Reflexivity – Autobiography of an art work / No. 88, March 2015

At its most traditional, cinema makes an implicit pact with its audience, asking them to suspend their disbelief in exchange for a couple of hours of reflection, escapism or entertainment. But there are also times when the camera turns on itself and the subject of filmmaking becomes the real protagonist of the film, drawing the viewer’s attention to what normally happens outside of the frame, behind the scenes. During the following weeks, we will focus on reflexivity in cinema, looking at how directors, spectators, writers’ blocks and inspirations have been portrayed on film. To open the dances, we chose Antonio Andreani and Vito Cea’s short film SASSYWOOD. Focusing on the picturesque city of Matera, it casts a cynical look at the state of Italian cinema today. Next comes Fellini’s classic EIGHT AND A HALF. Mirroring the directors’s real-life writer’s block, its rich, oneiric imagery perfectly captures the elusive nature of inspiration.

 

The following week focuses on cinephilia and the impact film can have on its audience. In Bertolucci’s THE DREAMERS, cinema is the fuel that ignites a love triangle. And sex and film go hand in hand in Pablo Berger’s TORREMOLINOS 73 too: a married couple living in Franco’s Spain starts shooting homemade porn films to make a living, discovering a directorial vocation and a love for Ingmar Bergman along the way.

The third week shines a light on the creative process, on how a work of art comes to life. Artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard capture Nick Cave’s musings on art, life, performances and inspiration in 20000 DAYS ON EARTH, whereas Bennet Miller’s CAPOTE recounts the life of the tormented genius figure as he decides to chronicle a horrific murder case in Kansas which will be the basis for his masterpiece In Cold Blood.

 

The final week introduces the concept of metacinema, or cinema that has itself as its subject matter, and Fran├žois Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT and Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s ADAPTATION certainly do. Not only do both these films rotate entirely around cinema, but also the film being written/shot has such an importance on the characters’ lives that the boundaries between screenplay and real life become dangerously blurred.

 

Chiara Puntil & Raluca Petre