summer.)

No comments:

Post a Comment