DECEMBER 2004/JANUARY 2005

A POSSIBLY HAPHAZARD AND CONDENSED PICTURE OF THE TRUE CINEMA TODAY

SOME NOTES ON THE ENCLOSED DVD

by Estep Nagy

LIST OF FILMS
on the DVD enclosed with the December 2004/January 2005 print issue

  1. Deformer [dir. Mike Mills; 16 min. 43 sec.]
  2. Is A Woman [dir. Shynola and Fiona Hewitt, song by Lambchop; 4 min. 37 sec.]
  3. Tortured by Joy [dir. Henry Griffin; 11 min. 35 sec.]
  4. Sombra Dolorosa [dir. Guy Maddin; 7 min. 32 sec.]
  5. Sweeter as the Years Roll By (Part 3) [dir. Will Rogan; 1 min. 47 sec.]
  6. Squash [dir. Lionel Bailliu; 27 min. 41 sec.; in French with English subtitles]

Orson Welles famously said it’s just as hard to make a bad film as a good one, and he would certainly know.

My own experience is that the most profound emotion you feel when directing a film is doubt. Doubt that what you want to do can be accomplished, doubt that what you’ve already shot is working, even doubt that you’re physically up to finishing the job. It can’t be an accident that the best films often feature a strong element of doubt at or near their center. And if doubt and faith exist in direct proportion to each other, then the strength of the finished film is one measure of the doubts confronted by the director. Maybe what experience teaches you, if you’re listening, is how to doubt more accurately.

I love the films on this DVD because each one made me feel something hard to categorize or describe. These filmmakers grappled with all the right doubts, and they’ve overcome them in fantastic ways. The films don’t have much else in common.

To arrive at these six, I used a highly nonscientific selection process and observed a simple standard: does this film surprise me—emotionally, comically, visually, or morally? I took screening recommendations from many quarters, but I didn’t insist that the films be new, as many film festivals do. Even a short film screened at every festival in the world would still be a film too few people have seen.

In the end, though it could never hope to be comprehensive in any sense and though it’s unavoidably biased and haphazard, I hope this DVD represents one possible picture of the true cinema today.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Estep Nagy is the writer and director of the independent feature The Broken Giant, which is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

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